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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Jane Brocket has thousands of loyal fans, including myself; we find her to be inspirational and stimulating, encouraging and sympathetic. We follow her blog `yarnstorm' and genuinely feel that she is a friend.

In `The Gentle Art of Knitting' Jane has cleverly and thoughtfully put her mind to what most knitters really want to get out of it. And this is perhaps not quite what might expect.

In the past knitters produced clothes and useful items that would otherwise have been too expensive to buy or generally unobtainable in good enough quality as ready made. I started out as one of those followers of Sirdar-style patterns, as my knitting history spans five decades. When I was a girl I knitted to make myself something hopefully attractive to wear to vary my very limited wardrobe. My mother, aunts and grandmothers knitted to keep children warm, well dressed and comfortable. They felt that to have idle hands was a sin.

So in those times the sensual feel, possible fashionable colour way of the yarn was not really considered. Artificial fibres would withstand washing and wear well - baby's `pram sets', school V necked jumpers, socks, scarves, knitted with plastic or metal needles fiercely clacking away, had a hard, shiny, harsh feel. The aim then was to knit like a machine, to produce an item that looked as if it had been made in a factory! Women did knitting at home for others at the price of the ball of wool for their labour. Now with smooth quiet bamboo needles and gorgeous silk, cashmere, merino, alpaca yarns, knitting can be a real therapeutic joy.

Today the price of yarn is quite surprising and the range rather bewildering. Jane Brocket has researched far and wide, for this is her hobby, she just loves fossicking around yarn shops all over the place, learning about new mixes, niche suppliers and all the while keeping an eye on what will be satisfying and exciting to make up. So the new way of knitting is creative, artistic and impressively individual.

We need help here, as most knitters are unlikely to have a cosy well- stocked wool shop on their high street. Those that do can join their in-store knitting circles try out yarns and see the possibilities - and what pleasure there is to be had from that. More usual now is the need to order online and many great sites service this, supplying all the lovely kit we need in a speedy and efficient way. Jane has tracked them all down and provides the most useful wide- ranging index of suppliers.

She also puts her mind to other matter - degrees of difficulty in executing the pattern. Sometimes a most complicated and skilful project may appeal and with proper lighting, uninterrupted peace and quiet (well something good to listen to on the radio) this may be achievable and hugely rewarding. However most of the time knitting will be a secondary activity, pieces of work being picked up and put down according to the mood and time allowed - so Jane has found 40 projects that will be just the ticket.

Because she is a normal person, like us, Jane Brocket can see what might trip us up or put us off. Using the benefit of her experience she only offers ideas that she has already had a bash at. Only she would dream up knitting up a bed blanket in a manageable fashion by knitting five long scarves, which are called back in from good use to be sewn together when the work is complete. Crocheting gets a good look in too, with the most glorious suggestion for Starburst Flower squares, all photographed in a delightfully nostalgically vintage chic way. Literary hotties dressed in Penguin orange, Persephone dove grey and turquoise Pelican just beg to be made. Church Bazaar stripy tea cosies look addictive. Jane gives us directions for all size of teapot right down to doll's tea set. Best for me was the `Simple, Squishy Slouchy hat' even though on looking up the yarns online the expenditure would be more than you'd imagine. Think couture... It would be fun to master that one pattern alone to create a selection for Christmas gifts. One you'd completed the first one, future efforts would rattle off the needles. After all you have to do something with your hands while watching tv. Jane even has suggestions as to what films to watch while making flowers (for the tea cosies)...

