The Three Queens of Knitting

When I decided I wanted to dust off my childhood knitting skills and learn to knit socks, my mother gave me one of the greatest presents a knitter can get -- a copy of the all-around practical guide, Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book.  This 1930s-era gem has instructions for all manner of knitting basics (different ways to form knit and purl stitches, pattern-drafting how-to, basic patterns for gloves and mittens and socks, different ways to wind yarn into a ball, and so on) as well as a lively history of knitting down the ages and some sections on sophisticated topics like beaded knitting and Shetland shawls.  If you must limit yourself to just one knitting book, this is the one you should have.

But who can limit themselves to just one book?  Mary Thomas teaches knitters how to design their own projects, and any knitter doing design work needs a guide to stitch patterns.  The most complete, most beautifully presented, most clearly explained series of knitting stitch patterns is definitely Barbara Walker’s four collections of stitch patterns gathered through extensive research and correspondence with knitters.  Just about every stitch you might ever want is contained in these four volumes: from ribbing to edging, from cables to mosaic patterns, from simple knit/purl patterns to elegant lace.  And every one has clear, cogent instructions and a helpful photograph of the finished result.

Should you find that designing your own projects really suits your style, you must run, not walk, to the last of my Three Queens of Knitting, Elizabeth Zimmermann.  Begin your exploration of Zimmermann’s brilliance with the pocket-sized Knitter’s Almanac, a collection of twelve projects for each of the twelve months of the year.  You’ll find detailed instructions for each, but Zimmerman also lays out her pattern design logic and explains the math of sizing patterns up and down to fit different figures or suit alternate yarn.  Even if you merely read the Knitter’s Almanac, but never make any of the projects, you will close the book a better, smarter knitter!  

What’s next after you’ve gotten to know the Three Queens of Knitting?  It’s up to you!  But rest assured, you can always find more books, dvds, and magazines for knitters at the library.

Questions?  Ask the Librarian!  We'd be glad to help you find the right knitting book, or help answer your other craft questions!

Add new comment