The Yarn Girls' Guide to Beyond the Basics Review
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In their first book, Carles and Jacobs, owners of The Yarn Co. in New York City, gave beginning knitters page after page of patterns that were both easy to knit and great to wear—and that’s not always an easy task. Now, three years later, they’ve written their newest book, The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Beyond the Basics, to help those knitters take their next steps.

The designs in this book are chic garments and accessories that today’s hip, young knitter will be eager to knit and proud to show off. You won’t find any frumpy sweaters with intricate (and hideous) intarsia colorwork patterns (like cute little bunnies). Instead, you’ll find sweaters, tanks, ponchos, hats, scarves, and even blankets with stylish stripes, easy stitch patterns, simple cables, and basic intarsia color blocks.

Each section in the book begins with a basic pattern—simple stitches, minimal shaping, no colorwork. After that, the Girls introduce a few challenges—but just a little at a time, to ease you in. In no time, knitters will feel right at home with a cable needle, a stripe pattern, or a small block of color—and the tips in the beginning of the book will walk you through the process, so it’s not scary at all.

One complaint that was often voiced about the Girls’ first book was that the patterns were too often made with bulky yarns, which, a fellow knitter recently complained, only look good if you’re a size two. While you’ll still find a few bulky-weight patterns in this book, you’ll find less super-bulky weights and more worsted—which, fortunately, will look good even if you’re not a size two.

I have only one complaint about this book. While the patterns take a step up to new techniques, one technique that’s somewhat overlooked (a technique that’s one of my favorites) is knitting in the round. In fact, there’s only one hat pattern in the book that’s done in the round. For those of us lazy, er, efficient knitters who hate finishing, that’s a bit of a disappointment.

That aside, though, I fell in love with this book the first time I flipped through it. As I turned the pages, I actually “ooh”-ed and “aah”-ed. There's nothing fancy—and that's what I like about it. The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Beyond the Basics is a godsend for advanced-beginner knitters—and even for more advanced knitters who would like a little almost-instant gratification from time to time. The designs are gorgeous—nothing like some of the boring (and, again, hideous) scratchy sweaters that your grandma used to knit—and the patterns are wonderfully straightforward. They’re stylish and deceptively stress-free—but they’re sure to impress your non-knitting friends. In fact, it’s a good thing the patterns are still quick and easy—because once your friends see your new sweaters, they’ll start requesting hand-knit sweaters of their own.

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