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Recommended Knitting Books and DVDs
with short reviews by Margaret Radcliffe, owner of Maggie's Rags

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Home In Association with Amazon.com This is a highly personal list of knitting books that I use myself and that I recommend to my students. For your convenience, to purchase the book, just click on the cover or the title. If you're looking for a book that's not listed here, you can get to Amazon.com by clicking on their logo. If a book isn't included here, it doesn't mean that I don't like it--I may just not have had time to look at it yet.

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The Knitting Answer Book

I am very pleased with the publication and reception of my first knitting book. Since 1998 I've answered knitting questions in classes, by e-mail and through the tips page of this web site. Now, I've compressed a huge amount of knowledge into this comprehensive book. Its small format and affordable price makes it perfect to tuck into your knitting bag. If you can't sit next to me and ask questions while you're knitting, this is the next best thing.

Knitting and Book Stores - Do you want to carry this book?

Intarsia Untangled 1 and 2, DVDs by Lucy Neatby

Intarsia strikes fear into the hearts of many knitters, but Lucy serves as your guide to all of its intricacies. I highly recommend these DVDs as an excellent addition to any knitter’s library, especially if you’re a visual learner. They’re the next best thing to taking a class from Lucy in person.
Read my full review here

The Crochet Answer Book

I hate to confess it in public, but I am crochet challenged. I never learned to crochet as a child so find it difficult as an adult. But Edie Eckman has solved my problem with The Crochet Answer Book. It provides a comprehensive reference for beginning and experienced crocheters alike. Thanks to this book, I actually crocheted a shell border onto one of my knitted garments. I'm planning to work my way through the whole book as soon as I have time.

Knit Christmas Stockings!

Another fun book from Storey Publishing, edited by Gwen Steege, with patterns by a wide range of knitting designers. Stocking designs range from traditional to contemporary. (I did the copy editing.)

Knit One Felt Too

Kathleen Taylor covers the process of felting from start to finish and provides instructions for lots of projects, from the usual slippers, bags and toys to wine bottle and ear muff covers! One of the details I like about this book is the fact that it gives measurements both before and after felting. (I did the copy editing on this book too.)

Knit Socks!

Betsy McCarthy has come up with a wide range of designs for a wide range of feet-from babies to men. The book begins with complete instructions on how to make a basic sock. Experienced sock knitters can skip this section and go straight to the fun part. Betsy has some great tips, so be sure to read all the hints. (Guess who copy edited the book? That's right--me again.)

Knit Scarves!

The scarf craze seems to have no end. Thanks to Candi Jensen's book, there will be plenty of interesting scarves to knit once everyone gets tired of plain old garter stitch. My favorite scarf in the whole book is the "Cable Car," a cabled confection in white angora and wool, with pompoms on the end just for fun. (Yep, I copy edited it, and I got to fondle all the scarves in the process.)

An Usborne Guide: Knitting from Start to Finish

This is my favorite learn-to-knit book. Although it's intended for "youth," it is the most compact but comprehensive starter book I've seen and I recommend it whole-heartedly for adults. It includes circular knitting, the importance of gauge/tension, finishing techniques and designing your own projects.

Stitch 'n Bitch

Subtitled "The Knitter's Handbook," this is the best-selling knitting book in the U.S. If you're looking for a knitting guide with attitude--this is it. Includes some semi-philosophical musings on knitting and knitters, plus basic patterns and techniques.

Unexpected Knitting

Those of us familiar with the work of knitter innovator Debbie New were so exited when a book of her designs finally appeared. "Unexpected" is hardly the word for it! Debbie is pushing the knitting envelope--swirl knitting, sculptures, monumental tapestries, even a knitted boat. Don't miss this book. She's succeeded in knitting things the rest of us never conceived of, let alone attempted.

The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques

Nancie Wiseman has written the best book I've ever seen on finishing techniques. With clear, precise explanations and copious pictures, she covers the same content that I focus on in my finishing classes. I can't recommend this book highly enough--I only wish I had written it myself! I even learned a new trick from it.

Knitting in the Old Way

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' classic book has been revised and expanded, making it even more useful than the original edition. Contains complete information on how to design your own sweaters based on traditional garments.

Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy

Another classic from Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, this book has the definitive short-row heel. If you've ever been frustrated by holes at your turning points, this book will solve your problems. It also gives easy-to-understand instructions for designing socks that really fit.

Knitting Ganseys

I consider this book a classic as well. Beth Brown-Reinsel provides thoroughly-researched historic information on the traditional sweaters of the Channel Islands, delightful original designs of her own, plus the best instructions for the Channel Islands cast on that you'll find anywhere. Learn the traditional techniques on the miniature sweater, then go on to knit one of Beth's original designs or make up one of your own.

Kids, Kids, Kids: 40 Winning Designs...

This colorful and creative book is full of designs from the Knitter's Magazine Kid's Contest. Published in 1999, it has designs for kids of all ages, plus mittens and toys. Don't miss the St. George and the Dragon sweater or the huge stuffed pony. Also--check out the Snowflake Sweater on page 86, contributed by me, Margaret Radcliffe.

Socks, Socks, Socks: 70 Winning Patterns...

Like Kids, Kids, Kids, this sock book was the result of a Knitter's Magazine contest. It contains a very wide range of styles, techniques and levels of difficulty. By far, the most innovative socks are Debbie New's freeform Maple Swirl Socks pictured on the cover. Debbie had to invent a new method of charting in order to write the instructions for these. Another favorite of mine are the Little Piggy Toes socks--complete with little piggy faces on all the toes. I also contributed to this book--a pair of lace socks called Tiger Eye.

Knitting Without Tears...

Like so many other designers, I got started thanks to this book by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I had been knitting from other people's patterns and the garments just weren't turning out the way they should. I ran across a copy of this book at the public library and suddenly realized that I didn't need to work from patterns any more. I also learned to knit socks from this book. The heel described in it, with a garter stitch edge, is the best I've ever found and the one I almost always use. I recommend this book to all my students and find myself returning to it time and again as a reference, but also because it's fun to read.

Homespun Handknit: Caps, Socks, Mittens...

Another compilation, this time from Spin Off Magazine, Homespun Handknit is a great source of patterns for all sorts of small items--hats, socks, mittens and gloves. It also contains the best reference information I've found on yarn weights, including wraps per inch, yards per pound, knitting needle size, and stitches per inch. This is another book that I use frequently and recommend to my students when they are looking for small projects.

Folk Socks: The History & Techniques of...

My favorite sock reference book. The opening section includes clear and complete instructions for making a basic sock, including excellent drawings, and instructions for many different heel and toe shapings. The rest of the book has patterns for socks from many different countries. Although I rarely knit from other people's patterns, I have actually made at least two socks from this book, and have used several of the heels and toes.

Knitting Books
Spinning Books
Dyeing Books
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Cover images copyrighted by various publishers and authors
All other text and images copyright © 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 Margaret K.K. Radcliffe