Book Reviews

A good knitting book is a welcome gift for any knitter. Most knitters love to browse through knitting patterns.

As well as books of stylish knitting patterns you’ll need a good knitting encyclopedia to help you with new techniques and solve problems.

love-knitting-2Once you’ve knit a few items you may want to start to try some of the more advanced areas of knitting. Sock knitting is hugely popular at the moment, and learning how to introduce colour into your knitting will open up lots of possibilities for you.

If you want to start designing your own knits why not try top down, seamless knitting? There are some great books on seamless knitting to get you started.

Below are a selection of books that would be worthy additions to your bookshelf.

Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knitted Mittens: 45 Distinctive Scandinavian Patterns

Jorid Linik is a prolific designer of stranded colourwork mittens. Her beautiful designs are loved by knitters around the world.

This book of 45 mitten patterns clearly shows her love of knitted mittens. The clear explanations, the helpful advice and the carefully constructed diagrams all combine to make a book that is both inspirational and practical.

The designs range from monochrone scorpions and motorbikes through more traditional designs to the whimsical (and very popular) cow mittens.

If you like these designs, take a look at out knitting kits page.

25 Simple projects to knit.

Val Pierce

Projects range from a belt and a hair band, through hats, gloves and bags to sweaters and a lace shrug. The photo shows one of the sweaters and the super cute Fair Isle leg warmers.

The patterns are rated as to difficulty and there are useful notes and advice with each pattern.

love-knitting-3This book is ideal for newer, fashion conscious knitters. The patterns are fun and fashionable as well as a great introduction to new techniques and skills such as Fair Isle (stranded colour work), cables and lace.

The yarns used are easily available in the UK. All patterns, including hats, socks and gloves are knit flat so there is no need to buy circular needles if you don’t have them.

Knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver

This book of 18 One Seam Swirl Jackets has been an instant hit across the knitting world. Knitters of all ages have been buying Knit, Swirl!

The basic design is a real show stopper and if you love using colour in your knitting then these patterns give you the perfect opportunity.

The patterns are ideal for showing off hand painted yarn or other colour change yarns.

The minimal seaming is a selling point that won’t be wasted on all of us who are keen knitters but hate seaming our knits together at the end.

There are 18 patterns exploring the swirl theme, ranging from light and wispy summer jackets through to snuggly winter jackets. Many knitters have been unable to stop after making their first swirl jacket.

Knitwear Design Workshop by Shirley Paden

This is a comprehensive guide to designing knitting patterns. With well over 300 pages richly illustrated with photos, schematics and charts this book will earn its place on the bookshelf of any budding knitting designer.

Using worked examples it takes you through the mathematics of working out your stitch counts. Everything is covered from planning your design and choosing the yarn and pattern stitch through to finishing techniques.

The book looks at all the classic silhouettes for sweaters and skirts. There is an in depth look at armhole shaping, sleeves and cuffs and neckline shaping. There are worksheets for you to copy and use to guide you through the design process.

If this isn’t enough, the book also has 4 real show stopper knitting patterns.

No Sheep for You by Amy R. Singer

Amy Singer is the editor of Knitty, the biggest online knitting magazine. She is also allergic to wool!

The patterns in this book are all designed to play to the strengths of non-wool yarns.

There is also a fantastic section on the properties of different yarns as compared to wool. This will help you to make educated choices for yarn substitutions. It looks at cotton, silk, linen and other natural fibres as well as the various man made fibres.

Amy has done a great job in bringing together a fantastic collection of modern knitting patterns that are wearable and interesting to knit.

This book is one of my favourites – both entertaining and educational.

The Sock Knitter’s Workshop

Ewa Jostes & Stephanie van der Linden.

This is a book for sock obsessed knitters. To illustrate, it has details on 7 different styles of sock toe, including propeller toes and spiral toes.

If you want a sock that is perfectly shaped for the wearers foot, including the height of the instep and the width of heel. Or you want to try different ways of constructing and designing socks, then this is the book for you.

It covers cast ons, cuffs, heels, toes, top down, toe up and the use of circular needles. There are also 15 sock patterns. Most of the content is presented using the 4+1 configuration of double pointed needles.

There are charts for how many stitches to cast on, gusset size, heel styles, heel size, length of toe and toe type. All charts cover both sock weight and DK.

Knit So Fine: Designs with Skinny Yarn

L. Myers, C. Sulcoski & L. Grutzeck.

This is a collection of over 20 stylish knitting patterns using lightweight yarns. Knitting with lightweight yarns doesn’t have to be slow or boring. There are some quicker knits as well as longer projects. These designs really make all the effort worthwhile.

