Dear friend, occupational therapist extraordinaire and fellow Pisces Molly asks:
What book might you recommend for me (literally 3 scarves total and I so far only know how to cast-on, do the knit stitch, and cast-off)?
We get asked this question a lot at Rosie's, and fortunately there are many good choices. Most pattern books today seem to devote a section in the front or back to basic instructions, so if you see a book with some designs you like, check to see if there's enough instruction in there for your purposes. You can also check out some of the web sites that offer knitting instruction, although the quality (particularly of the diagrams or photographs) varies. With a ten-second Google search, I came across the Craft Yarn Council's basic directions (though I think the diagrams aren't great); KnittingHelp offers on-line videos; Better Homes and Gardens if you can stand the pop-ups and other ads; and Lion Brand's website also contains directions.
Personally, I like having a book to learn from, and if the book also contains patterns and other helpful information, so much the better. Here's a few that I often recommend:
Kids' Knitting by Melanie Falick. Not just for kids.
Walks you through tools, winding yarn, casting on and so forth, and includes interesting information like how to dye yarn with Kool-Aid and tips for keeping track of your needles. Patterns start with very easy beanbags (you could easily make them larger and turn them into throw pillows), rectangular projects like scarves and afghans, then the book introduces skills like shaping, embroidery, knitting in the round, stitch patterns, felting and finishes with a simple roll-neck sweater. Lots of diagrams and photos, all in color.
How to Knit by Debbie Bliss. I still refer to this book (it just barely missed my top ten list for most helpful books) and I love the way it includes some lovely classic patterns as well as nice big drawings and a mini-stitch library. Beautiful photography, too. Organized in a workshop format, so that you can begin with the first skills and complete 1 or 2 projects in that chapter, then move on to the next topic and practice with the projects in that chapter, and so on.
The Knitting Experience: The Knit Stitch and The Purl Stitch, by Sally Melville. This is a two-book series, one which focuses only on the knit stitch, the second on the purl stitch. Buying two books to learn how to knit may be economically inefficient, but you will get a very thorough grounding from this one-two punch. I seem to encounter two schools of thought on this approach: one is that it's wonderful to not rush into the purl stitch and to be able to learn additional techniques and make attractive items quicker. The second is that it creates a mystique for the purl stitch that is hard to overcome, and why not just learn it and start practicing it right away already. You decide.
Stitch 'N Bitch, by Debbie Stoller.
This book has taught a lot of urban hipsters how to knit. It's a thick book, although unfortunately the majority of it is in black and white which detracts somewhat from the overall quality, making it harder to see clearly pattern details, charts, and diagrams. Thorough directions and extensive, somewhat trendy pattern section aimed at twenty-somethings. If you flinch at cuss words, then this sassy-talking book may not be the one for you. But there's a lot of info packed in its pages and for about $13.95, it's good value.
First Knits by Kate Haxell and Luise Roberts. I don't own this one, but I've heard it's pretty good. I've seen photos of some of the projects, like this shawl
and this bag
which look quite nice, especially for newbie projects. Worth taking a look.
I hope that helps, Mol.