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Principles of Knitting: Book Review

Updated on September 11, 2014

History of Principles of Knitting

High Prices and Controversy

When Principles of Knitting came out in 1989, it was the 500 page sleeping gorilla of knitting books. It was overlooked by many knitters until after it had gone out of print, and only then did knitters realize how useful this book is. The price of used copies shot up, and people were paying $200.00 for a copy - and considering it a worthwhile investment.

Ms Hiatt knew she had a winner, but lacked the resources to put the book back in print. She considered self-publishing, but also wanted to re-write the book. For years, knitters waited, hoping the book would be available again.

Now, the wait is over. Principles of Knitting, the revised, 704 page edition, will be released in February, 2012.

It's been republished!

The Book: Principles of Knitting - June Hemmons Hiatt

About the Book: Principles of Knitting

Ms Hiatt has written the equivalent of a PhD thesis on knitting techniques. This book is comprehensive, covering almost every knitting topic imaginable.

She details every possible technique of knitting, where it is best used, and what she thinks about it. For example, she discusses over 40 different cast on methods, including one she invented to get around the drawbacks of Long Tail Cast On. [I've used it, and like the book itself, the cast on works beautifully, but is complicated.] Different ways to hold the yarn, to make knit and purl stitches, increases and decreases, cables, lace, color work ... it's all in here.

If I could have only one book on knitting after the world came to an end, this would be that book.

However, remember above where I said Ms Hiatt gives us her opinions? In the first edition, she did exactly that, even when her opinion went against common knowledge or knitting political correctness. Her opinion branded the book controversial, and people would argue the merits of each on the knitting e-mail lists of the 1990s.

What This Book Does Not Contain

Patterns. There are no patterns in this book. There are also no tips on designing patterns, no "universal garments", or info on sizing knitted items.

How to Knit advice Though the book discusses how knitting stitches are made, it does so from a technical/theory point of view. While some people will be able to learn to knit from this book, you won't find pretty pictures of each step.

A few, very obscure techniques There is a method of knitting with ribbon that keeps the ribbon flat and looks nothing like conventional knitting. I learned about it from a 1940s technique book. That method isn't in this book.

My Opinion

I pre-ordered this book, sight unseen. I'm glad I did.

I only learned about Principles of Knitting after it had gone out of print. My library did have a copy though, and I renewed it at least once before I had read through the whole book. The format appeals to my technical, geeky knitting mind. I like knowing there are 40+ different cast ons, and why each is best suited for a particular use. I didn't mind the opinion, even when I disagreed with it, because Ms Hiatt always explained why she had the opinion she did.

The new book is even more than the old ... except Ms hiatt has moderated some of her opinions so she does not come across as strongly as before.

But if you are a designer (professional or amateur) or love the theory of knitting, or just want to impress your "expert" knitting friends, order the book now. This is one of my "Apocalypse" books, one I'd take with me if the world collapsed.

You Can Still Buy the First Edition

The Principles of Knitting: Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting
The Principles of Knitting: Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting
The original edition. Prices have dropped greatly since the new edition came out. Though the new edition is larger and has much more information, book collectors may still want this version.

What's Your Rating of Principles of Knitting?

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Principles of Knitting book

© 2014 ZCademy


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great review! My sister knits a lot--I'll recommend this book to her.

    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 

      9 years ago from PA

      I've heard to this book and the rave reviews it garners. I will definitely look into this book for myself.


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