Obsession Thursdays: Knitting Books

It’s Jillian and I have a knitting book obsession. I have a lot, I’ve been buying them since the late 80’s. They have moved with me 5 times, growing every time.

I’ve never counted them:

Newer knitting books and magazines, also spinning books

I don’t alphabetize them, just sort of group them by topic or whim. I almost never loan them out.

Knit design books and stitch dictionaries

Some of my books have to live in the basement, which I’m reorganizing. They keep my yarn company.

The 80's & 90's. Lots of Rowan, including the magazines starting with #1

Even though I get review books for Knitty, I still buy a lot of books every year.

Review book stash in the process of reorganization, plus older magazines.

Right now I’m stuck on stitch dictionaries of all eras and all of the self published and small press knitting books that lots of designers are doing.

What are your favorite knitting books?


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Jillian is the​ author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor​ of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts. She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing. Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com

43 thoughts on “Obsession Thursdays: Knitting Books

  1. Robin

    I adore an annual re-reading of all my Elizabeth Zimmerman titles. I love how her personality infuses the content and makes you feel as if you were just sitting and chatting and knitting with her.

  2. virgi

    I’m not sure whether it’s a book, or a small booklet given away with a magazine.
    It belongs to my mum and it’s called “Mon Tricot”. It used to be a magazine published in many European countries, Italy included, where my family lives. I scanned some pages when I left home. It has the basics of knitting and crocheting, different finishing methods, how to work armhole, sleeves, and necklines, a section on Tunisian crochet, and how to read Japanese pattern. Basically a small encyclopaedia.

  3. Renee Anne

    Funnily enough, I found a bunch of my grandmother’s knitting/crochet books stemming from the mid-1940s through the 1960s. I’ve never tried anything from any of them (and may never, either)…but I love them. They entertain me greatly.

  4. Seanna Lea

    For new books, I really love Little Red in the City. Ysolda did an amazing job with this book and it definitely does not have the feel of self publishing.

  5. Barbara

    I have really been enjoying 10 Secrets of Laid Back Knitters. Reading it always leaves a smile on my face.

  6. LaurieM

    I want a book that teaches me some thing and gives me interesting things to knit that have lasting appeal.

    I recently bought Knitting Plus and love it.

  7. Nell

    And I thought I had a lot of books.
    I have to say I’m excited that Principles of Knitting is coming out again- although I have the original. Always, always love what EZ has to offer.

  8. Jackie C.

    The Knitter’s Almanac (EZ), Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries, Judith Durant’s One Skein Wonder series — especially the last one for sock yarns, Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls, Rowan’s Vintage Knitting, Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Socks for Every Body — ok, better stop now, clearly I have an obsession with knitting books, too!

  9. Adrienne

    My personal favorites happen to be stitch definitions. I like wandering through them for ideas based on what’s currently in stash for gifts.

  10. CambriaW

    Wow. I was right there with you at first, going “I’ve got that many books too”, and then the photos kept coming and coming, lol. I bow to your formidable library πŸ™‚

  11. Jodie

    I thought my book collection was bad! I love me some stitch dictionaries–I think I have … no never mind you don’t need to know how many I have. πŸ™‚

  12. gabriela markley

    I have fallen in love with old knitting books. I started collecting them and enjoy reading the patterns..

  13. Cathy Bayliss

    I’ve been gathering books on traditional knitting techniques, especially Ganseys. I just love Mary Wright’s “Cornish Guernseys and Knit Frocks” And Michael Pearson’s “Traditional Knitting”. Nothing like mixing history and knitting in one book.

  14. Anne

    I love knitting books with pretty pictures – dolls and plushies are favorites – but try and limit myself to books that teach techniques more than (well, okay, as well as) simply give patterns.
    For magazines, my rule is 3 or more patterns or articles I will actually use – some time down the line.
    The books I really want right now are Barbara Walker’s stitchionaries, a Cat Bordhi book, and Carol Meldrum’s “Knitted Icons”. Maybe some of the “20 to make” series: fruits, veggies, fast food…

  15. Jenn

    DomiKnitrix by Jennifer Stafford. It’s thoroughly entertaining and a good primer. (And who hasn’t had a brain error and forgotten how to do something they’ve done a thousand times before? Never hurts to remind yourself of the basics now and then.)

  16. Karen

    Alice Starmore’s fairisle book is a great favourite – so much interesting information and stitch patterns. I have yet to attempt one of her designs, but I can dream in colour!

  17. Eleanor

    My knitting book stash is at the public library! I just borrow my favorites over and over again, usually for 10 weeks at a time (5 renewals). Unfortunately, the shelving and organization looks much like yours, which is fine for a private stash, but for a county establishment it’s pretty pathetic. The up side is that when I can’t find what I’m looking for (evidently abc’s and 123’s are difficult for some), I put in a request and some paid county employee somehow locates it while I just sit back and wait for notification that my book is ready for me!

  18. Cari

    What fun to see your well-stocked shelves! My faves from my own shelves include the Barbara Walker series and Susanna E Lewis’ Knitting Lace. I also love both No Sheep For You and Alt Fiber for the wealth of information they offer about yarns other than wool/animal fibres. Hottest on my want list is The Haapsalu Shawl.
    I rarely lend out my books, and only to trusted and true friends!

  19. Brooke

    My favorite books are Elizabeth Zimmerman books. I just love begin talked to as if she is sitting across from me. Plus, she is so empowering. Whenever I feel like I really have no idea what I am doing I pull out one of her books and I feel a bit better about my knitting skills.

