Knitting Block by Block: 150 Blocks for Sweaters, Scarves, Bags, Toys, Afghans, and More, by Nicky Epstein, (Potter Craft), 240 pages, release date 9 November 2010
Nicky Epstein is a remarkably prolific designer with the ability to come up with truly original ideas again and again. I first discovered this when I can across her book Knitting on the Edge, which offers a compendium of edgings and cast-ons that a creative knitter can use to design her own pieces or to add a distinctive touch to a piece knitted from a commercial pattern. This book was followed by Knitting Over the Edge and Knitting Beyond the Edge, which offered more ideas for designing or customizing knits.
Knitting Block by Block is another Epstein book in this tradition. While it does offer a smattering of patterns for garments and accessories what Knitting Block by Block really offers is patterns for knit blocks. It’s up to the knitter to choose the blocks she likes and to make them for her own purposes. Blocks can, of course, become pillows. They can also become afghans and shawls. Turning blocks into finished garments is a more dicey matter—a sweater made exclusively of blocks with no shaping won’t do anything for most figures.
Although Knitting Block by Block contains some blocks that a beginning knitter could manage, this really isn’t a book for beginners. Many of the blocks require more advanced skills like stranded color work, different types of grafts, ruffles, and the making of 3-D embellishments.
The mix of blocks here ranges from the beautiful to the what-was-she-thinking-of? Beautiful blocks include some of the lace patterns and mutli-dimensional Celtic knots. The what-was-she-thinking-of? blocks include knit squares with random holes in them, a square appliqued with ribbons and zippers, and one decorated with ping-pong ball sized knit puffs that look like popcorn stitches gone bubonic.
If you’re a knitter who enjoys cooking up her own projects you’ll find inspiration here, though some of the blocks are really not much different from the stitch patterns one can find in any good stitch dictionary. Epstein will give you a lot to think about and play with. It’s up to you how wild you want to get.