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09 January 2013 @ 11:57 am
Brief book reviews  
So far I've gotten to look through and evaluate two big comprehensive knitting reference books from the library, in the name of picking one or the other to buy: the Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook (1993 edition) by Montse Stanley, and Principles of Knitting (2012 edition) by June Hemmons Hiatt. I'm not 100% thrilled with either one.

Big problem with the Reader's Digest book: I don't always grok Stanley's diagrams. I looked at her descriptions of some kinds of increases and wasn't 100% sure what she was talking about, or how the diagram related to the text that referred to it.

Big problem with Principles of Knitting: Hiatt has decided that a lot of terminology commonly used by knitters is insufficiently precise (e.g. the term "front" can mean several different things when you're knitting a sweater) and so wrote the book using her own - admittedly precise! - terminology. I looked at her descriptions of some kinds of increases and wasn't 100% sure what she was talking about until I did a lot of cross-referencing. (This was another reason I'd dismissed Katharina Buss's book - it may be from lousy translation, since I think it was originally written in German, but things in the book weren't called what "everyone" calls them...) Possibly another big problem: the "big" problem. It's huge - nearly 700 slightly-oversized pages. Serious blunt force trauma potential. Do not drop on your toes. Also not something that can easily be tucked into your knitting bag. (eBook edition, anyone?)

The books are definitely aimed at different audiences - Stanley seems to aim more for the Ordinary Average Knitter, while Principles of Knitting could be used as a textbook for a college-level course in textiles. If I had to buy one of them today, it would probably be Principles - I'd rather have idiosyncratic terminology than unclear diagrams, and she also talks about around-the-neck tensioning as a thing rather than just mentioning that people do it that way in some parts of the world. Also, as noted by a Raveler - most of the stuff I'd be looking for in the Reader's Digest book can be found elsewhere, especially if I don't limit myself to dead-tree books, but there is nothing nearly as encyclopedic as Principles of Knitting.

I know there's a newer edition of Montse Stanley's book - I'm ordering it through Interlibrary Loan, in case the updated edition. (I love ILL. ILL is amazing.) Also, it turns out that the Ann Arbor library has a copy of the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Knitter's Handbook - just not on the shelf right now. It seems like a lot of these knitting references are in high demand, so I won't be able to continually renew any of the books...I'll just have to keep putting requests in, if I need to hang on to one for a while.