Friday, February 27, 2009

Books: for brand-new or nervous knitters

I love knitting. I love knitting books almost as much! I love to read about techniques, ogle the gorgeous fair isle or aran sweaters, read about how others do what they do when they ply two sticks and a string. I love to read ... and knit ...

Another thing I love is recommending knitting books. Many people ask me for advice on this book or that ... or I give them my critique even if they don't ask! I take pride in sifting through the knitting twaddle that's out on the market (and there is quite a bit!) and only recommending the ones that I own (or really WANT to own) in my personal knitting library (which, needs must, be kept small so dh doesn't go over the top).

As I said, I love recommending the good knitting books. For instance, here's a blog post on a fairly exhaustive bibliography I put together back in 2007; then there was the post about discovering two books with my designs in them; a post about MY book; recommended books on sock knitting; a post about some recent "finds"; and my most recent post on books for those who wanted to go beyond garter stitch.

But today, I found a book that will help all the beginners and nervous knitters out there. This is one that I am so impressed with and can't believe it was published 4 or more years ago and I'm just seeing it now. This will be my new "go to" suggestion when folks ask about starting out or wanting to go a bit ahead.

First Knits: Projects for Beginning Knitters by Luise Roberts and Kate Haxell is a perfect book for those who have never knitted ... but want to try ... as well as for those who have started knitting but don't understand some of the technical terms or want cool but easy projects, etc.

This book will guide you slowly, step by step, through your first garter stitch projects including how to measure a swatch, "get gauge" and other techniques. Then you'll move on to purling, ribbing, cabling, shaping, colorwork, button-holes, and more! The illustrations and text are very understandable and detailed.

The projects you'll make include garter stitch booties, garter stitch hat with flaps, cushion cover, backpack, heart cushion, adorable stuffed rabbit, knitting a true, in the round cap, cable handbag, lacy shawl, jacket socks, striped throw and a baby jacket. And these things are not only really cute, they're useful and fun and span old and young alike.

Although this book is a paperback, the cover is made of heavier-than-usual stock with overleaves that include basic abbreviations, tips and other information for quick reference.

This is definitely a book to add to your wish-list if you want to knit ... or want to knit better ... or want to teach someone else! Really excellent!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Books: when you're ready to go beyond ...

... a garter stitch scarf.

Here are some books that are currently out in the book stores that are really great for learning about knitting and going beyond garter stitch.

1. Melissa Leapman's new book, Knitting Beyond Scarves has wonderful illustrations and directions for increasing, decreasing, purling, reading directions, etc. Her projects are a bit "young" but I really liked a few of them and thought they'd be fun for new knitters to try. She's got a style that is very attractive but easy to follow.

2. Knitting School: A Complete Course is also excellent and should carry you pretty far in learning all the ins and outs. This book covers lots of things that many of the other how-tos don't. I like this as a reference-shelf book that you'd look into when you're stuck or don't understand a particular instruction.

3. Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti is a chatty, really well-done book about how to knit, follow directions and make things. This is great if you want a gentle approach. It's a classic that doesn't have the glossy, fancy pictures but definitely covers ALL the basics. A fun book to read (ok, if you're a knitting-geek, that is!).

4. Debbie Bliss' How to Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course includes some great projects. She walks you through the process quite nicely. This is the one my teenaged daughter uses alot when she has a question about how to do something or for a simple project. She covers doing things like cable patterns and color-work ... but starts the reader out with baby-steps to earn confidence.

Those should help anyone trying to go a bit further with their knitting. There's so many knitting books on the market now that it can be hard to find those truly worth buying and keeping. Please post in the comments section if you have any other books that are "must haves".