This book is a joy to behold. The colours, patterns, bits and bobs to go with, all tempt and entrance. The photography is just fabulous. As in the wonderful book The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home Jane rattles on in the background telling us stuff we just love to hear. Her educated view on what makes people content and happy stands strong and firm. Her anecdotes amuse and entertain; her observations widen our horizons and enhance our vision. I just can't recommend getting to know Jane Brocket more highly.

p.s. I had added images of my first creation - the chunky cushion cover from page 25. Sadly I have 'Loose tension' and my cables are wonky despite my unpicking the front twice to try to put it right. Yes it does look like a plaited loaf and would look great in a golden beige colour. The out lay is a consideration - the skeins of Cascade Magnum - two of which only just did the job; I had to miss two of the last rows making the back flap to be sure of having enough. Also the investment in the new circular needles, cable needle and filling. So a pricey project but quite satisfying now it's complete.
The trouble is as with everything in decor, it's always best to have two to balance. Over a hundred for two cushions..
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on 26 August 2011
A generous 3 stars is all I am able to give this book. I really do not agree with the amount of high praise for it. The choice of patterns in this book is limited. At first glance it is pretty but there are only two projects I would make - the knitted blanket and the crochet blanket. There are many similar and prettier blankets free online on Ravelry, competing blogs and other sites. The knitted blanket although lovely is so simple a ten year old wouldn't need a pattern. Other patterns such as a hot water bottle cover are nice as a concept but there are just more attractive designs that I would make instead - knitting is an investment of time and money so unless I really loved a pattern I would not bother with it. The styling of the book is a bit misleading in my view as it encourages you at first glance to see the rather ordinary patterns as nicer than they actually are.

The yarn suggested for making the tea cosy apparently costs £55 according to an online review I read and according to a reviewer on here, if I understand correctly, it will cost £100 to make 2 cushions. This is just unnecessary. I realise one can use whatever yarn one wants but I find the whole concept of this book over indulgent. The less than subtle message is, if you can't afford to do it `right' then don't do it. After you have purchased the book of course (and that is the most affordable thing). It offers the dream, but unless you too can afford expensive yarn, that is all your knitting will remain; at least if you want it to look like the version in the book. The blog too is like this, an elitist message offering a luxury lifestyle for people to aspire to but really only available for a very rare few who have the ready cash available. Beauty is easy with minimum effort from luxury materials, a luxury yarn is already beautiful is it not? Some people have the artistry to make beauty from just about anything. There is self-satisfied note to this book which I don't enjoy.

I remember reading that Jane Brocket had no pretensions to be a designer as those skills were not really hers, rather, she enjoyed using patterns. I think it is a great shame that much actual talent is ignored while someone with a lot of support produces very basic and uninspiring patterns at their expense. A complaint made about the first book was that it had no patterns - there was a reason for that!

It is a glossy book with little of actual merit to recommend it once the shine has worn off. I also do myself find the idea of a knitted apron totally bizarre. That of course is a matter of taste. I am sorry to have fallen for the hype and will be passing the book on. (Perhaps to someone who doesn't knit but enjoys pretty pictures).
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on 19 May 2011
People who know Jane Brocket's blog or her previous books, will know what to expect from her latest offering. Classic projects with a twist, captured with beautiful photography and words. Those not familiar with Jane's blog and it's riot of colour and domestic themes are missing out, but this book is a great introduction to it.

The Gentle Art of Knitting is not a typical pattern book. It contains 40 patterns (mostly knitting, some crochet) which appear well written (though I have not yet knitted from them). The projects are underpinned by a narrative, describing where Jane finds her inspiration and some discussion of her choices.

The patterns range from the very simple (a dishcloth, for example) to the more challenging (socks). In general, I thought the patterns were well selected. I should think most people would find something they like. However, I doubt it's the kind of book that you will want to knit you way through. More, I think it will be a starting point for finding your own inspiration and it's always nice to have a book or two like that on one's shelf.

