Choosing resource books for your knitting library

As an educator I love all books. As an art teacher I love history books, instructional books and reference books. As a knitting teacher I love pattern books, vintage books and stitch books. So when I started knitting about 6 years ago, I needed books. I seem to want to gather books like I want to gather yarn, patterns, needles and all things dealing with knitting. When I began to learn to knit and teach others I found it helpful to recommend books that helped and continue to help me. I am convinced that no single book can hold all the answers to all of my questions. I need an arsenal, so here are my top 5, in priority order, for the beginning knitter.


A to Z of Knitting: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to Advanced Knitter is my first choice. This book is has great photos of real hands engaged in knitting which makes replication easy as you decipher each technique. They use bright colors and contrasting yarns so that you can see how they are manipulating the yarns. The layout is user-friendly and easy to follow. This book covers a wide range of topics from a brief history of knitting to basic stitches and techniques to finishing techniques. A must have for any new knitter.


The Knitter’s Companion Expanded & Updated by Vicki Square is my second choice. Spiral bound and easy to drop into your knitting bag, this small book is jam packed with how-to’s and simple explanations. The color pencil illustrations are vivid and high quality. There are also photos that depict the way the end result should look. There are also tips highlighted in blue-violet text boxes that are helpful. The newer versions come with a DVD and an App so that you can have the entire book on your IPad.


The Knitter’s Handbook Essential Skills & Helpful hints from Knitter’s Magazine is my third choice. This handy little book is also spiral-bound and easily fits into your knitting bag. I love its layout. It provides a quick access listing, and the sections are arranged alphabetically, which I found helpful. illustrations are well done and easy to understand. There are also close-up photos of the end result of the specific technique featured. I like the title page that lists the contents of each section. Then there are empty note pages at the end of each section for your notes. This is truly a “workbook,” and I love it. There is so much information in this small book that it is a must have.


Knitspeak by Andrea Berman Price An A to Z Guide to the Language of Knitting Patterns is my fourth choice. Haven’t you thought that knitting has its own language? As you navigate through patterns from all over the world, wouldn’t be helpful to have a guide to translate along the way? Well, this is that guide. This book also packs a ton of information between the pages. This first section gives an overview of how knitting patterns are organized and how to read them. The second deals with knitting terms in alphabetical order. I like the illustrations and the variety of visual aids included throughout. The appendix deals with many helpful topics, from how to read a yarn label, estimating yarn needs to worksheets for projects, planning and schematics. Love this book.


The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe’s Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face/Answers to Every Problem You’ll Ever Ask is my fifth choice. Now, I take issue with the premise that this book can answer all my questions; no one book will. This book uses a question and answer format where a common question is posed and then answers are worked through and definitions given. This conversational tone is informal and a nice change to merely defining terms. So, for example, under Binding Off you get a basic definition, then When to use it: then How to do it: and then you get a Hint for almost every situation. I like that Radcliffe uses illustrations, charts and diagrams to help us visually see explanations. This is also a knitting bag book, easy to carry along with all your other knitting tools. This book has sentimental value to me. It was the first book my Mom gave to me after she taught me to knit. So I will treasure it always.


Please know that there are thousands of great knitting resource books out there. And, no, you do not need to buy all of them, but I cannot imagine that I would have been able to become the knitter I am today without lots of knitting, pulling out, and research using these books. This is just a starting point, the tip of the iceberg. I have other books that I would recommend for specific topics like finishing or designing, and as I get better at this blog I will continue to share. Let me know if my suggestions help you!

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Knitting Patterns

To buy or not to buy knitting patterns… I have been a knitter now for about 6 years and, in that time, having worked in 2 different knitting shops and having taught many people how to knit , I’ve heard many comments about the purchasing of knitting patterns.  As you all know, you can break the bank gathering all the supplies necessary to knit on a regular basis; many knitters draw the line at spending money on patterns.  Since there are so many readily available, it is easy to get by without purchasing.
Personally I love everything about knitting patterns: the magazines, booklets, books, magazines, individual patterns and downloadable e-patterns and e-books. I credit the educator in me that wants to collect, gather and touch the original designs, but I realize that I may be the exception. You can look through my extensive Ravelry library to see the results.
I have overheard comments that have caused me to raise my eyebrows : “I would never pay for a pattern.” or ” I refuse to buy a knitting book.”  ”Are they crazy! $8 for a single pattern? Over my dead body.”  if you are of this school of thought that is fine. I’d just like to add a few things for you to think about.
It is hard to write knitting patterns. 99% of knitters will never write their own patterns. It can be easy to write them for yourself, but once you try to write so that knitters from all walks of life will understand and follow your directions specifically, there are issues. Think about how frustrating it is when there is a mistake in a pattern or maybe it’s not even a technical mistake but it’s just poorly written. This happens at all levels of pattern writing, but more often with free patterns.  When your goal is to sell a pattern, you are likely to go through many drafts and knit many versions and have others test knit and give you feedback before selling.  All this takes time and energy from multiple people. The dynamics change completely.

I currently have over 25 free downloadable patterns available on Ravelry. They are free mainly because I am a new designer, and I am working the details out as others knit and give feedback. There are also differences between a $1 dishcloth pattern and an $8 argyle cardigan pattern that uses 4 different colors and is written for 6 different sizes. I would happily pay for both because I realistically know that I cannot write all my own patterns, nor do I want to…

And lastly consider this, if no designer is paid for her time and talent, then we will be in a pickle. No new pattern books, no new individual patterns, no new techniques will be available. Haven’t we all lost enough in the world of hand work? How many knitting stores have closed in the last 10 years? Knitting brings such joy into our lives. Support your local knitting shops, favorite designers, small yarn companies, spinners  and dyers,  Yes, we will continue to use free patterns, but when you see a beautiful pattern you love, go ahead and splurge! Buy that pattern. Maybe one day it will be one of mine!