Monday, July 17, 2006

Books that warped me.

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.


debsnm said...

I've never read a "knitting book" - tons and tons of patterns and articles in magazines, but never, ever a knitting book - Unless "Zen and the Art of Knitting" is considered a knitting book. Im going to read "The Knitting Way" when I can afford the book, but for now, that's it.
I think you're majorly brave to design your own knits. I use patterns as adaptive "jumping off places" - I don't think I've knit an entire anything as written more than 3 or 4 times - but to take a ball of yarn, some pointy sticks and think "I'll make something" gives me heart palpitations - you rock!

Sheepish Annie said...

It's only after years of knitting that I am starting to realize that I need more in the way of "instruction." I value my creativity, but it often gets in the way of doing things right! Hence, I am now buying all the books that I should have purchased back when I was just a wee little lambie!!! Thanks for the reading list. How are you feeling these days???

TrishJ said...

I'm assuming that reading list is for me. I still need lessons on understanding gauge, dude. And how to convert one kind of yarn to a pattern. And...oh...more. Lots more. :::sigh:::

sienna said...

I first read about Unexpected Knitting on your blog. I found it online and ordered it right away. I need to thank you for that. I love that you're a math geek like me...most of the girls I knit with abhor math (!) I think I'll try the Phantom Tollbooth next.