My favourite projects are the bunting, the slouchy hat and the simple garter stitch hot water bottle. I love the apron too, but there's no way I'm knitting all that stocking stitch!
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on 14 June 2011
I feel sad not to be giving this book a rave review as I really like Jane Brockett from her blog. I enjoyed her quilting book ( perhaps because I am new to quilting ) but I am not new to knitting and this book was a disappointment. I bought it sight unseen as I had enjoyed the quilting book. There were only two patterns (out of about 40) that I wanted to knit, both of them for cushions. The patterns are very ordinary and vary from the simple (dishcloths and egg cosies) to the bizarre ( a knitted apron and knitted bunting). I have never understood why anyone would want an egg cosy or a knitted dishcloth for that matter. The book gave me the feeling that the publishers had said you must have a variety of patterns from the easy to more difficult and include socks, scarves,hat, gloves etc. However, it is all beautifully photographed and well written. What Jane Brockett does very well for the new knitter is give good information about the joys of Ravelry and the other online delights available. She also lists useful sites for purchasing yarn, but none of this will be new to experienced knitters.I know how much work it is to produce a book like this, I just wish it were more inspirational.
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on 27 May 2011
I purchased this book as soon as it was released as I have loved all of the author's other books. On first glance I was slightly disappointed with the selection of patterns- only one jumper (a lovely oversized comfy jumper) and lots of smaller items that I skipped past. However on second and third reading I found that this was a book that I adored. The beautiful pictures and inspiring words sucked me in and I soon found myself knitting my first pair of socks. I don't think this book would appeal to all knitters especially those who like only to knit clothing and those who want very difficult patterns. But if you like the author's blog I think you'll appreciate the projects she has included as they are reminiscent of projects she has shown there over the years. The projects in the book include a hot water bottle cover, an apron, 2 pairs of socks, beautiful scarves, a hat, various cushion covers. She features beautiful yarns in a realistic way- rather than suggesting an expensive yarn for a jumper or dress she uses it for a small item like a scarf or cushion so the knitter is not been asked to make a huge investment.
Overall I'd highly recommend this book.
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on 15 March 2018
Good book but as a novice knitter I would have liked some more guides. I bought this book because I want to make the tea cosy on the front cover but I will have to learn ruched knitting before I can make it.
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on 15 September 2011
This could also be called The Great Joy of Knitting. I don't think that it is aimed at the seasoned knitter but more for those who need a nudge to start. It is brushing away the stuffiness of the craft and saying why it is so enjoyable and what motivates those to keep knitting.

I think it is refreshing for an author to say why she opts for knitting an item a certain way; for example on knitting blankets she points out why she would not use Moss stitch (we all love Moss stitch but oh it seems to take a long time to knit) and the fact that she finds knitting squares a turn off as sewing them up later would be a ...'mind-numbingly tedious exercise'. She then gives an alternative blanket design to try.

Reading Jane Brocket's book is like listening to a fellow-member of a knitting group. I think this would be an excellent gift for a teenager who fancies having a go or to someone who wants to start knitting again after a long break. KN
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on 23 October 2011
Having enjoyed Jane Brocket's blog and having purchased the Quilting book I bought this book straight away and was not disappointed. The instructions are clear and as usual with her books the photography is beautiful.
Jane uses best quality yarns to acheive a classic look in all her knitting, even a basic face cloth is made from top quality cotton yarn. (no acrylic here!).
This book is not a knitting book for experienced knitters looking for original garment patterns. It is suitable for someone seeking inspiration and ideas on yarn and colour by an intelligent author.
A treat for knitters but not an essential guide or must-have pattern book.
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on 9 June 2011
This is a beautifully produced book, and a really good read, as well as being packed with useful patterns.
For anyone who loves to knit for sheer pleasure, and with thought for the people who may receive the knitted items, this is an inspiring book. Every aspect of each knitted piece is a joy: from the source of its inspiration, to the technicalities of which yarn to choose and special details about the design. It is a book that feels like it has been written with love - and as most of the things I make are for people I love, I shall enjoy using it!
I highly recommend it.
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on 15 June 2013
Coming back to knitting after many years, I did indeed find this a gentle way of doing it. It's a delightful book to browse whether you take up the knitting pins or not.
The service was great - getting the book to me very quickly. It was packed well enough for it to get here undamaged and the low price gave me the chance to enjoy a book I could not otherwise have afforded.
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