The arrival of spring is the perfect encouragement to take up a new hobby. How about knitting? The best-selling knitting patterns in the UK these last few weeks feature some of the people and corgis who attended the royal wedding (that’s Fiona Goble’s Knit Your Own Royal Wedding). There’s the Queen, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bride and groom, of course. Plus Her Majesty’s beloved pups. (Okay, the dogs didn’t attend, but they should have.)
Before you tackle such complicated designs, you’ll need to start with the basics.
Mittens, say. And Townshippers can never have too many warm winter socks. Then once you have the basics, you could try a more Seussical design — such as a satisfyingly giant Christmas stocking with a whimsical curlicue and a collection of pompoms. Start now for next December’s presents!
Barbara Abbey’s The Complete Book of Knitting (1971) will never go out of style. But you need to be committed to reading and practicing. Best of all, if you make a mistake, you simply undo and begin again. But it’s not scary: “to the uninitiated, knitting often seems a complicated procedure, but once the individual steps are understood and the final results are seen, it all becomes quite easy and well worth the effort,” writes Abbey.
Learn about needles, hooks, yarns and stitches. Abbey only gets to knitting itself on page 54, when she begins to explain the Basic Knitting Procedures. And we’re off! Remember that you’ll need to set aside an evening to test out each stitch, and take your time. Particular stitches are connected to particular patterns, so you can pick a couple to learn, instead of everything at once. Then skip over the other stitches and read through the chapters on measuring and how to out sweaters together, for example. (Note that this advice comes from a non-knitter, and should be treated accordingly.)
Is knitting not your thing? How about woodworking?
The Woodworker’s Handbook (1984) is practically an encyclopaedia, put together by lecturers at the London (UK) College of Furniture. Hone up on tools, wood (including how to buy wood; the higher the grade, the fewer the defects, plus there’s insight into the defects that come when green wood is badly dried), joints, hinges and more. There’s even a section on veneer. The tome ends with a series of projects — a desk, kitchen cupboards, tables.
“The promise of trees is one that should not be denied to future generations. So before embarking on the undoubtedly worthwhile course of putting axe to tree, think about the difficulties ahead; and consider whether it might not be more responsible to recycle ‘the old beam in the yard’ or to use manufactured board instead.” Even those uninterested in woodworking can learn a lot about wood in the first chapter.
The second chapter offers advice on setting up a workshop.
Woodworking itself is tackled in chapter three — or at least, marking and measuring wood is discussed.
This is a book that will require many delightful evenings in the workshop you set up two chapters ago!
The Woodworker’s Handbook is filed under the author’s name at no. 648.08. The Complete Book Of Knitting is at 646.4. The library uses the Dewey decimal system to classify non-fiction; just ask the librarian to look up a topic if you’re looking for something specific.
Now’s the time to have some fun and learn something new.
– Eleanor Brown, May 6, 2011