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Book Review: "The New Knitter's Spellbook"

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This is a review of The New Knitter’s Spellbook by Ethelinda Audley, available from Flourish & Blotts beginning May 5.

Ethelinda Audley’s revision of her 1988 classic belongs in every knitter’s library. Twice as long and with nearly 100 more spells than the original edition, this reference work is sure to be flying off the shelves.

Highlights include:

  • The Unknitting Spell, already beloved by knitters for making an already frustrating event (finding a mistake) that much less frustrating, has been modified to be more controllable. You’ll now be able to undo your work back to the exact point where you made your mistake, instead of only being able to undo to the beginning of a row.
  • The Cable Re-Crossing Spell, a new addition, can be used to fix cable patterns anywhere in your garment: a lifesaver for when you don’t notice the backwards cable an inch above your cast-on until you’re about to bind off for the armhole. In addition, Miss Audley points out that this spell can be used to transform complicated cable patterns into something that looks completely different with only a few flicks of a wand. She provides a dozen cable patterns with instructions for transforming them, including pictures of both versions. If you like having two sweaters for the price of one, this spell is for you!
  • The Colorwork Spell can now not only be worked with charts created specifically for knitting, but also on any picture of your choice. How close the approximation will come depends only on how many colors of wool you include in the purview of the spell.
  • Ten new cast-ons and a matching identical bind-off for each one, so both ends of your work will look the same!
  • Example patterns, one of the most deplored omissions from the previous edition, are now included in the back of the book, showing practical applications for several of the more specific spells. The patterns also include several suitable for beginning knitters; some incorporate spells throughout, for adult learners, while some of the simplest include swathes of stockinette that can be worked by children who are not yet allowed to use magic out of school, with only a few spells to be performed by a parent at the beginning and end of the work.

We can look forward to seeing many of these new spells incorporated in patterns over the next year, including in some books already in press whose authors have been lucky enough to consult with Miss Audley. Until then, intrepid knitters can do their best to substitute the book’s pattern spells into their own work. And of course, some of the spells, like the Unknitting Spell, have universal applications to any knitting project.