The sub-title of Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook (Abrams, 2016) is: A Breakthrough Guide to Knitting with Cables and Designing your Own. While the editor in me cringes at all the capital letters, the knitter and designer in me is excited by the mere thought of having a Norah Gaughan book in my hands, in particular, one that combines the art of cables and designing your own.
This is such a delightful book to read/drool over. Clear concise instructions on all the cable examples help the newbie and intermediate level cable knitter in grasping the technicalities and intricacies of cable knitting. For the more experienced knitter, the examples and their instructions will deepen their knowledge and desire to create.
The book begins with an introduction in which Gaughan writes about her knitting background before briefly introducing how the book develops. ‘This is’, she writes:
‘in the most basic sense, a stitch dictionary with 152 different cable patterns and a project book featuring 15 garments.’ (p 8)
But the book is more than this. She writes:
‘I have done my best to explain in words and photos how one cable design leads to the next…and I hope that this information will inspire you to try out many different cables and also give you the confidence to invent your own.’ (p 8)
Moving past the introduction, the reader is treated to one of the best ‘essentials’ I have ever read. Working from the basics (choosing yarn and cable needle, using a double-pointed needle, right/left slant, slipping stitches to cable needle, working held stitches) to cable terminology, written instructions and charts, symbol anatomy and troubleshooting, Gaughan’s writing style is both a delight to read as much as it is to inform.
The nitty-gritty of the book is of course the cables and the designs. It is here Gaughan shows her expertise and knowledge depth. She begins with the basics: ropes, braids and horseshoes and moves at a leisurely pace into adding breadth and expanding cables, finding motifs, and finally, drawing cables.
One stand-out feature for me are the examples of substituting stitches to make new cables. For example, on page 42, the reader learns how ‘swapping ribs, texture, twisted stitches and even lace for stockinette stitch within a cable can yield exciting new results.’
A mention has to be made on the designs. There are scarves, hats, ponchos, afghans, cardigans and pullovers all of which are begging to be made.
I leave the last word to Norah Gaughan herself:
‘This book is meant to be both a resource for existing cable patterns and a jumping-off point for making new cable discoveries.’ (p9)
In every sense, Norah Gaughan has achieved her goal. It is a resource I shall return to many times and for all cable knitters, I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: I do not know Norah Gaughan nor do I have any connection with her publishing company.