Review: The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Deste, Interweave, 2015, 176 pages. Grade: B+. Digital formats available.

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is a pretty good book. I must admit, though, that it disappointed me a little. I wanted more stitch patterns in the dictionary. I would say that a large number of stitch patterns have been documented in other books. On the other hand, the authors made up several of their own for this book, which is a positive note worth emphasizing and really makes this title worth having. I suppose someone in the future will need to write the definitive tome on slip-stitch knitting with every single thing ever invented in it. I would love to have a reference book on that. Anyway, here’s how this book is organized: Each chapter, following the first one about how to slip-stitch knit, covers a particular style of slip-stitch knitting, a dictionary of stitch patterns that fits in that category, and ends with some patterns for garments and accessories that use some of the documented stitches.

Chapter 1, as I’ve mentioned, outlines the techniques employed in slip-stitch knitting. It covers a lot of techniques of how to execute stitches with success, offering advice on tension and the different effects that can be achieved by slipping with the yarn in front versus back, etc. I’m pretty sure this is the most thorough explanation of every aspect of these techniques and the illustrations show what it describes very well. There is even advice on color choices, with photos of bad combinations. I think anyone who is new to slipping stitches would benefit tremendously from this chapter.

The second unit is when the stitches and patterns start appearing. This one, called “Traditional Slip-Stitch Patterns,” offers a dictionary of stitches that reiterate a lot of what Barbara G. Walker and others have documented. I think it’s good that the authors included a chapter like this, sampling some of the older and well-known stitches, so that knitters that are new to the technique can have a useful starter set. For someone like me, who has been slipping stitches since the age of the dinosaurs, this section would have stood out for the patterns. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything I’d like to make. Maybe in the future I’ll change my mind, but for now, I don’t want to make anything here. If you’d like to see all the designs in this book you should go to its Ravelry page and see everything that this text has to offer. There is a whole lot more here for women. More than likely, very slender women, like all the models in the book. This, indeed, is another negative aspect. All the models are young and slender. I have no idea how the sweaters would look on someone with some more meat on their bones.

“Woven Slip-Stitch Patterns” is the title of Chapter 3. Don’t get confused about the word “woven.” There isn’t any weaving here. The word refers to how the stitches look, especially thanks to slipping with the yarn in front. I like a lot of the stitches and I think I’ll try some of them out in the future. Again, the patterns don’t appeal to me, but I’m a man looking for things to make for myself. Women will have better luck, I think, although I must admit I wouldn’t make any of the clothes for the women I know.

Chapter 4 is all about “Fancy Slip-Stitch Patterns” which involve interesting textures and colors. I like the dictionary quite a lot. Again, the garments and accessories are not speaking to me right now. I have to confess that sometimes I don’t like patterns at one point in time but then in the future I’m into them because something about my taste has changed or maybe I just look at the samples in a different way.

Finally, in Chapter 5 we have the long-awaited stitches created by the authors themselves. They are awesome. There’s even advice here on how to transform stitch patterns into something else more innovative. There are some patterns for clothes and accessories, here, to bring the total for the entire book to 16 patterns. Not bad, really, considering that there’s also a stitch dictionary.

I’ve given this book a B+ because I wanted it to be more than it is. I guess I just wanted more dictionary and fewer patterns for clothes and accessories. I have not given my B+ grade because of the patterns, however. I am capable of giving an A to a book with patterns I’ll never use because of the explanation of something new, or just good advice on techniques.  I wanted more stitches in one place. However, I’m really glad I got the book even though it doesn’t make me gush. I like the new inventions the authors included in the final chapter and I’m sure I’ll play with them in the future. I’m believe  I’ll at least change my mind about the scarves and cowls. I do not doubt that crafters new to slip-stitch knitting will benefit the most from this book. More experienced knitters might not need this, unless they’re willing to pay for having some new slip-stitch patterns that haven’t been published elsewhere.

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