Book review: Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor

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There are a lot of great things going for Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods; Find the perfect start and finish for every knitting project by Leslie Ann Bestor.   This book is all about edges – it includes 33 techniques for casting on and 21 methods for binding off.  When I first heard about it a few months ago, I asked the nice people at Storey Publishing for a review copy, which they were kind enough to send along.

The concept is that this book can serve as a one-stop resource for finding the perfect cast on and/or bind off for your project.  The design of the book – small enough to be portable and including a spiral binding so you can lay it flat while reading and knitting – actually helps to advance that concept.  The front and back inside cover include handy lists of different types of cast ons and bind offs so you can quickly find a technique to match your project.  To further assist you, the cast on and bind off methods are listed in sections.  For cast ons, the sections are Basic, Stretchy, Decorative, Circular, Double-Sided, Multicolor, Provisional, Tubular, and Mobius, and for bind offs, the sections are Basic, Stretchy, Decorative, and Sewn.  There is also a detailed index.

Each cast on or bind off method includes a list of common alternate names, a brief introduction, a picture of the front, back, and top/bottom of the method, a list of characteristics (e.g., “Firm edge that does not stretch”) and a list of project types that the method is good for.  Each method is then described in step-by-step photographs with brief accompanying text.  Some of the methods include extra tips in a side box called Getting It Right.

If you have a vague awareness of different cast on and bind off methods, I think this is the perfect guide to jog your memory and also to remind (or inform) you which projects you might want to match to a particular technique.  I’m not as convinced that the average knitter could learn to master these methods from the pictures and text alone.  For example, while the pictures do show step-by-step action, there are no illustrative graphics (such as arrows) which might indicate how the needles, fingers, and/or yarn got from one position to the next.  Similarly, the text is rather brief because it is assumed that the pictures are “doing the talking.”

As a one-stop resource guide, the book doesn’t quite hit the mark.  However, it is a great little book that can definitely serve as a reminder about a technique you may not be very familiar with.  It would be much better to have this book and supplement it with a YouTube video about a particular method than to try and do a Google search for random cast on or bind off methods that might be suited to a particular project type.  In fact, the resources section in the back includes some great links to videos demonstrating some of the techniques in the book.

Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars for an intermediate knitter.  If you like to start and end projects on the go (especially when you may not have internet access), this book is especially great because of the portable, lay flat design.

I’m keeping my review copy because I think it will be a great resource to share with my knitting classes.  But if you follow along with the Cast On, Bind Off blog tour through July 30, you’ll have a chance to win your own copy of the book in each post.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

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