With the internet what it is today, most people don’t see the need for a library at home. I’m not one of those people. I have a collection of favorite books that I’ve read over the years and I like to keep a copy of a few of them close at hand. While I’m not much of a fan of watching movies over and over (usually), I do like to re-read a good book from time to time. When it comes to knitting, I find it essential to have your books and magazines close at hand. Not only are they an invaluable reference guide, it’s great to pull some out every now and then and look over the patterns for inspiration. If your collection goes back far enough, you’ll realize that old adage is very true – the more things change the more they stay the same. Fashion seems to be one big circle and what goes around, comes around. Take the current trend in men’s wear of everything being double breasted for example (personally I love this), and women are seeing the re-birth of leg warmers, bat-wings, and shoulder pads (yikes). As a designer this is great because instead of re-inventing the wheel you simply have to vamp up old styles to fit the contemporary tastes.
I am, at heart however, a fan of the classics. I also believe there are essentials that you MUST have in order to increase your basic understanding of the fundamental principles of knitting. Once you have that as a foundation, you’ll find it much easier to experiment and diversify. To this end, I’d like to do a series of posts (maybe one a month for a few months) on some books I think are essentials to your library. Shall we begin?
How to Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course by Debbie Bliss – We all have to start somewhere and while I learned to knit by reading Learn to Knit by Susan Bates, I think this book is head and shoulders above all the other learn to knit books out there. I obviously haven’t read (or even seen) them all, but I really wish Debbie was around when I was learning to knit. She starts at the beginning, cast on, and then the knit stitch, and by the end (through a series of 13 projects) she has you doing an entre-lac project! There are lots of pictures and the instructions are easy to follow. Even an experienced knitter will find useful tips in this book.
Big Book of Knitting by Katharina Buss – If you’re like me and can’t get enough information, this book is for you. It’s like having an encyclopedia in one book. There are similar books out there, but this one has it all in less space, and with more diagrams and variety in the techniques. There are more than 8 ways to cast on and this one is one of the few that I have seen that tells you about selvedge stitches at the start. After you have learned how to make just about any kind of sweater, there is also a stitch library in the back to show you a few patterns and what they look like. This book is definitely a must have.
The Ultimate Knitter’s Guide by Kate Buller – I really like this book. It’s unique presentation has information and patterns on the top of the page, and techniques and tips on the bottom of the split page display. This way you can be looking at a specific pattern or project, and the corresponding technique on the bottom of the page – even if they’re not together. This saves a lot of time from flipping back and forth. While the presentation is unique and innovative, the information is the real treasure in this book. Kate presents a lot of useful information in a fun and informative way through diagrams and photos to help you with your knitting.
Encyclopedia of Knitting by Donna Kooler – This book really is an encyclopedia. It includes everything with history, technique, projects, beading, lace, color work and much more. I found it quite interesting learning about the history of knitting and then exploring some other facets of knitting including beaded knitting. The 150 stitch patterns and 22 projects provide some inspiration and aspiration for the beginner knitter as well.
The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques by Margaret Radcliffe – In knitting you usually go with either color or texture. If you choose to go with color, you should make sure you bring Margaret along. Her book shows you a sampling of her years of experience and goes from the basics of color, to more complex things like fixing that dreaded color jog when knitting in the round. She takes you through knitting with steeks and makes cutting your work painless. There’s a very good section on fixing mistakes, which is no easy feat when you’re also dealing with different color. Without a doubt, this is the best book I know of when it comes to color work an knitting.
The great thing about all the book I’ve listed here, is you don’t have to go out and buy them right away. I’m sure you’re going to want to (and I highly recommend them), but you can try them before you buy them. All of the above books can be found in your public library. I heard an amazing statistic – only 5% of people have a library card! I’m not entirely certain I believe that, but if its true, I think that knitters probably make up a very large portion of that 5%. So if you do have a card, meander down to your local library and have a look at any of these titles. I’m very certain you’ll be adding them to your library shortly afterward!