Book Reviews: The Harmony Guides

I’ve been at home for the past three days. I’m quite ready to go back to work. In fact, I’ve been ready to go back since Day 1. Why? Well, Luciano had eye surgery on Tuesday to remove pterygiums he has in each eye. They started with the right eye. The other eye will be some time after this first one heals. The surgeon sent a car to pick him up on Tuesday and bring him back.

I got to stay home with G-Luc most of the day. Just us two. Alone. This means I had all the fun of chasing him around, cleaning up after him, changing diapers, preventing him from hurting himself after having climbed on the top bunk bed unbeknownst to me. I mean, I do this in the evenings…with the help of Daddy and G-Luc’s 3 siblings. God Bless all of them for having the patience to chase after this rugrat. And look at that saintly face:

G-Luc 19 mos

I’m happy to say that I survived that half day and that my belief in working full-time has been properly re-cemented into my brain. I adore adore adore my children but God help us all if I had to stay home. all. day. every. day. with the kids. This housewife shit ain’t for me. Carting kids back and forth from school at set times. Figuring out what to feed them for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND SNACKS every day! This is why I spoil my husband ROTTEN for being a stay at home dad. Shit, the dude deserves a Medal of Honor. So when he asked for that new Sharp Blu Ray DVD, he got it ASAP – to go with the 46″ Sharp Aquos TV he got for Christmas!

Recently, I’ve been on a book-buying kick. I’ve made several hefty additions to my library including Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton and Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti.

Among these, I’ve purchased the Harmony Guides. First I bought the new ones that came out not so long ago. After reading several differing opinions on Ravelry regarding which are better, I decided to see for myself, so I ordered the older versions. I’m missing Volume 2 from my collection as it’s still on backorder with Amazon. I chose not to purchase Volumes 6 & 7 as these are both crochet stitch dictionaries.

Harmony Guides (1)

Harmony Guides (2)

I’ll start with the old set. First off, Volume 1 of these is all about knitting techniques and tips. How to’s, etc. It covers everything from understanding a pattern to finishing a garment and caring for it. It has no stitches (unless you count basic cables but that’s really a how-to on cabling). So, I don’t really count this book as a stitch dictionary.

Volumes 3, 4 and 5 all begin with pages showing you basic techniques, abbreviations, symbols, chart reading, and an index of the patterns. Volume 3 is the one with the most pages covering these subjects.

Volume 3 includes “patterns for texture and colour, cable patterns and panels, lace panels,” as stated on the cover. It has a nice variety of rib patterns, many pages of all-over lace patterns and several pages of lace edgings. If you can only purchase one of the books and want the widest variety, I would say Volume 3 is for you.

Volume 4 includes “slip stitch mosaics, cross stitch patterns and panels, cable panels.” Some of the stitch patterns in this book are charted, although a few that ARE charted are mostly knit and purl so it makes for a lousy chart full of |’s and –‘s (the symbols for knit and purl in the book).

Volume 5 is your Aran stitches and patterns. It includes “diamonds, cables, twists, honeycombs, textures, panels, backgrounds.” Every single pattern is charted. Again, these are difficult for me to read as I’m used to blank spaces signifying a knit stitch as opposed to a symbol so the charts look crowded. But they are still useful, particularly if you know how to cable without a needle. One of the features of this particular volume that is so loved by many is the fact that the cable designs are sorted by row repeats. Makes it handy when you need to find a particular pattern to fit within a certain number of rows.

The layout in all the volumes is… for lack of a better word!

Harmony Guides (3)

I like all of these volumes well enough and I will definitely keep them in my library since they’re going out of print anyway.

But my favorites are definitely the newer models!


Harmony Guides (4)

I’ve flagged MANY pages in all three of the updated volumes. These include: Lace & Eyelets, Knit & Purl, and Cables & Arans. Each volume is CHOCK FULL of stitches. I know many people have said that these new volumes provide way less stitches: 750 total compared to the 1,360 if you own all of the KNITTING volumes of the older versions (I’m not counting the crochet volumes here). I haven’t sat down to compare one by one what volumes are missing what stitches, but, quite honestly, I don’t feel like I’m missing out.




Each new volume has pages covering basic stitches, abbreviations and symbols, and an index. Maybe not as much detail as their predecessors but enough to get you to understand the volume you’re looking at. In fact, the detail is a lot LESS than the older volumes. I didn’t miss any of that either because I have books that are dedicated to those types of things so personally, I don’t need this inside my stitch dictionaries.


Harmony Guides

The layout of the patterns (one per page) sealed the deal for making these my favorites. And the SUPER CLEAR larger pictures that accompany each pattern are great. They show every stitch in full color detail (I want the camera that took those pictures).



So far I have about 3 knit patterns which I’m designing that include stitches from the new versions of the Harmony Guides. While I still use and thumb through my Barbara Walker Treasuries (I have all except Volume 4), the new Harmonies are a refreshing, full-color, modern take on stitch dictionaries.

9 thoughts on “Book Reviews: The Harmony Guides”

  1. Oh Gian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That stay at home shit ain’t for me either, unless I’m home sans kiddo and hubby!

  2. Yeah if I stayed home, I’d be in rehab right now, not hubby! LOL!

    I’ve got what must be a “vintage” Harmony Guide. It’s only one, but I gotta say I like it!

  3. did you find the repeat(s) in the new cables book? identical except for a slight change in wording (and probably the name of the stitch). that bugged me too much, so I probably won’t get the new Harmony’s. that and I have the first 3 Barbara Walkers and all 3 Vogues – how many stitch dictionaries do I need?

    that said, I may have to get the old vol’s 3 & 5.

  4. I have 2 out of the 3 newer Harmonies (lace/eyelets, cables/arans). I love them.

    And stay at home? Some days, I think I’d like it. Other days? I’d rather poke my eyes out with sharp knitting needles.

  5. Dunno if I can defect from Barbara Walker because she’s classic and the creme de la creme when it comes to those stitch books. BUT…I kinda agree with Turtlegirl. You are making me want the new Harmonies too. In our prior convo’s I’d like to try a japanese stitch dictionary.

  6. Wow, I never knew about the Harmonies books. Thanks for the review on them. Hehe..I could so not be a SAHM or a homeschooling mom…my kids would be..well let’s just say not too smart LOL! Kudos to those who can, just not me 😉

  7. Thanks for the compare and contrast!

    Hope you are back to normal over there and Luc’s eye is healing nicely!
    He has grown so much since you’ve shown him last!!

    Hey – do you know where I can get some get instruction on double knitting??

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