Ok, so it’s not a library but a collection of several books I have followed as I’ve started out on my knitting journey. There are some great books around, for beginners and improvers, and I will update this as I find more. Here are the ones I’ve used so far:
About 11 years ago (in the days when I couldn’t cast on or off) my sister had a baby and I wanted to knit something for the new arrival. Our mother lent me Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss (Ebury Press). It is full of absolutely gorgeous patterns for infants and toddlers, using the softest wool, and I made baby pink garter stitch scarf. Later, when I was pregnant, I loved flicking through the pages and imagining myself knitting all kinds of clothes for my child. I knitted a white garter stitch blanket – a very simple project for a beginner. I know a few knitters who took up the needles when they or someone in their family was pregnant, so this is a great first book for that scenario. It takes you through the basic techniques of casting on and off, as well as some irresistible hats, booties and cardigans for the nursery.
When I took up knitting properly last summer, I wanted to try something different to baby knitting as most of the children I know are a little older, and was also keen to make something for myself. I bought Knitting for the Absolute Beginner, by Alison Dupernex (Search Press). This has very detailed practical steps, methods for increasing and decreasing, and patterns for babies, young children and adults. I knitted my first non-scarf garment from this book – this jumper.
Another beginners’ book is Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner by Aneeta Patel (Bloomsbury). This is a colourful guide to first steps and patterns, with helpful advice by Aneeta, a knitting teacher, and beautiful photographs by Peter Schiazza. I used this book to learn to knit a hat – which you can read about here.
After knitting a few basic garments, any enthusiastic newcomer will want to get to the next level – particularly if, like me, they are keen to try new things. Beyond Knit & Purl by Kate Atherley (Cooperative Press) is perfect for improvers. It is absolutely packed with advice and incredibly thorough detail, like an academic textbook. There is advice on things that you don’t realise you need to know – for example, how stocking stitch and garter stitch work differently when knitting in the round to using two needles. I will use this as a knitting reference book as I continue to pick up new techniques.
One of the most stunning – and challenging – things you can do with knitting is to create Fair Isle and Nordic patterns. I love a challenge, so looking for a book to start this technique I discovered Knit Nordic by Eline Oftedal (Collins & Brown), a Norwegian knitwear designer. This book features 20 contemporary garments and accessories based on four traditional Nordic patterns. I have started knitting her racerback top, which uses the Marius pattern in navy red and white, from this book, and will write about my progress on another blogpost. I tried to knit a swatch of the Marius pattern in red and white, and found the grid pattern easier than I ever imagined. More on this soon!
Inspired by all things Nordic and Fair Isle, I could not resist two books by Mary Jane Mucklestone: 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs and 200 Fair Isle Designs (both Search Press). These are guides to the two techniques, with extra advice on circular knitting, stranding, steeking and creating your own designs. Each book has a catalogue of traditional patterns and I will use them as reference guides.