One of the reasons I enjoy knitting so much is that it gives me a chance to browse a different type of book, a functional one, one that will help me create something. This has only increased over recent years as knitting books have moved further away from simply collections of patterns for the knitter, towards a place where creators muse on the politics and meaning of knitting. Like reading Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles or sinking deep into Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, there are people out there like Karie Westermann writing fascinating meditations on knitting, craft, feminism, and politics in her book This Thing of Paper that show the true power of knitting as a political and feminist act.
I hope the below knitting books can be useful to knitters of all levels. I have been knitting for a long time but I am a slow knitter so am definitely not as skillful as I should be. Some of these patterns are way beyond my skills or patience, but I like to have something to work towards. Others are knitting books I have loved, or borrowed (and loved) from friends, along the way. I’ve tried to split them into difficulty levels from beginner upwards. However, don’t let the fact you only know how to knit and purl put you off – the best way to learn more advanced skills is by picking a pattern you love and trying to master those trickier new stitches.
But first, as has been widely discussed of late within the knitting community, the world of knitting is distinctly lacking in diversity. It isn’t acceptable that in 2019 it is very difficult to find a knitting book published by a person of colour, or to find patterns featuring models that are not cis, white, and of certain ‘acceptable’ sizes. When putting together this list it became strikingly obvious how much of a problem this is. Jeanette Sloan has written about this problem for Issue 187 of Knitting Magazine and has also created this list of amazing People of Color Designers and Crafters here, so please do go beyond the list of books below and look at the wide range of patterns and styles available. Our knitting lives will be richer for it.
Knitting Books for Beginners
Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitters Handbook by Debbie Stoller
Stitch ‘n Bitch is a fun place to start your knitting journey off. It is friendly and accessible and the instructions are easy to follow.
Knitters Book of Knowledge by Debbie Bliss
This Debbie Bliss book is a great resource for learning new techniques and understanding the range of different stitches available to even the newest of knitters.
For easy patterns to try when you’re starting out, it is often best to head to Ravelry, an online community for knitters and crocheters where you can find thousands of patterns for free or just a few dollars.
Knitting Books for Advanced Knitters
Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods by Leslie Ann Bestor
Learning about different methods of casting on and binding off my knitting was a total game-changer for me. Cast On, Bind Off looks brilliant.
The latest edition of the Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book, is a must own for any keen knitter.
Kaffe’s Colours by Kaffe Fassett
Kaffe Fassett creates the most beautiful designs using gloriously bright colours, and Rowan’s Kaffe’s Colours is no exception. This collection of garments to knit looks like it would be great fun and inject some much needed color into the dreary winter season.
Milarrochy Heids by Kate Davies
Kate Davies’ beautiful designs are the object of much of my knitting lust. Loads of my knitting pals love making hats and I think this collection of more than a dozen hats by different designers is well worth purchasing. You can purchase Milarrochy Heids from Kate Davies’ site here.
More Knitting Books
I will buy these knitting books because I want to knit ALL of the things…
Knitwear Design Workshop by Shirley Paden
Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop is an essential guide for those looking to progress their knitting and understand the elements of design that might go into creating your own garments.
Mastering Color Knitting: Simple Instructions for Stranded, Intarsia, and Double Knitting by Melissa Leapman
I am not very good at colorwork when I am knitting but I have perused this book when visiting my mum and it looks like it might really help: Mastering Color Knitting: Simple Instructions for Stranded, Intarsia, and Double Knitting.
Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley
I picked up a copy of this last summer and as my New Year’s resolution to knit more has been progressing nicely I am determined to knit myself a pair of socks. The clear instructions in this are helping me get my head around this trickier knitting: Custom Socks: knit to fit your feet.
Curls 2 by Hunter Hammersen
Shawls are another knitter favourite amongst my friends, but they can be tricky to wear and knit. Hunter Hammerson’s Curls 2 looks like a great solution to this problem, they are well proportioned wraps designed to fit the wearer that work well no matter the gauge you are using. Sign me up!
Yokes by Kate Davies
Another Kate Davies book here, Yokes. One day I will be skilled enough to make one (or all) of these gorgeous tops…one day…
If you would like to support more BIPOC creators in the knitting world, then you can follow the #diversknitty hashtag on Instagram or peruse Jeanette Sloan’s list of creators.
Good Luck, learning new things is hard, so be kind to yourself and remember to have fun. What other knitting books would you recommend?