Now that we’ve got a little more space, my knitting books and patterns have a space all of their own. While the paper patterns need some love (they’re currently just shoved haphazardly into a binder), I love seeing my books organized and accessible. Which got me thinking about my favourite knitting books. Not all books are created equal, there are some I regret buying, and others whose cracked spines bear witness to how much I love them (and how useful they are). So here’s a round-up of my favourite titles (so far!)
Favourite classic: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac. There is a reason that Zimmerman’s name is synonymous with knitting for many people. This book is full of fantastic patterns (mitered mittens and baby sweater on two needles are two of my all time favourite patterns!). But what seperated the Almanac from her other titles is that it’s a great read on its own. Zimmerman shares her thoughts and life as a knitter. Her directions are by her own admission “pithy,” but for me that just highlights the history of knitting as something shared (often orally) through families and amongst a community. A must read for any enthusiastic knitters.
Toe-Up was one of the first books I bought. It is a fantastic beginners book – she explains every necessary technique clearly and concisely, and there are enough variations to keep any knitter busy for years. I still return to this book when I want something to knit in the car or while travelling (the type of project you can knit without consulting the pattern very frequently.) I have knit nine of the 23 patterns in this book, several of them many times, and I keep coming back.
When I started to outgrow Toe-Up, I began looking around for a more challenging toe-up book, since by that point I was convinced that toe-up was the only way to do it. When the owner of my LYS suggested knit.sock.love, I was skeptical, since all the patterns are cuffdown. However, one look at this beautiful book changed my mind. Gorgeous enough to be a coffee table book, knit.sock.love is a book that inspires ardent admiration. There are regular knit-alongs for this book on ravelry, and a surprising number of people have conquered all 19 patterns, including the cabled knee highs (there are 2!) and intricate diagonals. I see knitting through this book in the way that many view reading all of War & Peace (which I have done!) or running the Boston Marathon (which my knees will never agree to!). It’s a big project requiring patience, perserverance and time (hopefully one day I’ll have enough of all three). I have made my way through Hedera, Wedge, Monkey, and Mona, and they are so beautiful; it’s no surprise that so many people love this book.
Favourite beginner book: Betty Christiansen’s Knitting for Peace. This was actually my first knitting book, and it’s one I highly reccommend for beginners ready to branch out from their first hats, scarves and mitts. The book contains great, simple projects for blankets, shawls, hats, toys, sweaters and socks. The basic patterns don’t require special or expensive yarn to look good, so it’s also great if you’re still at the stage where you’re reluctant to drop significant money on yarn, or your hometown doesn’t offer more than the selection at Michael’s and Wal-Mart. It’s full of information on how to use your knitting to make the world a better place. Inspirational, simple, useful.
Favourite imaginary book: Thea Coleman’s Baby Cocktails. Ok, this one doesn’t exist (yet?), but it should, my ravelry queue is filled with her patterns, and Vodka Lemonade is on my needles now. Her directions are clear, concise and accurate. Each design shows a clear attention to how they will fit on a woman’s body, and each pattern has a wider variety of sizes than you are likely to find at the mall (I’m guessing sizes 0-20). I love that her patterns are simple and plain enough to be wearable and fashionable. Each one has simple embellishments or details that make it special and different, without making it fussy or dowdy. Somebody in publishing please offer this woman a book deal!
I’d love to know what books you think are missing from my shelf – What are your must-own pattern books?