Knitting Instruction & Reference Books

For the benefit of new knitters, I thought it would be useful to have a place here which lists those knitting books which we have found to be the most helpful to us.  I am confident this information would be very beneficial to those guys who visit our site and who are just learning, thinking about learning or returning to knitting.  There is an overwhelming number of knitting books available on today's market and a person could get lost in all of them.  I'd like to list under two catagories: The best instruction book and the best knitting reference book.

My favourite instruction book is "Knitting in Plain English" by Maggie Righetti.  Until I found this book, I was unable to figure out how to knit.  She is witty and explains things in an easy to comprehend fashion.  And, once I had done the "Dumb Baby Sweater" I found I had the confidence to jump right into knitting an adult jersey.

My favourite reference book is "Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book".  If I ever learn even 1/10th of its contents before I die, I'll consider myself lucky.  I have a copy of it's smaller workbag sized edition which I find easier to have at hand.

Of course, I have some other reference books that I use occasionally such as "Knitting Without Tears" by Elizabeth Zimmermann and "The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques" by Nancie Wiseman.  But, the two I've listed above are my stranded-on-a-deserted-island books.

Lee Griffiths's picture

My favorite reference book is The Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook.  It was recommended to me by two knitting teachers at Stitches last year, and is both comprehensive and clear.  I would never have picked up a book by the Reader's Digest without recommendation, but this book really exceeded my expectations, showing me how wrong I was!

Books that I have found essential to designing knitted garments:

the knitter's handy book of sweater patterns by Ann Budd. Gives useful designs for six styles of sweater, in various gauges and sizes from child to large male.

Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti. Helpful for understanding why a sweater is appropriate for a particular figure and how to achieve excellent designs with simple techniques.

Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. Covers how to knit socks in the European style and shows some of the excellent variations on the basic sock. Covers several styles of turned heel and where each may be appropriate.

Ethnic Socks and Stockings by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. Explains Eastern sock knitting with set-in heels. The rich colors and patterns alone make the book worth acquiring. The design techniques section is sure to stimulate the mind and help create unique ideas.

Simple Socks Plain and Fancy by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. Argues for a simpler method of knitting socks. Clear directions given for short-row toes and heels. Excellent section on measuring feet for socks and converting measurements from metrics into stitches.

And, if you ever wanted to do Fair Isle, try to find a copy of Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting. Has sections on Fair Isle patterns, Fair Isle designs, history of knitting in the North Sea, how to do guernseys, jerseys, etc. Be warned, though. A paperback edition, originally sold for US $19.95, was offered for US $200.00 on eBay recently.

Have fun, 


JPaul's picture

Here are a few of my favorites:

Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton: great insight into the designing process (hers, anyway).

Pretty much anything by Kaffe Fassett (Kaffe's Classics, for example): beautiful sweaters to look at and inspirational design.  Truly a classic.

The Knitting Architect or The Advanced Knitting Architect by Sion Elalouf: like so many great knitting books, these are both out of print.  BUT, the publisher, Knitting Fever has posted Knitting Architect on line!  For free!!  These are great technical books for designing sweaters or for learning how to chart knitting patterns.  No frills, but a great tool.

Gave The Knitting Architect a quick look. Great information, clearly written. Excellent reference for designing sweaters.

Have fun,