Top 5 Must-Have DIY Knitting Tomes

No Sheep For YouWho’s ready for some purling!? Knitting may not seem as exciting as football, but for some of us it is our lifeblood. Making something out of (what seems like) nothing is what all of us crafty folks crave, and for millions of men and women worldwide, that craving can only be satiated with some yarn and needles.

Continuing my aging “Top 5 Must-Have Tomes” series, I’ve finally put together my list of knitting books that will make any bookshelf feel complete. Mind you, this was no easy task as alone sells over 1,500 books on the subject, but it was more than worth it to bring this list to you, my avid readers.

Next in my Top 5 series, I’ll be bringing you the top crochet books available in print. Until then, enjoy this much-researched list on the wonderful world of knitting. Feel like something is missing? Leave a comment with your favorite knitting book and why you’ve referenced it so many times that the pages are falling out.

When it comes to knitting, wool yarn is king. I find it far too itchy to wear and was very disappointed when I knitted my first scarf from organic wool and couldn’t even wear it. There are others who, unlike a simple disinterest in the fiber, are actually allergic to wool – that is where No Sheep for You: Knit Happy with Cotton, Silk, Linen, Hemp, Bamboo & Other Delights [cover shown above] comes in to our list. Written by Canadian Amy R. Singer, this book is for anyone and everyone who enjoys knitting, whether you use wool or not. Along with her own unique patterns, No Sheep for You offers an extensive outline of non-wool fibers, how they behave, and how to substitute them into your favorite projects. The fibers she covers include cotton, linen, hemp, soy, bamboo, tencel, rayon, the new synthetics and more, plus “the most delicious non-wool of all: silk.”

Stitch n BitchYou can’t have a list of knitting books without Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook – the tome that single handedly helped to ushered in the modern age of fiber fanatics. My mother gave me this book, along with some gorgeous marbled yarn and bamboo needles, as a Christmas gift 3 years ago to help me finally take the first step to learning how to knit. Written by Bust Magazine‘s Editor-In-Chief Debbie Stoller, Stitch ‘N Bitch is full of funky and useful patterns. Most important, the book also features all of the basic (and some of the intermediate) knitting techniques you need to know to start your life-long love of fiber.

When Bad Things Happens to Good KnittersThe more loops and knots you make, the more likely you are to make a mistake (especially during those late night knitting/gossip sessions). I’m personally more likely to be a bit tough on myself when I make crafty errors, so having When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters: An Emergency Survival Guide in my bag is a godsend and a blood pressure saver. Loose strings, dropped stitches, odd neck holes, messed up patterns – all these issues and more are covered in this volume, including helpful visuals and a variety of fixes. Written by KnittingtogetherNYC business partners Marion Edmonds and Ahza Moore, When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters is the culmination of their over 120 combined years of knitting experience – these two are truly your fairy godmothers of fiber, whether your a novice, pro, or anything in between.

Knitting NatureAfter you have the basics down and are ready to fix any fiber flubs that come along during your needle clicking, it’s time to move on to some seriously beautiful and intricate projects. Written by Vogue Knitting Magazine‘s Master Knitters of the 1990s, Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature is the perfect eco-focused for taking your yarn admiration to the next level. Combining her college degree knowledge of biology and art, Norah Gaughan features nearly 40 utterly individual designs inspired directly by nature, with each ecological element described in-detail. Whether expressing the fractal of a fern leaf or the pentagon of a sand dollar, any project you make from this book will take beautiful to a new level and express your passion for the planet in one fell swoop (or shawl, as it may be).

Knitter’s Lib“Learn as you go” is the most common element in all levels of knitting. Once you garner a host of experience following patterns, it is time to toss them aside and follow your instincts. “Eliminating the mystery of every project’s curve and seam, teaching knitters and crocheters of all abilities how to personalize patterns and create stylish, from-scratch designs with confidence and success” – that’s what Lena Maikon’s Knitter’s Lib: Learn to Knit, Crochet, And Free Yourself from Pattern Dependency is all about. It may seem ironic that a book on learning to free yourself from following patterns features 20 patterns itself, but you have to start from somewhere, right? Customizing Lena’s all-season his and her projects is as easy as pie … wait, no, even easier than that … as easy as sugar cookies.

Yarn HarlotBonus! Eventually, you have to put the needles down to, say, sleep or eat. When you find yourself without a project on-hand or need to give your digits and break, pick up Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter by Canada’s Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. According to Stephanie, “Over 50 million people in America knit. The average knitter spends between $500 and $1,700 a year on yarn, patterns, needles, and books. No longer just a fad or a hobby, knitting has advanced to a lifestyle.” She takes it a step beyond and features a selection of her own personal trials and tribulations with the art (and labor) of knitting via some of her earliest blog posts. Alluring and disturbing at the same time, you will feel much better about your own yarn stash and crafty commitments after reading this small book – and I mean that in the best way possible. 🙂

Written by Victoria Everman

I think of myself as a creatively versatile eco-powerhouse. Freelance writer, life-long model, on-camera personality, public speaker, official U.S. spokesperson for Twice Shy Clothing - I'm a classic Renaissance woman and mistress-of-all-trades.

Though my days of growing up in the corn fields of central Indiana are behind me, forgetting where I came from is not an option. I lost my father unexpectedly in March of 2006, months before moving from NYC to San Francisco, which helped to amplify my zest for life and thirst to help change the world.

Perpetually looking for fresh ways to share my unquenchable green knowledge, I blog about everything eco on my own website, as well as for All Green Magazine and select others. Additionally, I am the editor/head writer of Crafting a Green World (part of the Green Options blog network) and a writer/web editor for Building Green TV. My diverse articles have been published in variety of reputable magazines, such as: Yoga Journal, Venus, CRAFT, Yogi Times, Recovery Solutions, M+F, and Office Solutions.

In my spare time, you can find me knitting, reading, singing, taking pictures, practicing yoga, taking long walks, and working on my first non-fiction book. Other random facts about me: I'm a Buddhist, latex fan, have four tattoos, and an attempting locavore.



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  1. Interesting list!

    At the top of my list are Sally Melville’s books in her Knitting Experience series. The first two, _The Knit Stitch_ and _The Purl Stitch_, are the ones I recommend to all beginning knitters as well as to anyone who wants to brush up on basic techniques. And by “basic” I don’t mean just how to knit but also how to measure your knitting properly, how to count rows, how to do seams, etc. I love Melville’s clear prose and musings on knitting as meditation and practice, and the color photographs of various techniques (with several sequential photos for each one, and differently colored yarn used for rows or stitches you need to pay attention to) alone are worth the price of each book.

  2. I’d like to get my sister into knitting — what are the basic tools I should set her up with, along with these beginner books?

  3. Ahoy Marsha,

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the post 🙂 Also, thanks for the suggestions on those books. I haven’t heard of either of them, but they sound very much worthy of looking into.

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