Sunday, November 12, 2006

Suggested reading.

Everyone enjoyed the book reviews, and I got some questions about what I would recommend for things, and then Annie made some crazy statement that those books were for good knitters... Good knitters get good by reading everything, as well as practice! So, anyway, I thought I'd suggest some books.

For beginners and other types who've never read much about knitting:

"Knitting Rules!" by the Yarn Harlot, also known as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I've got a copy, and read through it thinking 'damn, I wish I'd had this book when I first learned to knit'. Mostly it contains basic stuff, but you never know when you're going to need basic stuff - I recently used her generic sock pattern with commentary to decode what I was doing with the stripey socks. (They didn't fit, but that wasn't her fault.) She's also got cool stuff like how to identify what fiber yarn is spun from, and of course the whole thing is entertaining as all get-out to read.

"Meg Swanen's Knitting". This one contains a lot of finishing detail. Applied I-cord, different button-holes, grafting, crocheted steeks, you name it. In terms of technique, I'd say the Schoolhouse Press group, led by Meg Swansen, is putting out some of the most original stuff available. The sweaters are reallly nice too, and encourage you to think and do your own math, not just brainlessly follow a pattern. (Must. Knit. Russian. Prime.)

For when you're on the fine line between following patterns and designing your own:

"Designing Knitwear" by Deborah Newton. This contains a lot of useful stuff about how sweaters are constructed and how certain things should look (cap sleeves, lapels, etc), so even if you never design your own knitwear, it's still darn useful. If you DO design your own knitwear, it's invaluable.

"The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" by Ann Budd. She deserves a medal for this. Generic patterns for every size everything; in different gauges. Buy this book and you'll never need another pattern book. Contains sweaters, cardigans, hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, and socks. Wonder how big a men's triple-extra-large really is? Buy this and you can look it up.

In the 'Inspiration' category:

"Unexpected Knitting" by Debbie New. This woman does things with knitting that you never imagined. Even if you never try any of it (you should), it still makes you want to run out and cast on something, anything. (Must. Knit. Teacups.)

"Mason*Dixon Knitting" by Kay Gardner and Ann Shayne. There are some really nice patterns in here, but most of all, this book will make you laugh - a lot - and walk away grinning, saying "yeah, I love knitting too".

I'm sure I'll come up with more tomorrow, but there you go, some books for the Christmas list.


Bells said...

You're not helping Julie. I'm now adding more and more books to the Amazon order I'm about to put in. My husband is going to say it's all your fault. he he

Sheepish Annie said...

Someone call Dr. Phil...I have knitting self-esteem issues!!!

Since your earlier book post, I have been revisiting my belief that I only am worthy of Leisure Arts booklets and have been perusing more serious tomes. Honest!! ;)

Anonymous said...

may i suggest elizabeth zimmerman's "knitting without tears" for "almost-beginners"?

if knitting has "saints," ez is right up there on the list, because she explained things so well. i've made quite a few of her "seamless" yoke sweaters. (you do graft the armpits, but there are no long seams to stitch and nothing to bind you -- very comfortable sweaters.)

my latest was in a "terry" yarn (baby teri) for my granddaughter, who's very slender and wanted a pullover with a hood. no, ez doesn't say how to make a hood, but she gives you the confidence to "engineer" things.

wanna make a hood? here's what worked for me:

knit the neckband on a circular needle in k1,p1 ribbing. bind off a few stitches at center front (i bound off 8 for a small sweater in a dk-weight yarn, but you'd adjust this for the yarn and the size sweater you're making.)

now, just keep knitting on the remaining stitches, back and forth on two circular needles, continuing in k1,p1 ribbing, and slipping the first stitch on each row. knit until the sides of the hood piece are long enough to meet in the middle of the wearer's head. (another advantage of the ez yoke sweater -- it can be tried on before it's completed.) knit another inch or so if the wearer wants a little more "give" in the hood.

now, preferably with kitchener stitch, sew the top of the hood together on the "wrong" side. because most people's heads are bigger around than their necks, the edge of the hood will be somewhere back around the ears. so you need a border.

with one of your circular needles, pick up those stitches you slipped along the edge. using both circular needles, knit a border in k1,p1. the width will depend on the size of the sweater and the wearer's preference. (if after a few rows this looks like too few stitches, frog the border and pick up more than just the slipped stitches. i've made this only with a "fluffy" yarn with considerable "give," so your mileage may vary.

because i was making this for a child, i didn't use a drawstring, but i don't think one would be necessary even for an adult. the ribbed border holds the hood nicely. if you wish, you probably can stitch the border to the area where you bound off in front, but i didn't and it works just fine.

Amy Lane said...

Leisure Arts is trying to improve their image--have you noticed? Anyway, "A Gathering of Lace" is also a nice start....