My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.



Last week I was sent a review copy of Vogue Knitting Knitopedia: The Ultimate A to Z for Knitters.

This is a hardcover book, 240 pages, and states a publication date of today.

Here is the product description, shamelessly lifted from

If knitters could own just one guide to their craft, Knitopedia™ would be their book of choice! Created by the trusted experts at Vogue® Knitting, this beautifully designed encyclopedia is an A-to-Z of knitting techniques, history, and lore that’s filled with more than 400 individual articles and lavishly illustrated with color photos, technical illustrations, charts, patterns, and maps. It’s an ideal reference for both beginning and advanced knitters, who will treasure it for years to come.

It certainly is a beautifully designed book, nicely laid out, with full-color drawings and photos. And it is an interesting mix of “stuff.” There are some techniques documented step-by-step, for example, decreases.

There are a number of essays written by knitting designers on a variety of topics. And there are encyclopedic entries on all sorts of things, including knitting history, different styles and types of knitting, knitting magazines, people, events, etc. The book is laid out alphabetically, as an encyclopedia should be, and is nicely cross-referenced and indexed.

But . . .

I have a few beefs with this book. For something that calls itself the “Ultimate A to Z for Knitters” there is a lot missing. The content of the book seems rather arbitrary. There is a section on Bohus Knitting, yet neither Wendy Keele (author of the great book Poems of Color) nor Solveig Gustafsson (who has meticulously recreated patterns and yarns from the original Bohus designs) are mentioned. There’s quite a bit about knitting history in it, but two authors who wrote histories of knitting (Richard Rutt and Anne L. Macdonald) do not get a mention, yet individuals involved in the “guerilla knitting” movement do.

Some yarn companies are mentioned, some are not. (Manos del Uruguay is, Malabrigo isn’t.) Some designers are mentioned, some are not. (Cookie A. is, I am not.) Least you think I am just in a snit at being excluded (okay, I am a little), I hasten to point out that there are quite a few designers listed I’ve never heard of, while many widely-known, very popular, designers do not get a mention. Kathy Zimmerman, Jared Flood, and Ysolda Teague, to name a few, are all absent from the book.

While I realize that  it is unrealistic to expect inclusion of every yarn company in the world and everyone who calls him/herself a designer, I do wonder what the criteria were for what/who got an entry.

I have a beef with the entry on socks. The first sentence states that you can knit socks top down or toe up. Following is more than a page on top-down construction, complete with a photo, but nothing about toe-up.

I could go on, but the point of this review is not to list all the problems with this book. I think this book is better described as a subjective sampling of topics for knitters, not an ultimate one.

Still, it is a very pretty book with a lot of fascinating information in it. (But be forewarned — I’ve found some inaccuracies in the information presented.) Just don’t expect it to be the only knitting reference book you’ll ever need. Caveat emptor.

Meanwhile in my own little world, I am finishing up the shoulder strap on my first Twisty sleeve.

Lucy sez:

“Oh hai!”



  1. Ms. Lucy is such a clever girl, not to mention a beauty. Lovely sweater part too. Can not wait to see it completed. Love the new look, BTW

  2. Katherine says:

    I have to say that I took a look at it at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC and I was not at all impressed. I didn’t see the point for putting it together in the first place but I’m sure many will find it useful.

  3. Though I understand having to make editorial decisions, it sounds pretty sloppy to me. Just the mentioning of two sock knitting techniques, while only addressing one, is bizarre to say the least.

  4. Thank you for letting us know your thoughts on the book. I will not be buying it. However, for those who will, they have been forewarned on what to find in it and what not to find it it.

  5. anne marie in philly says:

    LOVING the new layout in lucy blue!

    meredith and steven say: “meow, cousin lucy, you sure are looking pretty today!”

  6. Thanks for the review; it’s always useful to have an experienced designer’s take on something as pricey as I’m sure this book will be! Tell Lucy I’m waving “Hi!” at her, please.

