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Monday, March 28, 2011

One is Not Enough

With field guides, dictionaries, and knitting books, one is never enough, I've found.

Always in search of unfamiliar patterns and treasured how-to tidbits, I have a panoply of them.  There's the popular 365 Knitting Stitches a Year, with its colorful perpetual calendar styling--fun to flip through, fun to use for test swatches.

There's The Knitting Stitch Bible, also spiral-bound, also in color, but with charted patterns instead of written ones.

There's Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, from which I've gleaned a tip or two.  And Vogue Knitting Quick Reference, so useful for construction details.

For clarity of basic instructions I like Hansi Singh's Amigurumi Knits.  Hansi, probably half my age, is unwittingly one of my prime mentors.  Mesmerized, I knitted my way through two-thirds of her menagerie of magically whimsical critters.

And Jay Petersen, whose work you can see both on Ravelry and on his blog, Fuzzy Logic, is a mentor for his charted entrelac designs.  Like a treasure hunt, they are, requiring of the reader much I-spy-with-my-little-eye work.

But if you were to limit me to one—no, two; it must be two—authors whose encyclopedic works I have found most useful, it would be the Barbaras:  Abbey and Walker.

In 1971 Barbara Abbey gave us The Complete Book of Knitting.  Watch for it in used book stores.  Along with basic knitting information, she included a selection of traditional stitch patterns along with their best uses.  Those words are key, for they point the designer toward the kind of fabric a given stitch will produce, and its most felicitous applications.

Then came Barbara Walker, with her now-legendary series that began with A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  Walker picked up where Abbey left off, and then some.  Again, besides the cornucopia of heritage and new patterns, Barbara Walker guided us toward their best use—a critical component, in my opinion.

I started with her first and second treasuries.  Now I can't wait for Amazon to deliver her third in the series.  I'd knit an entire scrapbook of test swatches, if only the written version didn't spark so many ideas!

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