Q for You: What are your favorite knitting pattern books?

Best knitting pattern books

This Q for You comes from rachelalise in the comments, who is looking for recommendations on the best knitting pattern books:

I have an (unrelated) question for you and your most wise readers as I work out my Christmas list: do you have any favorite pattern *books* that a knitter should own? I realize that I almost exclusively knit from online patterns purchased one-off, and I’d love to build a collection of books that I can return to that contain patterns. (I have a good set of what I guess I’d term “technique books,” and all the most wonderful EZ books, but nothing else that is exclusively dedicated to patterns.)

I’m rather in the same boat and share her curiosity. For me, in my admittedly narrow experience, there aren’t a lot of books that have enough good patterns in them to warrant the cover price. So I have only invested in a few. Here are the ones I’m happiest to have bought, in no particular order:

1. The Knitter’s Book of Wool by Clara Parkes. Not “exclusively dedicated to patterns” — it’s about half education and half patterns, but both halves are well worth owning. (I believe the same is true of her Knitter’s Book of Yarn, but I loaned it to someone and never got it back, so can’t say for sure.)

2. More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson is the book that made me a knitter, and it is just wall to wall with excellent patterns.

3. Pom Pom Quarterly is like a really good pattern book that happens to be sold in installments.

4. Pioneer by Martin Storey. They may be classified and sold as periodicals, but the one-off editions of Rowan are actually slender, beautifully produced, paperback books. This volume (which I originally raved about here) contains more patterns I want to knit than any other bound object on my shelf.

5. Knitting by Design by Emma Robertson. Just published a few weeks ago, and I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with it. It’s very young and bright and funky, not designed or photographed like any other knitting book out there, but contains several wildly adaptable patterns. E.g., a knitted tank sweater happens to be white and dip-dyed, but you could make that tank a million different things by changing the yarn/color, dyeing it or not, etc. Same with the colorblock mittens, the adorable vest, etc.

6–8. Knit One Knit All, Knitter’s Almanac and Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann. It takes a little imagination to see how some of EZ’s garments and accessories can look modern, but they can. I did a riff on this in Street styling Elizabeth Zimmermann (a year ago today! how weird), but just look at Abigail Chapin in her light grey Icelandic Overblouse (from Knit One Knit All), which is just like EZ’s original and looks perfectly current.

Those are the ones I’m most likely to knit from, although when it comes time to browse patterns, I do turn to my PDFs. I’ll also mention that one book I really want but don’t own yet is Fair Isle Style by Mary Jane Mucklestone. So let’s hear it, please: What are your favorite knitting pattern books?

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you join a new ball of yarn?

I made a sock

Stepping Stones hand-knit sock

I swore I was going to knit a sock this summer, right? Which to me means by Labor Day. After that Starter Socks post awhile back, I exchanged a few tweets with Clara Parkes and decided my first socks would be her Stepping Stones, seen in that post — a free pattern, in worsted-weight yarn, and Clara knows from socks. When Sarah Hurwitz recently announced her “sockalong,” I almost wavered and cast on Hermione’s Everyday Socks with her instead (the other contender from my Starter Socks post). But 1) fingering, not so compatible with my self-imposed deadline, and 2) I don’t even own any sock-appropriate fingering. What I did have in my stash, when the mood hit me last Saturday night, was this variegated Malabrigo Rios, which was sure to obscure the nice stitch pattern on the leg, but which happens to be superwash. Since warm feet are the objective, and a little rim of blue-green sticking out of my boot tops will suit me just fine, the decision was made.

What I hadn’t noticed is that even though it’s a worsted-weight pattern, it’s knit on US2 needles, 54 stitches per round. Hermione is 64 stitches on US1 needles, so not as big of a difference as I might have assumed. But I’m glad I stuck with Clara’s pattern, and I especially love the way the heel flap is done. It’s knit with alternating strands of the same yarn — stranded knitting! — and the tension and double-density of those floats make for what seems like a pretty bomb-proof heel. (I won’t even try to describe how slowly I knitted the wrong-side rows of that stranded section. Thank god it’s only a two-inch square!) End result: super dense sock, sure to keep my toes warm in the studio this winter and survive repeat washings. But if anyone has thoughts on sock-worthy, worsted-weight, wool yarns that don’t have that unfortunate squeakiness of superwash — the earthier the better — please voice them! Meanwhile, I’ll be doing my research. Because there are more sweater-weight socks in my future.

So I made a sock this summer. Now the question is, how long before it has a mate? Feel free to wager and/or tell me about what you’re working on! And have a lovely weekend, whether it’s a holiday for you or not.

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New Favorites: Starter socks

starter socks - great knitting patterns

While I have a general and persistent wish for warmer feet, I rarely have even a flicker of a wish to knit socks. I mean, they take forever to knit and they’re generally hidden inside your shoes. And it’s not like decent socks are hard to come by. AND! I’m hard on socks! Regardless, I really should try it sometime, right?

These things give me the urge:

1. Rililie’s ridiculously cute First-Time Socks (the pattern for which is Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder) (thx, Rililie)

2. Clara Parkes’ charming Stepping Stones socks (free download; also found in The Knitter’s Book of Socks)

3. Purl Soho’s luscious Homespun Boot Socks

4. And most compelling of all: Pablo Neruda’s Ode to My Socks

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This week’s ICYMI post is Transformative Mods: A modern spin on Flukra.

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