Special family knits: 25 handknits for all seasons

Debbie Bliss patterns are always worth a look, if not for the actual pattern, then certainly for inspiration. ‘Special family knits: 25 handknits for all seasons’ has great basic garments, some old favourites like a cabled cricket sweater, and some classics with a (literal) little twist here and there.

A simple cardigan, for example, has its rib pattern twist into little cables that give the cardie a whole new look.

The same is true for a Guernsey sweater for men. Guernseys often sport all-over patterns, which make the garments a bit heavy and is sometimes tiring to knit. The book shows an alternative that only has the top third of the sweater patterned, the rest is knitted in plain stocking stitch, which looks very attractive.

One sock pattern, however, seems a bit suspicious. I’m not sure if I even want to try it because the socks in the picture are sagging and look as if only a strong elastic could hold them up.

Of course, they could simply be too big for the wearer in the photo, but I suspect these socks will always sag, no matter what. The lace pattern is beautiful, though. It looks a bit like a leaf-and-twig lace that I hadn’t seen in a sock pattern before. Here comes the inspiration…

As always, the cutest garments are for babies and kids. There are some Fair Isle and plain cardies, a tiny ballet wrap, a hoodie and some hats, all of which involve only simple techniques and are quick to knit.

All Debbie Bliss books are written to increase sales of Debbie Bliss yarns, but that’s just a small niggle and doesn’t diminish the simple beauty of these patterns for classic garments.

And at the end of the book, instructions for yarn substitution are given, so readers are not forced to go with hard-to-get Debbie Bliss yarns. All the clothes in the photos are knitted in subdued colours and no variegated yarns have been used.

I wouldn’t have minded a few bolder colours, but I suppose the plain ones better show off the clean lines of plain knitting and absolutely flawless finishing techniques.

Although I think it’s a beautiful book with useful patterns I probably won’t go and buy this book.

For starters, I don’t knit for kids and all the garments would have to be heavily changed to accommodate my considerable bulk. But for inspiration, I would definitely get it from the library, and maybe even make the saggy socks or the Fair Isle beanie.

Special family knits: 25 handknits for all seasons: Debbie Bliss


I started to write when I was about seven - and only minutes later I started to cook. Since then I've slightly refined techniques and discovered a few more words and ingredients, but not much else has changed: Words and food are my thread through Knossos. I was born in Germany where I lived and worked for more than 35 years. There I trained to be a cook, kindergarten teacher and graphic artist. In the 1980s I lived and worked in England and France. About a decade ago I started my latest stint right here in New Zealand, where I worked as a graphic artist, creator of bags and beanies, caterer, writer, baker and cook.