No-Bull Book Review: The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook, by Melissa Leapman

I have a pal in the industry who, when she isn’t sure what the right or best thing is to do, asks herself “What would Melissa Leapman do?” I know exactly what my pal means, because my admiration for Melissa is sky-high. She is such a class act; incredibly productive but everything she produces is wonderful (I wish I could figure THAT trick out); and she is one of the nicest, funniest, kindest people you could ever meet in this world. So I am delighted to offer this review of her latest knitting book, The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook: An Essential Collection of 300 Designer Stitches and Techniques (Pottercraft; paperback available for $17.03/Kindle available for $13.00 as of this writing via the link).


Being pretty fanatical about knitting, I am one of those people who believes that if one stitch dictionary is good, ten stitch dictionaries are better, and so I’m always on the lookout for a good volume of stitch patterns. I know, o jaded ones, you will roll your eyes at me and tell me that there is a lot of duplication from volume to volume, and that may be true, but for me, if a particular version of a stitch pattern, or even a particular photograph of a stitch pattern fires off a creative synapse in my brain, or a slightly different version opens up new possibilities in my mind, then I don’t care if I have duplicate or near-duplicate versions of stitch patterns in my library. But what is especially great about this particular stitch dictionary is its breadth — 300 different patterns, including knit and purl patterns, lace and lacy patterns, cable and crossed-stitch patterns, slip-stitch patterns and a catchall for unique patterns/motifs. If you’re looking for one multi-purpose volume with variety and breadth, then you will be hard-pressed to find another single volume as good as this one.

The book starts out with a clear and useful section on exactly how to use the stitches it contains: how to read the stitch patterns (if you’re a new knitter, it’s nice to have a cogent explanation of what things like “multiple of 16 + 2″ mean), how to use them to create your own designs, converting patterns for knitting in the round, how to shape in the context of your pattern, and how to combine several stitch patterns in the same design. Helpful stuff, all of it.

Next are the stitches themselves, divided into the five categories mentioned above. Here’s where things get very useful:

  • each stitch pattern is shown in a color photograph;
  • a symbol indicates if the stitch pattern is reversible; if it’s different on the public (RS) and private (WS) sides, BOTH are shown in color;
  • stitch patterns are both charted AND written out in words;
  • stitch patterns are graded by how easy or hard they are.

It requires a tremendous amount of work to do things like chart and write out every pattern — so kudos to Melissa and PotterCraft for providing such a comprehensive resource.  The last section of the book contains abbreviations and diagrams showing techniques used in the various stitches.

Clear, easy-to-read layout, nicely photographed swatches, color photos, all of the quality we’ve come to expect from PotterCraft.

(Erm, do I have to tell you that there are no project patterns in this book?  You know, BECAUSE IT IS A STITCH DICTIONARY?!? No?  Good.)

But although there are not any project patterns in this book, there is something better: an infinite world of possibility limited only by your imagination. Well done, Ms. Leapman.

5 Thoughts

  1. Patty says:

    Hmmm . . . I wonder who the first line of your blog refers to :)

    Another fabulously written review. Perhaps the next question I ask myself should be “How would Carol Sulcoski write that”.

  2. Carol says:

    I didn’t want to out the person with the slavish devotion to Melissa Leapman….(;

  3. Ruby says:

    I love all the stitch dictionaries I have. Always a great thing to wonder through them and imagine all the things a single stitch can become.


  4. Kirsten says:

    I purchased the Kindle version the day it came out. Melissa’s new book goes above and beyond most stitch dictionaries with its thorough explanation on working stitch patterns into garment shaping. An excellent reference for all knitters.

  5. Jocelyn says:

    And it’s dedicated to ME!

Reply to Carol