Nearly a year ago, I reviewed the book Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods by Leslie Ann Bestor and promised a review of Cap Sease’s book Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reviewing Sease’s book. Maybe it has something to do with me being a world class procrastinator. Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here are my thoughts on 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting and how it compares to 54 Step-by-Step Methods.
211 Ways is printed on heavy, glossy paper and has a wire binding underneath a hard cover.
It is a very large book, approximately 11.5 inches by 9 inches; the thick, glossy paper feels substantial and gives the impression that this is a book that will hold up under constant use. The wire binding means that the book lies flat when open. However, the large format of the book makes it clunky to use. It cannot be tucked into a project back, and when opened, it needs a large, flat surface to lie on. I don’t know about you, but when I’m knitting, I don’t have a large, flat surface on which to lay a large book, and it just doesn’t fit well on my lap. The large size of the book also makes it a little awkward to turn the pages and difficult to just flip through the book.
The book has an index in the back that makes it easy to find a specific cast-on or bind-off or a specific type of cast-on or bind-off, e.g. provisional, tubular, stretchy, etc. The charts in the beginning of the book make it quick and easy to find cast-ons and bind-offs with the characteristics the knitter is looking for and to find a cast-on and bind-off that match.
The step-by-step instructions are illustrated with drawings, and there is a photograph of a knitted swatch of each cast-on and bind-off. In my opinion, drawings tend to be better for illustrating techniques than photographs because they show more detail. But there’s no substitute for photographs of knitted swatches to show exactly what the cast-on or bind-off will look like.
Unfortunately, the knitted swatches were done in heathered and tonal yarns and just don’t show the detail as clearly as light, solid-colored yarn would have.
As one might expect, a large book with a hard cover, wire binding, high-quality paper, and lots of color illustrations doesn’t come cheap. The list price of Cast On, Bind Off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting is $27.99 US which is a lot higher than the list price of Bestor’s book ($16.95 US), but if you buy from Amazon, Sease’s book is a very reasonable $19.99 US.
So, what would I recommend? If you are into collecting knitting reference books, both of these books are worth purchasing. If you just want a book that is a guide to different cast-ons and bind-offs and when to use them, Bestor’s book wins hands down. It’s compact size makes it perfect for tucking into your project bag. It’s layout makes it easier to use because the pictures and instructions are side by side. Here’s a picture of how the same cast-on is treated in both books.
No, you really don’t need 211 cast-ons and bind-offs. Fifty-four are plenty for any knitter. Bestor’s book is not only a better value, it’s a better book.