There are a thousand good reasons to have a small library of knitting books. They’ll teach you a ton, and you’ll always have resources on hand to quickly answer your questions. The internet is full of information, both good and bad, but in order to find it, you need to know what exactly to look for, the terms to use in your search, and how to evaluate the quality of the advice. Having a good selection of books on hand can speed things up.
1. A Reference Book
Reference books are dull and dry, but they’re also invaluable. My favorite knitting reference book was recommended to me by my aunt Lisa when I was a new knitter, and it’s The Knitter’s Handbook by Montse Stanley. It’s full of different ways to cast on, bind off, increase, decrease, and every other technique you can imagine. That’s what a good knitting reference book will give you– a lot of techniques and a lot of different ways to do them. Now, this particular book doesn’t always have the best instructions on how to work those techniques, but it gives enough information that you can decide which ones are worth trying, and then you know what terms to search to find a tutorial online if you can’t figure it out. The important thing is to have a resource that will expand your knowledge of knitting techniques so when a pattern says, “Bind off using a stretchy method,” you’ll be able to flip open your book to the bind off section and find 2-3 options to choose from in the stretchy category. I’d say about 75% of the pattern support questions I get could be answered in under 10 minutes if the person who asked had opened up a reference book instead of writing an email to me.
2. A Book on Construction
Whatever your favorite object is to make, you should have a book on its construction. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a sweater knitter, but the advice holds true if you’re a sock knitter or a toy knitter. You should have a book on the basics of construction for your favorite kind of project. My go-to book on sweater construction is Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you might have heard me complain about this book before. We have a love/hate relationship. This book is full of great information, and it’s the most well-rounded book on sweater construction I’ve ever seen. It covers pretty much everything you can think of, including short-row set-in sleeves. Even if you have no interest in creating a sweater from scratch, a book on sweater construction can help you better understand why you’re doing certain things while following a pattern, and that will allow you to make better modifications. That said, the author of Sweater Design in Plain English has an attitude about women’s bodies that makes me want to throw the book across the room. There’s a lot about hiding your flaws and disguising your body, and she gives some terrible style-related fit and fashion advice. If you’re confident in your personal opinions about fit and style so you can easily ignore the author’s and don’t have a hard time with body-image issues, this book is a great one to have in your library. If that’s not the case, I’d suggest developing a small collection of sweater construction books that were written more recently to cover a variety of different construction options without all the negativity.
3. A Book on Yarn
Yarn choice can make or break a project, so it’s in your best interest to learn as much as possible about it. The expensive and time consuming way to learn a lot about yarn and fibers is to buy a ton of yarn and knit a million swatches, but it’s much more cost effective to just grab a good book. The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes is my favorite yarn book. It goes into good detail about different fibers and their properties as well as yarn construction and how those things all work together to give yarns their unique characteristics. Simply understanding yarn better will improve the quality of your projects more than you might imagine if you don’t know much about yarn yet. Experience with different yarns is important, and there are always oddball yarns that behave totally contrary, but the knowledge you can get from a book will help you avoid some costly mistakes in the process of gaining experience. This book is probably the resource I recommend the most because a yarn book is usually the one that gets forgotten by knitters who are building their library. So much attention goes to construction and technique, but yarn is just as important!