The Ultimate Knitter’s Guide by Kate Buller is actually a decent sweater (flat knitting) reference book once you get past the patterns and the split page design. Split page design? Yes, I’ve never seen a book like this. The bottom 1/4 of all the pages make up the reference section while the top 3/4 are patterns. The book lies flat so you can open it to the appropriate reference section while working on one of the patterns in the book. It’s a great concept except I only like a few of the patterns.
I wish the reference section were a small independent book because it is the best and most useful part of the book. It shows very clear step by step photographs of all the basic knitting techniques which is exactly what a book taught knitter needs. The descriptions accompanying the photos are quite detailed. For example, she accurately describes the best way to do short rows including how to pick up the wrap on the purl side. Many reference books don’t bother with such detail. I thrive on details.
I also like the format of Buller’s other book Style Your Own Kids’ Knits. She lays out basic designs in various sizes and styles, and lets the reader mix and match the details. A stitch library is included at the back of the book which shows various intarsia motifs, edgings and lace patterns.
I didn’t get much time to knit during the Thanksgiving holiday but did manage a trip to The Weaving Works to pick up the winter issue of Spin-Off magazine. While there, I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of the new edition of Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson. I wasn’t expecting to see a copy of this book for a couple of months. Amazon shows a February 2004 release date.
This afternoon I flipped through the book and briefly skimmed through each section. On first glance, it looks like a good reference for knitting a variety of traditional sweaters. The first half is filled with the obligatory chapters on yarn, equipment, methods and techniques and then launches into a discussion of various sweater shapes based on the percentage system. The last half of the book classifies traditional sweaters by technique; color stranding, intarsia, texture geometric patterning and crochet-enhanced knits, with each technique demonstrated via traditional sweaters from several countries.
I have one initial criticism about this book. Where are the photographs? All the sweaters and techniques are illustrated with line drawings by the author. While line drawings are fine for showing techniques, the sweaters would be more inspiring if shown on models in photographs.
I frequently “try out” books from an excellent regional library before I decide to buy. You name the knitting book, and nine times out of ten, they have a copy of it.
I recently checked out Color In Spinning by Deb Menz. I can’t believe this book is out of print. Amazon has a waiting list of twelve people. I haven’t checked e-bay but I’m sure it probably fetches high bids. It is a great resource on color theory for yarn and includes extensive information about dyeing, carding and combing.
The Big Book of Knitting was the first knitting reference book that I purchased after I decided to take up knitting again. I was originally attracted to this book when I was learning how to make socks. It has some of the best photo instructions (on socks and other techniques) that I have found. Most of the written instructions are ok, but sometimes I find that the translation from German isn’t always clear. It seems to be one of the few books that shows a lot of advanced techniques, which I believe, are quite common in Europe.
I recently picked up The Knitters book of Finishing Techniques. While it mostly shows just the standard lists of techniques, it does have excellent photos and descriptions. As I’ve mentioned before, I like how it describes the three-needle bind off with short rows. I also refer to it when doing a K1P2 grafted bind off.
I wonder if a new version of “The Principles of Knitting” will come out anytime soon. This is another book that shouldn’t be out of print. I checked out a copy from the library and was amazed. An updated version of this book would definitely beat all the rest. Amazon has plenty of copies for sell with the lowest price being around $200. I might pay that for a newly revised edition, but for now I’ll just continue checking it out of the library.
I have some mixed feelings about Latvian Dreams by Joyce Williams. The list of techniques is excellent but the tiny digital photos are awful. It’s obvious that they put all their effort into the charts, patterns and photos of the sweaters. The back of the book has slew of charted latvian designs that would inspire anyone.