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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26 thoughts on “Q for You: What are your favorite knitting pattern books?

  1. One of the first pattern books I ever bought was this one, Rowan Winter Warmers – http://www.knitrowan.com/designs-and-patterns/brochures/winter-warmers. I have made SO MANY things out of this book – it helps that a lot of them use the same cable pattern over and over, so once you get the hang of it, you can whip up a hat, mitts, and legwarmers! The book is full of great gift ideas, like cushion covers, tea cozies, and bags, as well as hats, scarves, mitts, etc. Very versatile.

  2. super handy when you have an idea in your head for the perfect sweater but can’t find exactly what you want are Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Knitting Patterns–there’s ones that have socks and mittens and hats, sweaters, and top-down sweaters. You calculate your gauge for the yarn you want to use, and size you need, and she does the rest of the heavy lifting for you. I’ve made many a sweater for my kids using her books; they’re great. I also second the EZ books, always, and Norah Gaughan’s Knitting Nature, Lisa Lloyd’s A Fine Fleece, Fiona Ellis’s Inspired Cable Knits, and any of the “weekend” or “style” series from Interweave–Weekend Hats and Fair Isle Style are recent good ones.

  3. I do a lot of baby blankets and I have found that the Knitting Stitches Visual Encyclopedia is a great reference so that I can try out new stitch patterns. I love that I have it on my iPad in a digital form too. I’m making a blanket for a Christmas gift using a large herringbone stitch from the book. I’d definitely say add that one to your stitch library.

  4. Sally Melville’s The Knit Stitch, and The Purl Stitch … her early installments in teaching the craft, but with very wearable, timeless, patterns.

    Interestingly, I own, or have borrowed 3 out of four of Karen’s original list … we must be on to something!!

  5. Great question and I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s answers.
    I find myself returning to the “One Skein Wonders…” books again and again. The Knitter’s Book of Socks – gorgeous and informative. I order knitting books from the library as fast as I can find them (we have a great library system.) Once in a while I’ll find one I like well enough to buy. My huge hoard of patterns is from Ravelry… oh ya!

  6. This is a great Q&A! I have EZ’s Knitting without Tears and an older copy of Vogue Knitting that I use for technique more than patterns. At heart I am a sweater knitter and I highly recommned Wendy Bernard’s first Custom Knits book, Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City and Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter – great info about styling, fit and technique. Recently bought the Rhinebeck Sweater and have to say I’d knit just about everything in that book! Love both of Joelle Hoverson’s Last Minute books…and my latest find for babies is Vintage Knits for Modern Babies (my older daughter got married earlier this year and if we’re blessed with grandchildren, I’m going to knit EVERYthing in that book!)

  7. I love Clara Parkes’ books, and the 60 More Quick Baby Knits which I use to knit cute bear sweaters. Our guild dresses bears in hand knit garments which are given to the Georgia Center for Children Advocacy, a non-profit that interviews children that have been abused. The children are allowed to pick out a special bear after their interview. Whether you use this series of books to knit for babies or bears, the patterns are adorable. I know this is not a pattern book, but my copy of Fleece to Fiber Source book is my favorite bedtime reading.

  8. I’ll chime in with some more Clara Parkes love: The Knitter’s Book of Socks is amazing – I came to it as a fairly seasoned sock knitter and found both interesting (and wearable!) patterns as well as a wealth of information about fingering weight yarns. It’s excellent, as is The Knitter’s Book of Wool (which you mentioned).

    I second The Knitter’s Almanac by EZ, which was one of my first knitting books. I’ve also heard really, really good things about Ysolda’s Little Red in the City, which I don’t own, but always flip through when I see it stores.

    Other pattern books I love include Rachel Coopey’s Coop Knits Socks and Kate Davies’ Colour of Shetland. I totally second your desire for a copy of Fair Isle Style.

  9. Last year I added The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt to my reference library…it is the most comprehensive reference book that I have ever laid my eyes on…no patterns, but if you want to know how to do anything, and I mean anything, this is a must have. Including index, it is a whopping 712 pages long!
    My all time favorite pattern books are the Amimono series from Helga Isager, the earlier ones are out of print now, I love them in part for the simplicity of the designs and of course, the styling, I want to knit almost everything in every one of the publications. If only I had more time to knit!