  20. Caroline

    I have a large collection too, though not quite as formidable as yours, since I’ve only been knitting and buying knitting books for 5 years! (Great collection, BTW. It’s what my knitting library aspires to be.) It’s hard to say which are my favorites. When I was learning, “The Knitting Answer Book” saved me many times with easy explanations of all sorts of techniques. I still love to flip through the ones with WOW projects, like “Victorian Lace Today” and “Think Outside the Sox” – and of course, Alice Starmore’s “Fair Isle” and “Book of Aran Knitting” – the history and principles are fascinating, as well as the designs. The stitch patterns in “Knitted Lace of Estonia” and “Twisted-Stitch Knitting” are surprisingly versatile. For designing, the ones I go back to again and again are “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns” by Ann Budd and “Knitting Rules!” by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. The math and proportions in them are so helpful, and of course the humor doesn’t hurt! πŸ™‚

  21. Nicole

    Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book was invaluable to me when I was just learning how to knit. I hardly use it any more but it holds a special place in my heart.

  22. jeanette

    I always go to Barbara Walker’s treasuries first. Sometimes, I will jsut browse through them dreaming of designing something. I have numerous post-it notes fringing those books. Then, I go back and re-read the magazines that I collect. McCall’s Needlework from the 80’s and early 90’s are great for inspiration and they show the timelessness of some of my favorite designers such as Helene Rush, Norah Gaughan, and Kristen Nichols.

  23. Barb T

    Jillian, and all of you with more books than you’ll ever read, you might want to investigate LibraryThing.com. It’s a website that allows you to inventory all of your books and they keep the inventory for you (in case of a fire or something you’ll have it for your insurance company). LT allows up to 200 books free and makes a one-time charge to be beyond that level with no maximum. Well worth the protection. You can also buy a small UPC scanner to enter the data from the newer books (much easier than having to type it all in). Check it out.

  24. Jemmy

    I only own four or five knitting books and a handful of magazines but I love the library! My absolute favourite is ‘A History of Handknitting’ by Richard Rutt, I’ve been the only one to check it out (repeatedly) for the past year or so. I know this because when I get it all my notes and stickies are still there! I love all the really old school stitch patterns and I like reading about how knitting evolved in different cultures and spread across the world. I wish so much that they would put it back in print again so I could buy it. πŸ™

  25. Mona

    My large library of knitting books is my mom’s. She might not have quite as many as you, but she’s got a lot.

    I <3 EZ's books, for the same reason so many people have said. It's not like reading a book. It's like she's sitting there talking to you.

    Cat Bordhi's books are all fun to read, too.

    And the Walker Treasuries are to be treasured.

  26. Wendy

    I am also an EZ fan. Also love the humorous goings-on in the Pearl-McPhee household of the Yarn Harlot. I showed my husband the photos of all your books. He Never minded my books (knitting and other crafts) before (as it rivals his music collection), but I think he’s glad I don’t have such an extensive collection.

  27. Patricia H

    Well, they are everywhere! In my bedroom until they have been flipped through a lot. Then in the craft basement, where they keep my yarn company!

  28. mmo'brien

    What a great library, I am envious! My favorite books are Lace patterns, stitch dictionaries, sock patterns, and mitten pattern books – in that order. I keep a list of the books I have and a list of books I would like to get (that lists just keeps getting bigger and bigger.) I like EZ, Herbert Niebling, and Donna Druchunas. And when I get too serious I read the Yarn Harlot! Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  29. Lori

    Unless I’ve got a specific project in mind, my various stitch dictionaries get grabbed more than anything else in the library.

  30. Patricia

    I love Contemporary Knitting for Textile Artists (Ruth Lee), Unexpected Knitting (Debbie New) and Diagonal Knitting (Katharine Cobey). They all remind me that knitting is a form of play and self-expression, not just a way to make warm clothes.

  31. marta

    I was buying a lot of knitting books, but now I get them at the library. I don’t want to own any book that I don’t totally love and want to look at again and again.

  32. Marti

    Since my favorite thing to knit is socks, most of the knitting books I buy now are sock knitting books. I also like to read books with short knitting stories so I recently succombed to “My Grandmother’s Knitting”.

  33. Egrace

    I love my books by Elizabeth Zimmerman. But I also love my Barbara Walker ones and turn to them frequently. And I agree with many of you, the library has become my knitting library. Then there’s another source and that is the libraries of my knitting friends!

  34. G. K. Green

    Absolute all-time favorite? Barbara Walker’s treasuries of knitting stitches … Recent(ish) favorites? Shirley Paden’s design book and Maggie Righetti’s “plain English” series … Plus everything everyone else already said and will say in these comments! 8^)

  35. Pam F

    Have you folks seen the knitting calendar over at the Victoria/Albert museum store online? It’s very fun!

  36. Ali

    I loved Divorced Drunk and covered in Cat Hair. I know it’s not a KNITTING BOOK, and it’s a book about knitting… But I love it.

    As far as strictly knitting books I love my Socks East Meets West book. I love reading about “new” stitches and patterns for my fingers to fiddle. I also love EZ…. But I have to say I love ALL my books… I have less than 10. I have to love it to have it.

  37. Jayne

    My family always asks me how many knitting books do I really need! I am obsessesed with it and love looking at all the kntting projects . I love the pictures and yarns and colors! and the textures are so enjoyable! nothing like a good knitting book to make me feel all comfy .

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