February 14th, 2014

Adult Snow Day

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This snow sculpture entitled "Knitting Family Poems" was created for the 2007 Ottawa Winterlude National Snow Sculpture Competition by the Alberta team of Brian McArthur, Dawn Detarando and Will Truchon (it received the People’s Choice Award).

This snow sculpture entitled “Knitting Family Poems” was created for the 2007 Ottawa Winterlude National Snow Sculpture Competition by the Alberta team of Brian McArthur, Dawn Detarando and Will Truchon (it received the People’s Choice Award).

We had a Snow Day last week, when WEBS closed for the biggest snowstorm we’ve had since last year’s blizzard. It felt like an unexpected school vacation day, and since I’d gotten all my work obligations taken care of the day before, I gave myself permission to enjoy the day like a teenager. One of my most hedonistic pleasures is reading knitting reference books, so I had a wonderful few hours spent thumbing through my old classics as well as some recent contenders for BKF (Best Knitting Friend). I thought I’d share a few and see what some of your go-to answer books are.

A book that has saved my life again and again is the timeless The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. June came here about a year ago on a very snowy day, and the delight on the faces of those who were here and happened to meet her was infectious. She has a trick for every knitting conundrum you might find yourself in and her information is delivered with a dry wit that makes her sound like your favorite fifth-grade teacher.

A volume small enough to keep in my knitting bag is Margaret Radcliffe’s The Knitting Answer Book, which I turn to again and again. Even though the answers are short, they give you the most information in the fewest words, and the clever illustrations speak volumes. It’s a small book that is completely portable.

No collection should be complete without Barbara Walker and Elizabeth Zimmermann. Barbara Walker’s 4-book series of knitting pattern and charted stitch designs is used by literally every knitwear designer at some point in their career, and they are priceless for brevity and a sense of history. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s The Knitter’s Almanac and The Opinionated Knitter are the cornerstone of any knitter’s bookshelf.

Some recent favorites worth a look are Clara Parkes’ books The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, for the care and beautiful language she uses to describe fiber. Stitch ‘N Bitch by Debbie Stoller, the founder of Bust Magazine, almost single-handedly brought knitting to a new high over 10 years ago. And no knitter can really call themselves a knitter unless they have some Harlot on their nightstand.

What are your favorite fiber reads? Let us know in the comments what you like to page through on a snow day.

PS. This snow sculpture entitled “Knitting Family Poems” was created for the 2007 Ottawa Winterlude National Snow Sculpture Competition by the Alberta team of Brian McArthur, Dawn Detarando and Will Truchon (it received the People’s Choice Award).

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Amy G.

Education Manager at WEBS - America's Yarn Store
I've worked at WEBS (on and off) since 2003. I'm one of the employees that Steve and Kathy refer to as "The Hotel California" crew (you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave). I've been knitting for about 15 years, I also sew and am an avid yogi. I'm hoping that the better I become at yoga, the less problem I'll have with reading charts!
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  • Kelly H.

    You can’t ever make everybody happy, all of the time and I know this. I wanted to let you know that “no knitter can really call themselves a knitter unless they have ___” is a very exclusionary thing to say. I understand it is meant in jest but thought you should know how another read it.

  • c75bentley

    I find it endlessly amusing that you said “you can’t ever make everyone happy…” and then pointed out how something said in jest (basically) offended you. Lol. I haven’t read any of those books (I’m dyslexic…functional, but still), but I’ve successfully knit for three years–hats, scarves, shawls, socks, leg warmers, gloves, mittens, baby blankets, etc. I do not learn how to do something by reading, I learn by watching. Can’t begin to say how many times I’ve been told to read one of those books up there. I politely nod and carry on. :)

    All that said, loved the post – and maybe one day I’ll attempt to get through one of those books just to see what the fuss is about. :D