The patterns are in 4 categories: Speed, Simplicity, Style and Shine (more advanced projects). The patterns use weights 0 (Lace) to 2 (Fine).
Some patterns use 2 strands of yarn held together to give great colour effects and speed up the knitting. This is a great way to use up a stash of sock yarn!

Knits made with finer yarns look more professional and are much more figure flattering. (Which flatters more a thick padded jacket or a slim fitting jacket? The same applies to knitwear!)

Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel

I just love the patterns in this book. From the 25 patterns I’ve got a short list of 10 I’d really like to make! So far I’ve made the shrug and the sweater on the cover. The styles hit just the right balance, not too plain and not too fussy.

Stefanie’s philosophy is that if you’re going to all the trouble of making your own knitwear it should fit and flatter. The introduction shows how you can adjust the patterns so the finished garments fit you perfectly.

The patterns are all knit from the top down (also known as upside down knitting), so you can try them on as you go. If you’ve never tried top down knitting then these patterns are sure to tempt you.

The patterns are graded Supereasy, Medium and Challenge. There’s even a knit along, so you can see how other knitters are getting along, see photos of their finished garments and get advice if you get stuck. Errata for this book.

The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe

This 400 page book is such a handy size (16cm x 12cm), I keep a copy in my knitting bag and often refer to it. It’s a good price and features clear diagrams and concise instructions.

According to Margaret’s web site, the book was ‘test driven’ by her local knitting guild and it really shows, the explanations are all very clear.

There’s a lot of information packed into this little book. As well as the basics of yarns and stitches it also covers circular knitting, colour knitting, shaping, fitting and finishing.

There are also some useful tables and charts as well as a good list of further reading.

Compendium of Knitting Techniques

Betty Barnden.

Think of this book as a knitting granny. It is full of good sound advice on a wide range of knitting topics.

Topics include Equipment & Materials, Patterns & Charts, Design (including the colour wheel and how to choose designs to flatter different body shapes), Basic Techniques (including fixing mistakes), Advanced Techniques (buttonholes, short rows etc.), Knitting in the Round, Creative Techniques (dying, felting, intarsia etc.) and Assembly.

Overall a very useful book that will encourage you to move your knitting to the next level.

One Thousand Sweaters by Amanda Griffiths

This is a great resource. It takes a mix and match approach to allow you to make sweaters and cardigans designed to your requirements.

It has split pages with the upper pages consisting of 31 different sweater and cardigan body styles. Some of my favourites are the wrap cardigan, the bolero and the intarsia sweater.

The lower pages feature 15 sleeve styles, 28 collar styles, 2 belts and 5 pockets. The body patterns have a guide to show which styles of sleeve and collar are compatible with your chosen body style.

All the patterns are at 22sts x 30rows so will require a DK yarn. I’m a big fan or DK. It’s fine enough to give a more professional looking garment with a slimmer silhouette, but thick enough for reasonably fast progress.

The only down side is the limited size range, just 3 sizes, bust 34″, 36″ or 38″.

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book

This is a real knitting heavyweight. An encyclopedia of knitting that will really earn its keep.

It has detailed step by step illustrations to guide you through various knitting and finishing techniques. It even includes details on how to insert zips and elastic.

There is a detailed section on designing knitwear and a set of modular knitting patterns as well as a stitch dictionary.

I also loved the introductions to the various sections from some of the giants of the knitting world such as Elizabeth Zimmermann, Barbara Walker and Kaffe Fassett.

Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Elizabeth Zimmermann is one of the all time greats of the knitting world. You’ll find her books referenced time after time. Not having an EZ book in your knitting library would be like studying English literature without reading Dickens.

It isn’t a ‘learn to knit’ book but you’ll get lots of tips for improving your knitting. Some of the gems include the sewn cast off which will match your cast on and helps reduce curling of stocking stitch and her trick for adding ‘afterthought button holes’.

The book also includes patterns for various hats including snail hats (see our knitting projects page for a photo), mittens, socks and various seamless jumpers, all in her trademark conversational style.

Shadow Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro

Shadow knitting provides subtle patterns that appear and disappear depending on what light the item is seen in.

It is based on knitting alternating bands of light and dark yarn with the pattern formed by purl ridges. When viewed face on the item looks striped, but when viewed from an angle the underlying pattern becomes visible.

The patterns range from potholders, scarves and cushions to sweaters, jackets and Kimono style tops.

This book provides all you need to master the technique and start incorporating secret messages in your knitwear!