08 Jul 2016

My Top 10 Knitting Books


You may have noticed that there are no knitting books in my “top ten” list. That’s because knitting books need a list of their own. I bought my first knitting book in 1999, when I decided I wanted to knit sweaters for myself. I made a rule: I would have to knit at least three projects from this book before I could buy another book. I did make several sweaters from Knitting the New Classics by Kristin Nicholas before I bought another knitting book. But that was the one and only time that has happened. Since rediscovering knitting as an adult, I have also discovered the amazing variety of knitting books. Not only are there collections of patterns, but there are books of techniques, stitch libraries, and even knitting books full of stories. Those are the books I love best. Here is my list of the ten knitting books that I love most. (I am, perhaps for obvious reasons, omitting books that I’ve written myself and books that are not in English.)

My Top 10 Knitting Books 1

1. Knitting the New Classics by Kristin Nicholas. I don’t think that even today I would need another book of sweater patterns to keep my fingers busy for the rest of my life. I would love to knit every sweater in this book.

2 & 3. Folks Socks by Nancy Bush and Ethnic Socks and Stockings by Priscilla Gibson Roberts. These books introduced me to knitting cuff-down and toe-up socks with traditional techniques around the world and set me on my journey to explore knitting in Lithuania.

4. Homespun Handknit (original edition) by Linda Ligon. This little pattern book is full of accessories made with hand-spun yarn. It is the coziest, comfiest little knitting book I can think of, and I’ve read it cover to cover several times.

5. Gossamer Webs by Galina Khmeleva and Carol R. Noble tells the story of the lace knitters in the Orenburg region of Russia. I used this book as my model for writing Arctic Lace.

6. Knitting Heaven and Earth by Susan Gordon Lydon. This is hands-down my favorite non-pattern book about knitting, and the best writing about knitting I have ever read. Much less well-known than the previous book by the same author, The Knitting Sutra, this book contains much more heart and soul.

7. The Knitting Goddess by Deborah Bergman is a lovely book that turns fairy tales, myths, and folk stories on their heads by introducing knitting to goddesses, fates, and heroines. The pages are gorgeously illustrated, and the projects are meant to give you a chance to muse over the stories and ideas in the book as you knit.

8 & 9. Tudor Roses and Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore. The first because in the second edition, it is a pure work of art. Alice Starmore’s drop-dead gorgeous designs are showcased in artful photography and styled with fabulous costumes and jewelry custom-made for the book. The second because I have alway loved knitting cables and this book gave me a foundation in understanding them so well, I can knit almost any cable pattern directly from a photograph.

10. Creating Original Hand-knitted Lace by Margaret Stove is by far the most creative book about knitting written by a master. I felt like I was sitting in the studio of an old master being apprenticed as I read each page.

11. Knitting Stories by Sylvia Olsen is my newest favorite book, featuring essays about the author’s life living with the Coast Salish people in Vancouver, Canada, and learning about knitting Cowichan sweaters. It’s full of personal insights, historical memories, and modern designs inspired by the only original North American knitting technique.

Like my main list this was was hard to pare down to 10 books. In fact, I had to include 11. I guess that’s like a baker’s dozen.

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8 Responses to My Top 10 Knitting Books
  1. I’m in total agreement with Knitting the New Classics and several others on your list. I’m going to seek out the ones I don’t already have.

  2. Knitting the NEw Classics was one of my first, too. Still on the bookshelf.

  3. Oh MY! Thank you very much! That is awesome. Knitting the New Classics came out when there was only one knitting book published a season. It did well because of that and because there were 65 patterns in it. I was lucky with the timing of it because people didn’t have as many choices as they do now. When I look through it, it is amazing that many of the sweaters have held up so well in style.

    Have you seen the last knitting book I wrote – Color By Kristin. You might like that one too. It is projects of many kinds – mostly accessories. Check it out if you haven’t.

    Thank you so much! Kristin

  4. Comment *For me, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears for this passage alone, on cutting armholes into your ski sweater:
    “Cut on basting, then lie down in a darkened room for fifteen minutes to recover.”

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