  7. CatBookMom says:

    Guess I’m not surprised about the Vogue book; it sounds much like the big Vogue Ultimate Knitting Book. I bought it in 2003 and was very disappointed when I kept not finding the answers I needed; thankfully, someone steered me to the Montse Stanley reference.

  8. Cathy S says:

    Of late, I have wondered about vogue knitting, too; this includes magazine, website, etch What has happened there?

  9. A friend brought one back from Vogue Knitting Live. They were included in the goody bags. Our observation was that if you were a contributor to Vogue, or they had written something about you, you were far more likely to be included in this book.
    Lori´s last blog post ..Work space

  10. suncatcher says:

    Love your new “Look” : )

  11. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the review! I typically avoid any book that is called an “ultimate” in its category. It’s usually not even close.

  12. I have issues with most Vogue Knitting books, so this isn’t too surprising to me, except that you’d think a company with that big of name would employ people to make sure it’s done properly and respectfully.
    Karen´s last blog post ..Mid-Winter Break

  13. Susan Tofilon says:

    Thank you Wendy. I always appreciate your reviews of new books. Your sweater is beautiful and coming along quickly. I must be a slow knitter as you turn out such beautiful work so fast. I am amazed by you! Give Lucy a scratch under her chin for me. 🙂

  14. Thank you for providing such a great review on this book. I have been very curious about it but I have been disappointed by some other Vogue Knitting titles and I did not want to purchase this book without knowing more about it. I expect a book that touts itself as an “A to Z” reference type book to be far more comprehensive and complete than this appears to be.

    Some of the content you mentioned is of interest and I will definitely look through this book if/when my local bookstore has it in stock.
    Ezara´s last blog post ..YOSS – March 2011 – Short-Row Toe and Heel Basic Socks

  15. Sandra D says:

    I’m suspicious of anything that claims to be all I’ll ever need! And really, it sounds like I don’t need this one. I appreciate your review. But even more, I appreciate seeing a shoulder strap and a photo of Lucy!

  16. Linda Hensens says:

    Thanks so much, Wendy, for the comments on this book. I was thinking when I saw the e-mail blurb that I got that it might be a great reference for me to buy. However, I have since changed my mind after reading your blog today. I already knew that I need to be able to watch someone doing a stitch either on video or in person before I am really going to get it in my head. I thought that maybe this book would help for those stitches that no one has made a video for yet, like this traveling vine stitch pattern that I am trying to learn tonight. I have looked high and low, and cannot find 1 video on this to save my soul. I am determined to get the pattern down because I really want to make a shawl that is designed with that stitch pattern. Just out of curiosity, does the Vogue book have that stitch in it? 🙂

    Probably not. Thank you so much for your insight. I truly enjoy your blog!
    Linda in NC

  17. Thanks for the heads up on Knitopedia.
    When I spend my money I want value.

    Your sweater design is gorgeous!

    Hey! Lucy

    Gerry´s last blog post ..Keeping busy

  18. I’ve been knitting a very long time and so far all I need is Monte’s book, Google and Youtube. At least you got left out with very good company you can strand me with Jared any day.

  19. Thanks for the heads-up about the two Bohus experts! I have just “discovered” the wonderful world of these knits, I just googled those names, I bookmarked Solveig Gustafsson’s website and I think I’ll buy Keele’s book!

    It’s a shame the Vogue book is so inconsistent but still looks worthwhile.

  20. I forgot to say that it’s strange who they left off their designer list. Really odd!

  21. Mariana says:

    Looked to me as though, if there’d been an article in the Vogue Knitting magazine, then, something – from a technique to a person – might be included. Otherwise, no – no new work done.

  22. Thank you for an honest review of this book! I too am curious to know why they left out the details that they did.
    biomaj5´s last blog post ..As if I dont have enough hobbies already

  23. Thanks for the review.
    I was wondering whether it would be a good book to have. Those are some interesting oversights/omissions you point out.
    How much does it duplicate the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Knitting Book?
    I have and love that one. Can’t see the point in having the same book under a different title.

    By the way, did you change up the blog layout again recently?

