Although Kate Atherley is a prolific designer and teacher in the knitting world, my first introduction to her was when I purchased her book, Knit Mitts: Your Hand-y Guide to Knitting Mittens & Gloves last year as a treat to myself. It sat, unread, on my bookshelf for a number of months until I was inspired last fall to knit my father some thrummed mittens for a Christmas gift.
I was so impressed at the incredible charts and clear detail with which Kate had written this book that when I saw she was releasing a knitting dictionary in October of 2018, I went to the bookstore the day it launched to snatch it up.
The Knitter’s Dictionary: Knitting Know-How from A to Z is exactly as advertised: a dictionary/encyclopedia of knitting terms that makers can use to decode the confusing world of knitting pattern jargon. Within this book is not only definitions of common knitting techniques, but also clear diagrams and charts of different kinds of colourwork, yarn attributes, and yarn weights.
As I thumbed through the pages, I had a twinge of jealousy every now and then: I wish this book had been around when I was first learning to knit! After overcoming the challenge of the cast on and knit stitch, new learners are faced with the task of deciphering the jumble of seemingly meaningless symbols that make up any standard knitting pattern. The knitting world has a language all its own; just ask any non-knitter what “tinking” is and I’m sure you’ll be met with a confused head-tilt and a “Huh?” Understanding this language can be a daunting task for the best of us. I kept with extremely simple knitting patterns for a long time because I was intimidated by how complex most patterns looked. I think if I had had this guide when I was first learning, I would have dived into more complicated patterns sooner than I did. Although it’s strictly a dictionary and doesn’t contain too many directions on how to knit, I find that it’s helpful to have the correct terms to plug into Google when you are looking for tutorials on a specific stitch or technique.
This dictionary is not only for beginners, though. I found myself learning a lot from this book and I’ve been a dedicated knitter for years. The knitting world is an extremely vast and diverse one, and I think one could spend an entire lifetime dedicated to it and still find more to learn, whether in just technique or in tradition. For example, I had no idea what a chullo hat was (a Peruvian hat style with earflaps, made from wool)!
Something else that struck me while going through this dictionary was the weight of it. Not literal weight (the book is actually quite small and can easily fit into any knitting bag), but the immense amount of knowledge that this book contains. The wisdom of thousands of knitters gathered from hundreds of years of experience from every corner of the world all in one place. It’s an anthology of traditions: what a powerful, inspiring tool to have. I would encourage knitter to gift this dictionary to anyone who is new to this craft and pass the creativity, comfort, and joy that knitting brings onto the next generation of innovative makers. &