Book Reviews

I have been reading a few knitting books of late–I know, I know, this cuts into my precious fiber time!–but, hey, I’m an academic and, like many of you, if I can’t be *doing* something with yarn, I’d gladly read about other people’s interactions with fiber. In the list below, you’ll find several kinds of books: a memoir, a history, an instruction manual, and a pattern collection that also includes instruction. [Photos are from Amazon]

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The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes
This book is part memoir, part essay collection, and a meditation on yarn and knitting. Ever since reading several of Clara’s other books; checking in on her blog, The Knitter’s Review; taking her Craftsy class on yarn; and hearing about her adventures as a yarn designer, I was super excited to find that she had a more reflective autobiography of her own life. The format of the book is endearing: each chapter begins with a story from her childhood, knitterly experience, or adult life and brings the narrative back around to a lesson about knitting–or vice versa. Knitting and life stories are interrelated with humor, good advice, and wisdom. One of my favorite stories concerns her rehab of an aunt’s old farmhouse and all the ways that her creative abilities and staying power have helped her in her life as an entrepreneur. Totally recommend this title–and also recommend used copies, which are available through Amazon and I’m not sure I’ll re-read it, but I’ll certainly pass it on . . .


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The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
This book is an excellent history that challenges our ideals of “the age of homespun”–that idyllic fantasy of home-production that could more accurately be described as an invention of the 19th century (and the age of industrialization). Ulrich, a professor of History, argues that the nostalgia for this imaginary ideal lead to the proliferation of spinning wheels in houses (often as decorations) and the influence of homespun ideas on the Arts and Crafts Movement as well as other aesthetic shifts. This book is certainly not for everyone, though it is relatively accessible as a history. Ulrich anchors each chapter with an object and I found myself draw to the chapter on spinning wheels. It’s a fun read and I think it’s a good reminder that in the age of knitting and spinning fever, we might be linking ourselves to a movement that was a tad more complicated than we might like to believe.


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Increase, Decrease: 99 Step-by-Step Methods by Judith Durant
I just picked up this book from my local library–I’m a sucker for these spiral-bound collections of stitches and techniques. Sometimes I end up buying them and sometimes I like to just know they exist at my library where I can check them out as needed. I think this one might find it’s way into my personal collection (along with Knit Fix, The Knowledgeable Knitter, and The Principles of Knitting). This book contains tons of terrifically helpful images of the how-tos and results of various increases and decreases. I am usually better with moving images (YouTube videos and the like), but Durant’s images are actually easy to follow and the pictures of the various swatches help everything make sense. It’s almost as having a big peg board covered in swatches. I would think that this book would be a designer’s best friend.


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Short Row Knits: A Master Workshop 
by Carol Feller

This book was on my wish list for a long time! Ever since I took Carol’s Craftsy classes on Cables, Sweater Surgery, Short Rows, and her *free* Short Rows 101, I have been reading her books–I particularly love Contemporary Irish Knits; her pattern books are also excellent and fun. This new book–due out Sept 15th–promises to be a great addition to her collection and is a companion to her full-length Craftsy class on short rows. I’ll have to post an update once this beauty comes in the mail. I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for my library to order a copy, so I snagged one on pre-order. Yay!

So, what are you reading? Any favorite new–or old–books on knitting, spinning, crafting?

This entry was posted in books, history, instruction, knitting, memoir, review. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Book Reviews

  1. Noémie says:

    Thank you for this post, it’s very useful 🙂 I have few books on the go at the moment, one is on fair isle knitting, one is called Knitting for good! By Betsy Greer but the one I currently read the most if knitting socks by Ann Budd 🙂 as I’ve been knitting socks quite a lot lately 🙂


    • lissymail says:

      I’d love to hear how you like the fair isle knitting book? Which one is it? And good luck with the socks!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

      • Noémie says:

        It’s called: The Very Easy Guide To Fair Isle Knitting, step-by-step techniques, easy-to-follow stitch patterns and projects to get you started, by Lynne Watterson. I do like it, the instructions are very clear. You have lots of swatch patterns for all sorts of fair isle. You can easily adapt them to whatever project you want to add them on 🙂 very useful! I got it from the library 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Noémie says:

    I have been meaning to read the yarn whisperer for a while… Is it similar to the sutra of knitting??


  3. lissymail says:

    I haven’t read that one! Sounds like it might be similar, though; I’ll have to check it out!


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