  24. I guess it’s hard to call one’s book, “Just Another Knitting Reference Book” which is what they’ve produced — that doesn’t exactly boost sales. But your examples of who they left out are certainly puzzling.

  25. Thank you for the review. I would say however that I may have avoided it on the pure principle that it is Vogue.. and if you are not Vogue your not in. Though the sock thing is kinda puzzleing… as toe-up are just as “in” if not more than cuff down! Too bad they fall short…
    Loveing your blog… thank you!

  26. I’ve never been a huge fan of “Vague” — they’re notorious for errata in their patterns, and they tend toward the trendy and even extreme, while I tend toward classics and things I can wear forever. (If I’m going to spend months knitting something, I don’t want it to be out of style before I’m done.) That said, I do have an older version of Vogue Knitting. While it’s useful as a reference book, it’s not “the only reference you’ll ever need.” It has stitch patterns — but Barbara Walker’s series has far more. It has designing tips — but Deborah Newton’s “Designing Knitwear” has a lot more. In short, it’s a starting point. Nice to have on the shelf if you want to know a little about a lot.
    Hissy Stitch´s last blog post ..You could sell that!

  27. I appreciate your very balanced review. And no, you didn’t come across as in a snit because you were left out (but left out in such great company!) — you just carefully pointed out where some fairly important things were omitted that really make the book far less effective than its somewhat grandiose title would suggest, which is very useful information indeed for a potential buyer!

    And you definitely convinced me that this is not a book I need to add to my collection — although I doubt I would have gotten it in the first place; I tend to prefer books that are specialized in a far more narrow area to books that skim the surface of a whole lot of stuff but leave a lot of the details out. Since it’s not hard to find a book specializing in just about anything having to do with knitting these days (even if you have to really dig sometimes to find out where to get a copy at a reasonable price), it means that aside from Barbara Walker’s series, I really don’t have any big knitting compilations.

    Although I would still sell my firstborn for a couple of the Alice Starmore books that are just TOTALLY unavailable at a price a normal person can afford….

    And Lucy looks absolutely adorable today!

  28. I found your comments on the Vogue book interesting. I find their older book fairly useful but the one book I have that seems to have the answers others don’t is the Reader’s Digest Knitter’s Handbook and it would appear others agree (i never paid attention to who the author was and yes it’s Montse Stanley) I like the Vogue magazine for how fashion forward it is, but. I’ve pretty much come to the point where I don’t feel I need another general reference book, I can either look online, go to the Library or purchase something specific to the technique I’m interested in if I don’t have the info in my personal library.

  29. Abi Taylor says:

    Thanks for the review. I have the previous edition and was very disappointed by the ‘samples’ pictured in the guide – many are very badly knit with uneven stitches and the only ‘stitch design’ I opted to knit from the book had a major error in the pattern. Would like to think that it is the exception rather than the rule, but am not so sure. Nancy Wiseman and Monste Stanley are much better bets.

  30. Lucy is right to turn her back to that book. Frankly, it doesn’t sound like it deserves shelf space in my library. (Shelf space being at a premium here, that’s a biggie.)
    Barbara-Kay´s last blog post ..A magnificent cat

  31. Lucy is so precious! I quit looking at Vogue Knitting on the magazine stand some time ago. It seemed to be more of a collection of promotions by certain yarn companies than a collection of patterns by knitters with popular yarns. I was just glad to have a choice of magazines for different kinds of knitters. I thought perhaps it was My age and that I have been knitting for over 30 years that made me annoyed at the number of “reference” books available in the past few years. All claiming to contain everything a knitter needs to know but as I looked at them I found them very lacking in anything but the very basics. I am relieved to know others feel the same way. I also have the Reader’s Digest Knitter’s Handbook, although I find the layout a bit odd compared to the knit and crochet section of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. Editors and Publishing Companies should always avoid “Definitive” and “Ultimate” in titles. Unless, perhaps it was supposed to be “the ultimate A to Z for Vogue Knitting Magazine knitters”

  32. Thank you for your review on the book. I normally would just buy a book from vogue knitting without giving it a second thought. Thanks for saving me some cash that I can use for more important things, like more yarn stash! My yarn cabinet thanks you for the new addition.

