Sunday, December 31, 2006

Retrospective: Best Books of 2006

Here they are, in no particular order, condensed to keep my list down to around ten. Okay, eleven. Thank God for books that expand our knitting horizons, look at more advanced stitch patterns and techniques, pay attention to style and fit, and/or inspire us with their bold use of color and design.

1. Arctic Lace, containing lots of detailed info about Arctic culture and knitting, all you ever wanted to know about qiviut (except I still can't spell it), plus some nice lace patterns.

2. Victorian Lace Today, with patterns that are adapted from vintage ones as opposed to being "original," but are still lovely and lace. Let's just keep our fingers crossed XRX's latest isn't filled with technical errors. (It's been known to happen before...)

3. Glorious color and design inspiration. First, Brandon Mably's Knitting with Color, part travelogue, part knitting patterns, all inspirational.

4. .....second (this is chronological order), Knits from a Painter's Palette: Modular Masterpieces in Handpainted Yarns (a.k.a. The Koigu Book). Just seeing beautiful color photos of Koigu and projects knit in Koigu is enough to start me drooling. Be forewarned: the shawl patterns are repeats, there are lots of modular garments and most of the patterns are boxy, but for me, this is a treat to flip through. True yarn porn.

5. Big Girl Knits: Even if you don't like all the patterns (and c'mon, how can you not like the mitten/gloves pattern with four variations in a versatile DK weight, by an up-and-coming designer with an excellent blog), and even if the word "boobies" irks you, the first half of the book is worth its weight in gold for the tips on fit, particularly for plus-sized women.

6. Stitch Dictionaries and suchlike: Knitting Beyond the Edge/Vogue Stitchionary vols 2 & 3. You can't go wrong with stitch dictionaries, and even if you feel you have all or most of the patterns contained therein, the fact that there is a publisher willing to put out this stuff should help newer knitters become more creative and less cookie-cutter.

7 & 8. Cornucopia of cables: Cables Untangled, and Inspired Cable Knits. More patterns that aren't dumbed down and feature intricate and lovely cabling. Untangled also contains a nice mini-cable stitch dictionary and lots of instructional content. Plus, some of the designs in both books DON'T HAVE DROP SHOULDERS!

9. Modern Classics. Exactly what the title promises: classic designs you can make over and over, but with more contemporary styling. Handily organized by yarn weight, with good size ranges and variations within a pattern. Not revolutionary or cutting edge, but damn, it's handy.

10. Andean Folk Knits, by Marcia Lewandowski. Lots of ethnic stranded knitting.

11. Knitting Nature. Creative, interesting, pushing the boundaries.

UPDATE: Thanks to Marilyn for suggesting Janet Szabo's Aran book, and to Kate for pointing out that the older self-published copy with a similar title is NOT in fact, identical. Kate has both and says she will keep both. I stand corrected and I thank you both for pointing this out. I'll have to find a copy of the new one.

There were other good books published this past year, so don't be offended if your favorite didn't make the list: just tell us what it is and why you like it in the comments.

And a happy, healthy and safe New Year's to all my readers. I truly appreciate your support throughout the past year!


Anonymous said...

Please quit talking about Maie's book when I don't have one yet.
I even have a gift cert for B&N, for jaysis sake.

Carol said...

Ahem. Well, what's stopping you?

Anonymous said...

I second that emotion (thank you smokey robinson) on #5. it's the first time I have purchased a book written just for ME!

happy new year 2007 to you, carol! I look forward to more inspired and sarcastic sentences in the coming months.

KarenK said...

About Number 2 on your list, it's called "Victorian Lace Today" - and there's already a knit-along, and a yahoo group, as well as an ever-growing errata page posted on the XRX website.


Yahoo group:

Errata page:

That's my favorite book for this year.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree on pretty much your selections, perhaps not with the Koigu book, though. Unfortunately, I have yet to add any of them to my library. But I will.

I think, even sight unseen, that Janet Szabo's book on Aran design should be added. She's damned good and it's a book that's been sorely needed. Now I need it, sorely.

Carol said...

Mar, correct me if I'm wrong, but that's not a new book. I bought a copy of it in a self-published form about 2 years ago, or more, either at Stitches or at Maryland. Not to take away from it at all, mind you.

p.s. I had to search on Amazon for publication dates since my sense of time is so skewed I kept thinking books from 2005 were from 2006! I was convinced Sensational Socks was released in 2006 but it was 2005.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all your choices! Now I just have to go buy them for myself.

mindy said...

Great list- I obviously need more books. Trouble is, I have no will power when it comes to a certain Etsy Shop...
Safe and Happy New Year to you all!

Leanne said...

I have purchased two of the books on your list (Big Girl Knits and Knitting Nature) and love them both. Victorian Knitting Today is on my "to buy" list (I leafed through a friend's copy - I so need that book!). I will certainly check out some of the others you have mentioned from the library.

Thanks for the list!

Anonymous said...

Aran Sweater Design by Janet Szabo is not the same book as Handbook of Aran Sweater Design. ASD is 171 pages, plus Index, vs. 90 pages for HASD. While ASD began as a revision and updating of HASD, it has more
patterns and more explanatory text than the original, as well as better production values. I own them both, and will keep both.