Craft book review: Knits at Home

Forget the tea cosies, Knits at Home is a guide to making your home a work of art

Our expectations were high for Knits at Home. Firstly, it’s by the team behind innovative knitwear company Ruth Cross – who made Bella’s cabled mittens in the Twilight films, dontcha know? It’s also published by Interweave – the American publisher renowned for its sophisticated, must-make crafty books.

A quick skim reveals the gorgeous, grown-up aesthetic suggested by the subtitle: Rustic Designs for the Modern Nest. There’s a subdued palette of neutrals, greys and the occasional dark blue or dusty pink – all styled against simple backdrops of rough wood and painted walls. The texture of the knitted projects really pops.

Ruth writes: “One of my main aims for Knits at Home is to explain how knit works as a structure, and to encourage experimentation around this… My mantra is for hand-knitted designs to look hand made, not home made.”

Projects vary from rugs to cushions to lacy curtains, but the book begins with basic knitting instructions, including beautifully shot images of knit and purl stitches, and a simple project of stripy lavender bags. There is also a super cosy tasselled bedthrow.

The book then delves into different methods of experimentation, such as swapping yarns and needle sizes and trying different stitches (with instructions for textural stitches such as basket, lace and the asking-for-trouble Mistake Stitch Rib). Cross suggests deliberately starting ladders, or sewing different pieces of knitting together – the effect is interesting and architectural rather than wacky. Projects include a geometric cable throw we want to look at as well as snuggle up in.

In the chapter Bespoke Knitting for Your Home, there are tips on adapting projects like the cabled chair cushion for your own furniture. The final section looks at adding embellishments such as fringing, weaving and gathering, culminating in ideas for a real show-stopper of a woven wallhanging.

It is not often that knitting books encourage knitters to go “off piste” and add their own twists to projects – the ethos in Knits at Home is to encourage makers to be as creative as possible, to use knitting as an art. That said, it would take a very confident knitter to make the leap to tinkering with projects for cabled chair cushions. However we found Cross’ instructions very clear for those who like to closely follow step-by-steps, and there is a thorough knitting guide at the back.

Only two quibbles: some of the projects take knitting for the home to an extreme (knitted vase covers, anyone?); and while there are plenty of smaller projects, and some calling for leftover stash, others use an expensive 10+ balls of yarn. It is testament however to the book’s enthusiasm and charm that we were already flexing our credit cards by the final page.

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