ISO knitting books
December 12, 2016 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I am in search of general knitting books

I am looking for general intermediate- or advanced-level knitting books. For an idea of my current knowledge & skill level: I taught myself from Stitch-n-bitch and online videos and have been knitting for a couple of years now. I've never used DPNs but am comfortable with magic loop on circulars. I've made scarves, shawls, somewhat complicated lace-like baby blankets, and hats. I kind of understand charts but tend to work from written patterns, and I've done a bit of improvising but not much. I'm about to tackle mittens for the first time. I haven't yet done socks, sweaters, or color work beyond stripes in blankets or scarves. I do have a friendly LYS that will help when I need some in-person hand holding.

I am not looking for pattern books (especially if the patterns call for a specific brand of yarn, though I understand that one can substitute) and am not particularly looking for stitch dictionaries. Rather I am looking for more general purpose reference books or books with general info and guidelines for specific techniques or type of item - "this books is great to learn sweaters" is fine. It is also fine if they are more advanced than I am now, though it would be great if you could mention that in your comment. It's easy to go down a rabbit hole of "people who liked this book..." references on Amazon so I thought I would ask for suggestions here as well.

I am already on Ravely and use it extensively. Web pages are also welcome, but really I'm looking for books.

posted by 2 cats in the yard to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I taught myself a lot of advanced beginner techniques (including knitting on DPNs) using Purl's tutorials page. There are of course lots of other online resources too, but their tutorials are written in a way that my brain can grasp pretty easily.
posted by cakelite at 1:30 PM on December 12, 2016

Best answer: I've been knitting for ~15 years and I still use The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques regularly. Great for doing an unfamiliar cast-on or bind-off, and really helped me understand seaming much better!

Maggie Righetti's and Elizabeth Zimmerman's books are also great but can be a bit polarizing (especially Zimmerman) so take a look at them before you buy, in case they are not your cup of tea.
posted by mskyle at 1:37 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you like Debbie Stoller's style, her Superstar Knitting is great. But my favorite for stepping your techniques up a notch is Beyond Knit and Purl. (Everything Cooperative Press publishes is amazing, by the way.)
posted by rikschell at 1:46 PM on December 12, 2016

I like Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits (the first one). It is especially good if you like seamless techniques and if you like to modify patterns you get elsewhere or make your own patterns. I used this book to learn how to knit top-down, seamless set-in sleeves, and have been able to refer to it when I want to modify a seamed pattern into a seamless one. She also has very clear descriptions of various useful techniques like short rows and kitchener stitch/grafting, as well as a good discussion of fit, shaping, ease, and how to change necklines etc. to make things more flattering for you.

I also love Elizabeth Zimmerman's and Maggie Righetti's books, but yes, I can see how they might be polarizing. I checked mine out of the library.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:49 PM on December 12, 2016

Best answer: The book I have for reference (that I checked out from the library many times and finally bought myself a hard copy) is Cast On, Bind Off. It's not really a stitch dictionary or a pattern book, but I used the same cast on for 20 years of knitting before I found this, and it has been a game changer.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 1:50 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Kate Atherley's Custom Socks to Fit Your Feet is an excellent workbook to understand sock construction. Half the book breaks down the anatomy of a sock, and the other half gives over a dozen patterns to practice the techniques. Read it carefully and do all the measurements and lessons and your socks will fit like they never have before.
posted by Liesl at 1:56 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Looking at my library on Ravelry, I have a lot of sock books for someone who never knits socks (turns out I don't like wearing hand-knitted socks.)

For avoiding second sock syndrome (making the first one but not the second), a great book is Knitting Circles around Socks: Knit Two at a Time on Circular Needles. I used this technique to make both socks and some really cool arm warmers, and making both of a pair at the same really works for me. You could use this technique for mittens as well.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:16 PM on December 12, 2016

A lot of people like Elizabeth Zimmerman's book--I think it's this one. I never used it but my understanding is it helps you learn to knit things like sweaters by figuring out the measurements you want rather than having to just choose a pattern and hope the proportions are right. (Zimmerman invented the i-cord, which, no matter how many times I knit one, I don't get why they work!)
posted by Smearcase at 3:40 PM on December 12, 2016

Best answer: I've been knitting since around 2000, and the books I turn to the most often are Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules, the Cast On, Bind Off book Ms. Vegetable mentioned above, and Clara Parkes' Knitter's Book of Socks (because I knit a lot of socks). The Kate Atherley Custom Socks book is also great.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:45 PM on December 12, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions so far! What about the big encyclopedic books like Vogue Knitting or Principles of Knitting? There seem to be several of these. Are they useful, or just too much all at once, or too theoretical (vs practical)? If they are useful which one(s) do you like?
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:59 PM on December 12, 2016

Best answer: I highly recommend Knit Fix: Problem Solving for Knitters. I have used that book to fix mistakes made by every knitter I know, including myself, with a minimum of ripping.
posted by xyzzy at 4:00 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are already lots of great recommendations here. I would recommend the Principles of Knitting if you're interested in understanding why/how knitting works – I don't think it's a cover-to-cover read, but it's really interesting to dip in and out of.

I'd add Clara Parkes's books (including The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool ) – they're great if you're looking to improve your understanding of different types of fibre and why they do what they do when you knit with them. Ann Budd has several good collections of all-purpose patterns that you can use as introductory patterns and then as the basis for your own designs.

If you like colourwork (and a challenge), I'd recommend Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting – maybe a bit advanced, but inspiring, and good hints on working with charts.
posted by notquitejane at 4:49 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

If I were only allowed one knitting book, it would be Hiatt's Principles of Knitting. It's like a dictionary of knitting - everything is in there. It's not a friendly little book that will give you chatty advice like "this is the best kind of increase".... it'll tell you "here are 10 different kinds of increases and some of the reasons you might choose one in certain circumstances". It's the sort of book that eventually makes you a better knitter. It's a technical tour de force, and if reference books are your thing, this'll really float your boat.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2016

I'll second Principles of Knitting. I own it, and it's wonderful.

I also recommend Circular Knitting Workshop by Radcliffe, which is all about the principles behind circular knitting and how to convert a flat pattern into a circular one.

The Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is about designing your own fair isle patterns.

I also want to recommend an excellent book presenting all sorts of recipes for traditional sweaters, but the title escapes me at the moment and google isn't helping. I'll look it up tonight if no one has recognised it by then.
posted by snakeling at 3:43 AM on December 13, 2016

I'm extremely visual, so I've found internet articles with photos and videos to be my mainstay, well over books. I really prefer books for patterns, actually, rather than techniques. I taught myself to knit back in the day with Stitch and Bitch and the Knitting Help website.

So I have, for instance, the Zimmerman and Righetti books, but I never use them, because the internet is faster and better illustrated. In fact, I think I sold the Zimmerman.

The exception, for me, is Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook. It doesn't have a bunch of excessive verbiage to read and every page has multiple illustrations.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:28 AM on December 13, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you all for the great suggestions! I ended up ordering several of these (I marked those as "best answer" though all were helpful) though I saved Principles of Knitting for a later treat.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2016

If you haven't already, you might ask this in the latest open thread at Making Light. There are a bunch of knitters and other fiber crafters there, and they are very welcoming.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:56 PM on December 15, 2016

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