  10. This is a great question, but a tough one. I happen to be a pattern-a-holic, so choosing favorites is tough. I love all things Rowan, Melanie Falick, Erika Knight, Leigh Radford, and anything put out by the people at Quince and Co. To name a few…

  11. So many nice books – I so have to start getting Pompom mag :)
    Being norwegian most of my favourite must-have knit books are Norwegain – it’s brilliant base books mixed with modern twist – actually one is avaliable in English in single PDF downloads from Pickles.no. Worth checking out. Else I’m similar to you, like to get my patterns on single PDFS (but have around 15 knitting books…and counting)

  12. By far and away my favourite knitting books are A Stitch In Time Volumes 1 and 2. Beautiful patterns and beautiful photography. Volume 2 is printed on lovely paper stock and could almost be a coffee table book. In my opinion, they’re must haves for anyone with even a passing interest in vintage knitting patterns.

  13. My favourite knitting books are A Stitch In Time Volumes 1 and 2. Both volumes have beautiful patterns and photographs and volume 2 is printed on nice heavy paper stock, making it almost a coffee table book. In my opinion, they’re must haves for any one with even a passing interest in vintage knitting patterns.

  14. The first Last Minute Knitted Gifts was the first knitting book I had that I used over and over. It’s still a favorite. Beverly Galeskas’ Felted Knits was a transformative book for me- introduced me to the magic of felting. I’m slowly collecting all the EZ books, but for the writing as much for the knitting patterns. I can appreciate them more now than when I was a beginner knitter.

  15. Wonderful! Thanks, all. I think, to start, the Knitting By Design and Last Minute Knitted Gifts are a holiday must-add. I can’t wait to read through more of these!

  16. I love this article! Regarding knitting books, I feel the same as you, it’s rare that I really love more than 2 or 3 patterns (except for Pompom mag) in patterns books. When I started to knit, I wanted patterns books so I bought 3 books of Kim Heargreaves from Rowan because I loved her designs but since, I’ve never knitted one ! So if you’re looking for useful nice knitting books, I definitely recommand Clara Parkles’s ones, I have “the Knitter book of yarn” (this woman make me fall in love with knitting and the whole knitting world), there are useful and it’s avery good knitting education. I really would like to buy her new one “Yarn whisperer” because I like also books about knitting but without patterns (yes really, like for instance the ones of Stephanie McFee, very funny).
    I didn’t know Pioneer, so it’s a great discovery. For technical books, I really recommend “Knit to flatter” from A.Herzog for people interested in “designing according to shape, and for people who love stories about the passion of knitting and patterns: “the Rhinebeck sweater” is a good choice: half stories, half designs of very great people (Thea Colman, Ysolda, Amy Herzog, MJ Mucklestone etc..). I hope this would help!

  17. Mason Dixon Knitting (the one with the orange and blue cover) – I have knit several things from this book, and also used it a lot for inspiration. Knitting Rules by the Yarn Harlot – covers the basics that allow you to start simple projects without having a specific pattern and/or allow you to understand how patterns for basics are put together. I also have a Barbara Walker stitch guide AND Knitting without Tears AND More Last Minute Knitted gifts – so I echo much of what others are saying!

  18. I love Vogue’s Stitchionaries – they have something like six now. They are great if you want to learn something or freewheel a panel of a pattern. I have found them immensely educational.
    As for Elizabeth Zimmerman – Don’t you just wish there was a giant EZ compendium out there? I have (and love) Knitting Without Tears and want one place where I can go for all her wisdom. Head my wishes, Dover Publications!

    Thanks for the rest of the suggestions – maybe something to mine for Christmas wishlisting.

  19. For incredible inspiration, I turn to Alice Starmore (I just blogged about receiving her Tudor Roses not too long ago). I generally recommend the Stitch N Bitch books to newer knitters—the information is excellent and the patterns are accessible (though for straight up knitting reference photos I have long deferred to DomiKNITrix, which sounds really really weird but the step-out photos in her book are excellent). I have yet to knit from it but I want to knit almost everything in Melissa Wehrle’s Metropolitan Knits.

  20. Pingback: Q for You: What’s your peak knitting experience? | Fringe Association

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