Ever since I set my foot on the 3rd floor of the New York Public Library Mid-Manhattan branch, I have read hundreds of knitting (and crochet) books from their collection. Pattern books, technique books, history books, stitch dictionaries. As a beginner 5 years ago, I usually borrowed beginner all over how-to books like Debbie Bliss’ “How to Knit” or Katharina Buss’ “Big Book of Knitting” (I finally bought the latter) and pattern books.
After a while, I prefer to read mostly knitting techniques books and stitch dictionaries, than pattern books. Why? Because technical books teach me to understand the principles of knitting, how it works, and gave me confidence to free myself from patterns and design my own. Such books are Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book, Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook, Threads’ knitting articles compilations, and of course Elizabeth Zimmermann’s and Barbara Walker’s. They are my prized possesions.
Since I read Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book 4 years ago, I rarely knit others’ patterns. I still read pattern books and magazines, but only for inspirations. I grew fond of lace, stranded, and sock knitting. I grew fond of Shirley Paden’s meticulously designed knitwears, Annie Modesitt’s designs’ structure which usually celebrate women’s curves, and Cookie A’s sock knitting philosophy.
Books on knitting history and traditions fascinate me, too. Nancy Bush, Melanie Fallick, and Donna Druchunas’ books gave that to me.
In my eyes, those books stand out among thousands and thousands of knitting books, and will remain so, because they’re talking principles and visions, surpassing trends, and give knitters confidence to believe in themselves and follow their own way. It’s like giving a person a fishing rod and skills, instead of the fish itself.
And now I want JC Briar’s book Charts Made Simple: understanding knitting charts visually. I would love to read a book which came from a self declared ‘technical (knitting) junkie’ :).