  33. Thanks for the review. As a loyal fan, I would not buy the book simply because you and toe-up are omitted; however, I am sure it is pricey and not worth my $ since I have some many other really good reference books – Like Socks from the Toe Up” which I keep beside my knitting chair at all times.

  34. Your sweater is coming out lovely, I like your review of the book and I don’t think you were harsh. You just said it like it was. I will probably like it.

  35. Caty Bach says:

    I am so glad you wrote about this as I have been curious. The Vogue Stitch dictionaries are rife with errors. It has made me wary of the books Vogue publishes.

  36. Thank you for the review of the book.

  37. I’m with a number of other people. Almost any question I can possibly think of (and many more I haven’t gotten to yet) have already been answered and documented by people like Techknitter or bloggers and designers (who also blog). There is a wealth of information out there available for the googling. A print “encyclopedia” is really of the most use to people who are so new to the craft that they don’t know how to ask the questions yet.

  38. Sorry to say this but I don’t find the typewriter font in your blog redesign to be very attractive or readable. The tabs (white on gray) aren’t readable (P’s and F’s look the same), and the blue on light gray labels are fuzzy and crooked. And yes, I work with fonts on a daily basis so this is one of my pet peeves. But your sweater design? Fabulous.

  39. Maybe they saw no need, since you have already written the ultimate authoritative books on toe up socks. . . complete with patterns and pictures.
    Mary Lee´s last blog post ..POP! Goes the Wiener

  40. Annette says:

    I like the new look and the pictures for past posts at the bottom. Very cool. Fonts talk, that reminds me of the tv show “in the middle”, Brick is the youngest child and has a thing for fonts. smile.

  41. I’ve seen other reviews that echo your feelings. I think that knitting Principles is probably still the best book out there. Couldn’t somebody just reprint it. Updates would be great but then it wouldn’t be the same. Love the new format. Especially attractive for Lucy.

  42. Thanks for your candid reviews of the books…. and your blog. Personally, I love your Toe-Up sock books the best!

  43. I love the sharpness of your cables in that sweater. The finished product will be wonderful.

  44. I’m curious, what is your opinion on the guerilla knitting movement?

  45. This is totally unrelated to your recent blog postings.

    But I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your pictures of Lucy. I’ve never been a cat person. In fact, have never cared much for cats at all. But Lucy could change my mind. She’s beautiful and expressive seems to have quite ‘the’ personality.

  46. I guess knitters still don’t have a guide equal to “The Principles of Knitting” by June Hemmons Hiatt. A copy of that book has been difficult to attain and costly.
    Micki´s last blog post ..More Choices With More Premium Themes

  47. I also received this book as part of my goody bag at Vogue Knitting Live. It was such a wonderful knitting conference, that I hate to diss the book, but how can you not? The words re-hash, random and sloppy come to mind. By the way at least one contributor to the magazine as well as teacher at the conference – Jared Flood – was apparently not mentioned, so that was not the criteria for inclusion/exclusion. If we do not hold up a mirror to less than quality work, then we deserve more of the same. Thanks for sticking your neck out, Wendy!

  48. Considering that there are at least two designs that are knitted sideways,
    it isn’t even true that there are only toe-up and top-down socks.

  49. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for a frank and detailed review! I grow so weary of the endlessly chirpy, “everything’s so fabulous” so-called reviews in knitting magazines both print and online. Enthusiast publications are generally so in thrall to their advertisers, and knitting designers to their sources of “free” yarn, that no one dares utter a critical word. So such “reviews” are little more than advertorial, and provide no service at all to readers. I applaud your bravery and integrity in being willing to say what you think about this latest Vogue “reference.”
    [And I’m with you–and “reference” that claims to be comprehensive and doesn’t explain anything about toe-up sock construction, beyond granting that it’s possible, has utterly failed to be what it claims.]