A friend of mine has decided to go back to knitting after a long break. That's two lured to the dark side, since I started this blog. Not bad.
She asked me for suggestions on books and patterns and stuff, and I sent them to her, but I got to thinking about knitting books, and decided, heck, I'd list the ones that really influenced me. Maybe someone will find it useful, or even, possibly, amusing. (Plus I slept all weekend and didn't knit much of anything and have nothing else to really blog about.)
So here we go. I'm attempting chronological order, but don't hold me to it.
"The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. This isn't a knitting book, technically, but it introduced me to the concept of learning just for the sake of learning. That you can learn more than what's given to you at school, just because you want to know. That it's okay to study more than one thing, to be curious about EVERYTHING, and it's fun and cool. I first read the book at maybe age eight, so it had a profound affect on me. We could blame many, many things in my life on this book, including knitting.
"Knitting Without Tears" by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I encountered EZ early on, probably before I knit my first sweater (because as I recall, my first sweater was an adaptation of a pattern, and it was probably EZ who gave me the nerve to do that). She made me think I knew what I was doing, probably before I really did. But for such a short book, she manages to hit all the important stuff; gauge, materials, even how to design. The dry humor's great, too. Since then I've read most of her other books, and they're great too, but this is the one that really made me feel like I knew what I was doing.
"The Principles of Knitting" by June Hemmons-Hyatt. I'd been knitting maybe a year when this book was first released in 1988. One flip through and I remember the light dawning; this knitting thing was a lot more complex than I'd thought. There were a million ways to do everything! And none were wrong! I actually went out and bought a copy and still have it. If I ever want a tropical vacation, I'll sell it on eBay. (And the cat's been warned, so don't try breaking into my house, looking for it.)
"Knitting in the Old Way" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (the original, first edition) and "Knitting in the Nordic Tradition" by Vibeke Lind. These were the books that spelled out steeking and traditional construction methods and made me really think it was simple, leading to Dale of Norway sweaters, other scandinavian knitting, and stuff like the brown and red jacket. They have a lot to answer for.
Then for years there was nothing much, except of course Kaffee Fassett and Alice Starmore making me oooh at the color possiblities. (I know I'm committing heresy here, but neither one of them are terribly impressive when it comes to cut and fit. Fassett is downright primitive.) I thought I'd seen everything, by that point. I'd been studying and knitting for going on twenty years.
Then Debbie New published "Unexpected Knitting" and I realized I don't know anything.