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January 25, 2006

I'm Wondering...

It's Wednesday and I'm wondering:

What's the best reference book for beginning knitters?

A few weeks ago, a colleague and friend asked me to teach her how to knit. Her request led to a few other friend/colleagues asking as well, and before we knew it we had a semi-regular Saturday afternoon lesson and stitch-and-bitch thing going. Just last week C., the original and most enthusiastic new knitter, announced that she had taken a job in California and would be leaving Boston, our firm, and -- saddest of all -- our nascent knitting group.

She's expressed concern that she's going to run into problems with her knitting when she gets to Cali -- where she doesn't know any knitters. I want to send her off with a good reference book to help her through the next few weeks until she taps into the knitting mafia community in Sacramento* for help and advice.

So let's hear it -- what's the must-have book for beginners?

*And if you know anything about the knitting scene in Sacramento -- LYSs, knitting groups, etc. -- please chime in!

Posted by shannon at January 25, 2006 8:44 PM | For related posts: Wondering Wednesday


I find Debbie Stoller's original Stitch N Bitch (the first one) to be my most used reference book. Clear illustrations and descriptions. Fun verbage. Good basic projects. Good luck to your friend on her move!

Posted by: Rossana at January 25, 2006 11:30 PM

I like Stitch n Bitch for a beginner, too. I'm not a beginner, and I still find it useful and easy to follow. I've lived in the Sacramento area and am now in Davis (25mi away), so I would be happy to hook her up with the local LYS and knitting groups. There's a group that meets downtown every Thursday night. Several are in the advanced beginner phase (they are doing a knitalong for their first sweater), but they welcome new members and are willing to help.

Posted by: JJ at January 26, 2006 12:18 AM

I love the Yarn Girl's Guide, the first one, for its truly step by step pics and step by step directions for sleeve shaping. Mostly big needle, and the yarns used are pricey, but as long as they get the concept of gauge and substitution, it shouldn't be a problem and the ease of making a sweater as a newbie is a big ego boost.

Posted by: spaazlicious at January 26, 2006 2:22 AM

When I learned to knit a year ago I bought a pair of needles and two balls of yarn at a LYS. I ask the employees which one book I should have as a beginning knitter. They said without a doubt I should get SnB. But they were out of stock and told me to go to the Barnes and Noble down the street and buy it now. That's exactly what I need and it's been a really useful book.

Posted by: Dena at January 26, 2006 7:01 AM

I have SnB, and while I really like it, I gotta say that after much research, I think that "Teach Yourself Visually Knitting". It's got directions for basic knitting and purling, but also colorwork, shaping, and finishing. Furthermore, it's got photographs instead of drawings, and very clear step-by-step instructions. I know, it seems a little cheesy, but it is definitely the best intro book I have seen or used.

Posted by: Carla at January 26, 2006 8:40 AM

I happen to like Vogue Knitting. It's a big book, a bit of a pain to carry around sometimes, but I find that it's informative and non judgemental.

Posted by: Colleen at January 26, 2006 9:29 AM

For a beginner, I love Knitting Pretty - also good instructions and illustrations, but really focused on the basics you need to knit - it also some REALLY easy stuff that you can finish up and feel good about - the scarf, hat, slipper, kerchief, cellphone cozy, etc. type of project as well as the sweater and poncho stuff. It's less overhwelming that the other books -

Posted by: Thea at January 26, 2006 12:15 PM

I thought Scarf Style would be good, but limiting as it's only scarves, but has a good variety of patterns and introduces the beginner to textures. SnB (which I don't have) seems to be a good one, from what I've read.

Posted by: MJ at January 26, 2006 1:31 PM

i liked the "big book of knitting"...the pictures could actually be followed. also, the vogue knits quick reference was a real help as it was portable is really hard to find a book that accurately describes how to knit AND has good visuals...

Posted by: lisa b at January 26, 2006 7:31 PM

What a nice thing for you to do. I've been knitting for a long time, and own many knitting books, and would also recommend the Vogue knitting book. It's always had what I needed when I went to it.

Posted by: Jen at January 27, 2006 12:38 AM

Oh, forgot to add Knitting Without Tears--everyone should read this book by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The thinking knitter's book.

Posted by: Jen at January 27, 2006 12:40 AM

There are a TON of knitters in Cali - tell her to find a group to join! (Not that I don't love me some knitting books!)

Posted by: Zabet at January 27, 2006 10:54 AM