Are Knitting Books Now Obsolete?

As a writer and lifelong bookworm, I love finding a new knitting book, newly published and on display in the bookstore. But lately, I’m finding myself less and less enthusiastic about newly published collections of knitting patterns, even if they are beautifully designed hardbacks with full color illustrations and photos. Nice to look at, but…?

As some of you know, I often have the special treat of reviewing brand new books digitally, well before they hit the market. In reviewing new knitting books, I’m seeing a trend that makes my eyes glaze over. Many – if not all – of these new knitting books assume I’ve never picked up a pair of knitting needles in my life. These books offer voluminous tips on how to get started, what tools I need, how to choose yarn, and even how to make the most basic of stitches. Lord knows I’ve covered that territory umpteen times before. 

So when I eagerly pick up a new knitting book, I inevitably skip large chunks of introductory material and skip straight to the new patterns. The patterns are usually fine; but do I want to buy an entire book just for a few patterns?

In the meantime, a plethora of interesting and innovative patterns are now available on multiple platforms for just a few bucks a piece. Why buy a book of info you don’t need, when you can buy only what you want for much less? 

And as for instructions on how to knit, it’s all about video these days. I rarely figure out a new stitch from two-dimensional illustrations on paper. But show me a quick video, and I’ve got it under my belt in no time.

I’m going to make a pronouncement (because it’s my blog and I can): Knitting instruction books are obsolete. If you want to learn how to knit, do a search and find a video. If you want a pattern, check out Ravelry, Etsy, or who knows what other platforms are out there in cyberspace. 

I love books, but time and innovation move forward. 

Happy Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. 

Copyright 2022 Cynthia Coe

Legal Disclosures: I provide links to products (including books I have written), and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (which means I may get a very small fee if you click through the link and buy something).

New Knitting Books for Summer 2019

Greetings, Knitters! I hope you are having a wonderful summer (or winter, for friends Down Under) and getting in some good knitting time. 

Do you get patterns from knitting books? Personally, I get my patterns from a variety of sources – online patterns sold individually, magazines I pick up in the grocery store, and a handful of go-to and much used knitting books. I know online patterns bought digitally from Ravelry, Etsy, or other websites are all the rage, but believe or not, some good knitting pattern books are still being published (and you can keep them all in one place on your bookshelf).

Sycamore Cove Knitting reviews the new ones in advance of publication and gives you the scoop on what’s new and worthwhile. Here’s what new and just published in knitting books for June-July 2019:

Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits by Barbara Benson. A very nice pattern book for the coming cool weather season. The concept of this book is lace knitting with larger sized needles and bulkier weights. The results? Quicker projects with more intricate, showier designs than you normally see with bulky yarns.

The Art of Circular Yokes by Kerry Bogert. This book of yoke sweater patterns give the advanced knitter plenty to sink her teeth into. The designs are lovely and intricate. Most of them are designed for small needles and fairly fine yarn. These are projects that will take a lot of skill, time, and concentration.

 One Stitch Baby Knits by Val Pierce. This is a nice collection of baby knit patterns. They are intended as “beginner” level patterns, but I would rate them as more “advanced beginner” or even “intermediate” level patterns. This is by a British knitting expert, and I appreciate that she took the trouble to translate some of the British knitting terms into American English. However, many of the yarns listed are those available in Britain; I only recognized one yarn readily available in the U.S.

 A Year of Creativity by Petra Hoeksema, Lidy Nooij, Miriam Catshoek, and Bregje Konings. This books is all about “craft dates” for knitters and other crafty people. The idea is to get friends together, share some snacks, have fun, and everybody makes a craft together. I quite like this idea, and it’s a beautiful book. Coming July 23.

And now time for the shameless plug:

The Prayer Shawl Chronicles by Cynthia Coe: Set in an Episcopal parish in Tennessee, hear the stories of women who knit and donate prayer shawls and the remarkable and remarkable connections with those who receive them. A fairly quick read of short stories, this book is great for taking along on vacation.

Enjoy your Summer Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles: Stories of Unlikely Connections & Unexpected Gifts. Available worldwide exclusively on Amazon and included in Kindle Unlimited. Paperback edition coming very soon.

Knitting & Cats Don’t Mix – Or Do They?

 Sitting down for a nice, calming session of knitting, and who turns up to “help”? The cat, of course. When my cats Scamper and Milo see me sit down in my favorite chair with a wooly skein of yarn beside me, to them, it’s an invitation to play. 

Knitting with cats is both the most wonderful thing in the world and the most annoying. A soft, furry creature with big yellow eyes plops down on your lap and purrs right as you take out your knitting needles. What a knitter to do? You want to knit, but you don’t want to run off the cutie pie sitting on your work-in-progress, either. Eventually, the cat gets exasperated by those sharp sticks waved in front of his face, and he moves along. Or you push him.

A ball of yarn is the ultimate temptation to cause mischief for a cat. My cats usually know not to mess with my knitting yarn, fearing an almighty tongue-lashing that comes with batting around a yarn ball attached to a sweater under construction. But sometimes, a cat just needs to play with what is obviously a toy provided for a cat’s pleasure. Occasionally, I let the cat play…until the ball of yarn is roped around six pieces of furniture and knotted into a mess requiring a half hour of untangling. Then it’s time to “re-think” my policy of cats and yarn.

