Knitting Ephemera: a compendium of articles, useful and otherwise, for the edification and amusement of the handknitter by Carol J. Sulcoski
Knitters will likely recognize Sulcoski’s name from her many books and articles, hand-dyed yarns, and speaking and teaching engagements. This is one of those cute little books that makes a great gift and can be enjoyed by dipping in here and there to read one or more of the short entries. These entries are provided in no stated order and include a biography of the patron saint of knitting (oops! there isn’t one, but a few possibilities are detailed), knitting-related world records, a list of knitting acronyms, definitions of yarn color effects terms, facts about knitwear through the ages, and many more. This would be a lovely book for a coffee table, waiting room, or other spot where someone is likely to pick it up for a few minutes and enjoy the facts they happen upon.
Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top is one of the classics. Many knitters may not even realize how many patterns they use have been influenced by Walker’s work, but her legacy is far-reaching. Many of the patterns I’ve designed myself were influenced by her work without me even being aware of it, as I developed my skills knitting from top-down patterns that could not have existed without Walker. This book celebrates that legacy and offers 24 patterns, two for each of Walker’s templates. Most are sweaters and two are hats. All of the patterns are written and include a schematic with measurements, and charts are included where needed for intarsia or detail sections. A few special techniques are outlined but for the most part, you’ll want to know how to knit before you start one of these projects.
Looking for a one-stop reference book for knitting? This is it. Bliss brings her legendary expertise and covers pretty much all the things you could think of in an informational knitting book. She includes yarn, needles, the basics of how to knit, understanding the terminology and techniques used in knitting, variations of knitting texture, finishing techniques, knitting design, and entire chapters devoted to color, embellishments, shaping, and knitting in the round. Illustrated throughout with color photographs and hand-drawn diagrams (some of the clearest/easiest-to-parse I’ve seen), this book is beautiful and useful, and is definitely one I’ll be adding to my own personal library.
Making a swatch is often the first step in a knitting project (or it should be, technically, even if many knitters don’t do it regularly). Making a swatch will provide you with an example of your gauge (how many rows and stitches you get per inch) and let you see how the stitch pattern will look in that yarn on that needle size. It can save a huge amount of time and is super useful, even if it’s not as much fun as just diving in to the project you’re excited to make. This book takes the approach of having the beginning knitter practice and learn by making, essentially, a ton of swatches. You start out with garter stitch, then move to stockinette, then start learning decreases and increases, and so forth. There are 50 squares followed by five projects for the starting knitter, all of which are made using square pieces. This is a different approach to learning to knit than I’ve seen before, and I feel like encouraging swatch-making will only benefit the knitter in the long run.
I watched Outlander at the start of the series, but all the violence got to me and I had to give it up. The thing I liked best about it, though, was the costuming, so I was pretty excited to see this book. All those rich layers and textures and colors! The sixteen patterns here are either directly or notionally inspired by the clothing worn in the TV series, and the photos in the book were taken in the outdoors in places similar to the show locales. Some of the projects are more wearable for everyday than others (some feel a little bit costumey for me personally to feel like I could pull them off). Many use chunky yarns and several are exceedingly simple in terms of construction, so they should knit up very quickly. The many cowls, wraps, and arm warmers here will make lovely fall accessories.
If you use stitch dictionaries like I do – for inspiration and ideas while designing knitting patterns – you’ll appreciate the variety of approaches covered here. Stitch patterns are written for knitting flat as well as in the round, so you don’t have to engineer the latter yourself. For those patterns in which it makes a difference, patterns are also written for top-down and bottom-up (so, for example, you’d have bottom-up flat, bottom-up in the round, top-down flat, and top-down in the round, all for the same stitch pattern). This is amazingly handy and will save me a ton of time for sure. The stitch patterns start from the very basic (garter stitch and stockinette stitch) and move on to dozens of others. Basic item patterns are also included, such as basic top-town and bottom-up socks and basic top-down in the round cap and basic bottom-up in the round cap. I’ll definitely be buying this one!
Knits from the Heart of Norway: 30 sweaters, hats, socks, and mittens inspired by the Telemark Region by Irene Haugland
Scandinavian knitting has such a distinctive style and rich history and this book celebrates both. All of the designs are advanced in terms of colorwork (I’m not sure you could do justice to Norwegian knitting otherwise) but you do feel as though any of these items will become family heirlooms, so the effort put in is worth it for the gorgeous results. All designs are pictured in full color photos with close-up shots of specific details, and the photographs are taken out in nature in beautiful settings that only enhance the beauty of the knitwear.
Working with beautiful, colorful yarn is one of the joys of knitting. Even a monochrome project can be gorgeous if the color is pleasing. The introductory sections of this book give background on color theory, various techniques for using colors, and a gallery of swatches illustrating different techniques. The projects then start with a monochrome throw, with the intent that the yarn color used will make a statement when juxtaposed with the furniture (of a different color) it will sit on. The following projects use phasing, stripes, color-based stitch patterns, and other techniques to create a sweater, pillows, mittens, throws, and more. The intense colors used and the quality of the photographs will provide inspiration as well.