Chicks with Sticks authors Nancy Queen and Mary Ellen O’Connell bring a fresh, new approach to teaching an old subject. As they say, this is not your grandmother’s knitting. They share my philosophy that one of the attractions of knitting is that it is completely portable. In fact, they add a new knitting venue that hadn’t occurred to me: car pool lines. Now I wish I had re-learned to knit before my kids learned to drive!

This book starts at the very beginning, explaining needles, yarn, gauges, and basic stitches. With each additional step they teach, they give you one or more projects to let you try it out. They use a wide variety of yarns in their projects, giving you a good sense of what’s available today.

In fact, if there was one thing I could complain about, it’s that the authors used too many fancy yarns too soon. These ladies assume you have a top-flight yarn store in your neighborhood and you can afford to shop there. I didn’t see one project that used yarn you could buy at Michaels, for instance. In addition, the first two projects, a scarf and an envelope bag, require you to knit with two different-sized yarns held together. That’s not something I would suggest someone attempt on their first two projects. Although I have to admit, the results are stunning.

Aside from that one caveat, this book is an excellent choice if you’re just learning. In the beginning of the book, they start with what I would call easy knitting patterns:  scarves, shawls, handbags.  By the end of the book, they’ll have you doing cardigans and cables. All patterns are either Beginner or Advanced Beginner level. The authors supply handy extras such as practical shortcuts and an entire chapter on how to fix your mistakes. Their goal is to give you all the information you would expect to get if you were taking a class in a yarn store.

This book is printed on high-quality paper, and features clear, understandable diagrams. The instructions are well worded and very easy to follow. All thirty finished projects are shown in full-page color photos. Projects include accessories (such as scarves and bags), household items (such as washcloths and a needle case), and plenty of sweaters and vests. The even have a doggie sweater pattern.

Whether you’re a rank beginner, or just need to round out your repertoire of knitting knowledge, The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting is an excellent choice for any fan of easy knitting patterns.

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