The problem with cats and knitting is that many of us seriously love them both. Both are warm, fuzzy, and lovely to look at. Both knitting and cats require attention from our hearts and our hands. Cat People are often Knitting People. And in those moments when the two clash and chaos breaks out, I hope we’ll remember that really, what’s a little frayed yarn and knots when you have the pleasure of seeing a cute little kitten batting about a “just right” ball of yarn?

Blessings on your cats (and yarn), Cindy

New Resources of the Week:

Knitted Animal Friends: Knit 12 Well-Dressed Animals, Their Clothes and Accessories by Louise Crowther. This charming new book tells you how to knit and construct adorable animal toys. There’s a cat pattern, of course, along with other critters including a dog, mouse, hedgehog, and clothes for all of them. Perfect for making gifts for children or for trying something new and fun. Coming on May 7, available for pre-order at a good discount

Jill’s Beaded Knits Bitshas some new Abacus Counting Bracelets, along with some cute new stitch markers. She handmakes her products and ships them out pronto. I recently treated myself to some new stitch markers, but I’ve not tried the abacus counting bracelets yet. I’d love to hear from anyone who has.

P.S. This blog is completely independent! I recommend books and other items I’ve read/used and like. Books are usually provided to me free through NetGalley and their publishers. 

Knitting in Public

Knitting in public cures a host of social awkwardness ills. If you’re waiting for a plane, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or just find yourself in a place with nothing much to do, knitting fills the gap. 

This morning, I found myself in one of these places, waiting as my son got his hair cut. I hadn’t had my morning quiet time yet, so I pulled out my small on-the-go knitting project out of my tote bag and got a few rows in while I waited. But looking around me as I waited, I noticed something different.

Usually, when I knit in public, at least a couple of people will come up to me and strike up a conversation.  “What are you making?” they usually ask. “I’d love to learn to knit,” they occasionally say. Or maybe they wistfully remember a mom or grandmother who used to knit.

But this morning, no one said a word. They all focused solely on their phones. I felt like I was the only one in the waiting area truly getting “me time.”

Hoping you’re getting some knitting “me time” today! Cindy

Just published! 

Coffehouse Knits: Knitting Patterns and Essays with Robust Flavor, edited by Kerry Bogert. Classic sweaters, cowls, shawls, socks, and even a nice pair of cozy mittens. This book has a nice collection of patterns plus several essays on knitting and community. The authors evoke a warm coffeehouse oozing with friendship and wooly knitting projects. This would be a nice gift book for the knitters in your life. On sale in hardback for about $18; Kindle for about $15

Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting by Ella Austin. Everything you could possibly need to know about colorwork knitting. Numerous techniques and projects included. The website on Amazon has a nice preview of the book. Available in paperback and Kindle and on sale for about $18 paperback and $14 Kindle.

It’s Color that Gives Knitwork Star Quality

It’s all in the color, I often tell people who admire my knitting. 

I’m a “process knitter,” I’ll admit. I like fairly simple, easy-to-remember patterns. I like to sit and let my mind go vacant as I concentrate on nothing but whether I need to knit or purl the next row. It’s my “me time.” It’s my meditative time.

But I get bored with simple stockinette or garter stitches for inches on end. Even as I zone out, I need a sense of change. I get a sense of accomplishment from finishing a section of one color and moving on to the next.

With the many self-striping and variegated yarns now available, it’s easy to give your otherwise plain, straightforward stockinette pops of color that make you look like a star. People who don’t knit will think you’re over-the-top talented if you display a knitwork with lots of intricate color. People will think you’re a genius if you add a few rows of yarn-overs to make a lacey pattern along with the colorwork knitting.

Colors give us a sense of accomplishment, give depth to our work – often without even changing skeins.

Several new books on colorwork in knitting have recently come out! Be sure to check them out:

Gradient Style: Color-Shifting Techniques & Knitting Patterns, edited by Kerry Bogert (Interweave): Specifically for knitters, this book helps crafters take advantage of the wide range of gradient colored yarn sets currently on the market. Some basics of using the color wheel are included in the introduction, followed by a good number of projects patterns using gradient colors: socks, sweaters, shawls, and mittens. The editor wisely advises knitters to go to the yarn shop and physically mix and match colors for new projects, rather than simply buying materials online. This book is great for anyone who wants to give their flat knitting some kick by using gradient color combinations. Currently on sale, in paperback and Kindle

Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting by Ella Austin. Despite the title, this book would best be used by advanced beginners or intermediate knitters. The photographs do an excellent job of showing exactly what is meant by each color work technique, but I think you would have to go to YouTube videos to be able to actually learn these techniques. If you are comfortable working with charts, this is the book for you. Just Published! Available in paperback and Kindle on March 19, 2019.

Love Color: Choosing Colors to Live Withby Anna Starmer: This gorgeous book by a color expert gives you lots of excellent ideas for choosing color schemes. I appreciated that the author urges readers to start with items of sentimental significance in creating color design choices. Many palettes are featured in the book, with tips on contrasting colors, working with textures, and use of lighting. The author does a great job of bolstering readers’ confidence in making bolder uses of color and incorporating colors that simply put them in a good mood. Available in hardback and Kindlefor less than $20.

Happy Colorwork Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is an avid knitter and author. Check out her books on her Amazon Author Page for more information.