I got totally sidetracked by the Jewish thing at the inlaws yesterday and forgot that I had this whole big lengthy post planned about the way that the yarn-oriented shelves at Barnes and Nobles are expanding. I went in looking for the Yarn Harlot's new book (alas, twas not to be found) and was quite shocked at how the knitting selection had grown since my last visit to the store. Used to be, maybe one shelf at this particular B&N. Now that is very much not the case. Shelves full of knitting books abound and there are gorgeous knitting book displays set up on tables. Knitting has obviously become the new big money as far as booksellers are concerned.
There is a whole genre of knitting literature now. I enjoy essays by other knitters and I own the KnitLit books. I love the Yarn Harlot's stuff. Knit humor makes me feel like I'm in the club and the essays often read like blogging, but edited by professionals and sized to fit in my knitting bag (which is handier than my laptop when I'm on the bus.) I noticed that slapping the words "new age" or "spiritual" or "meditate" on a book of knitting patterns appears to be a new way to get people to buy more knitting patterns. At $15+ for some of these slim volumes (rich in spiritually significant exposition, not a lot worth knitting) that's not bad marketing. There is a LOT of knitting for dogs, knitting for kids, knitting one skein wonders, knitting kitsch, knitting hip, knitting at the last minute, knitting on Saturday, knitting with odd balls, you can buy knitting romance novels, knitting mystery novels, there is a lot of stuff about knitting being put out on glossy paper at a premium price. Amazing. Boom. Here we are, we are a marketing force to be reckoned with, to be sold to.
I have a pretty simple gauge for whether or not I want to buy or make something. If it has no purpose, it is pointless. The decorative elements in my home all serve a purpose or have sentimental value/history. There's not a lot of random knickknackage going on and what there is has a point. Form plus function please. The next rule is just as simple. Now that we've established function, is the form pleasing to me? Applying those questions ruled out about half of the books on the shelf right off the bat. Many of the clothing pattern books were either full of patterns that are going to look really dated in six months or were trying too hard to be "hip". In others, the patterns were just plain pointless. Do I want a corsety looking neck collar or a wimple? No. Do I want an off the shoulder puff sleeve bolero with a huge felted rose in the middle of my chest? Not really. Between the puffy bolero up top and my ass in the middle, I'd look like a French Poodle. Imagine that in mohair. Seriously, not, you might not survive the imagining. I almost didn't. In the end, I was left with a rather small selection. So here ya go. What I came up with last night while I was killing time at B&N plus a few others off my Amazon list. Yarnpirate's opinions about books available about knitting that are maybe worth owning.
I was really impressed with some of the patterns in the new book by Fiona Ellis, Inspired Cable Knits. I love the cables, the shapes are modern, and I could see myself knitting at least three or four of the patterns out of this book as written, plus adapting some of her other cable patterns to use with different projects. Overall it'd more than justify the cost. I was also quite taken by Vintage Knits and I could definitely see several of the patterns in this offering by Sarah Dallas being quite useful in my wardrobe which was surprising because her other book didn't thrill me quite as much. Knit, of course, in black or grey or maybe a nice dark rich jewel tone that goes well with black. :-P The book showed a lot of pastels but once you get past the scary color, the lines are good. The Rowan book, also titled Vintage Knits is another that I'd like to get. I am on the fence about Alterknits which is to say, if I had an excess of cash, I might buy it but I could also leave it and have thus far. Erika Knight has a new one, Simple Knits for Little Cherubs that I'd like to get for the many babies in my life who are about to grow up to be toddlers. The stuff in there is classic and timeless. So there you go. 4 books, plus one maybe.
This stuff wasn't on the shelves last night, but strikes me as worth owning. Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman is on my list to buy, I want Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, there's two basic pattern books by Ann Budd, a couple of stitch treasuries, a book on Viking inspired cables and honestly? That's it for now. I'm sure there's other quality books out there, in fact I know there's a huge lot of them that I haven't listed, but that's where I'm at right now.
I'm not a knitting snob. I get teased about it and once I really pissed off a friend who got mad at me for not wanting to buy acrylic yarn. I wasn't snotty, I just wanted merino. I don't feel as if I am snobbish so much as thoughtful and aware of what I like. I like to do things well, I appreciate good tools and materials and I like things to last.
So what are your top knitting book picks in the vast sea of new knitting books to be had? Help me round out my wishlist. What do you think about knitting books and marketing these days? Please no felted wizard hats for dogs. I would have to come to your house and poke you with a pointy wooden stick until you repented.