Two blog posts back I started my post with a stock image of a desk and computer. I thought I was so slick, choosing a pretty minimalist desk with a computer, a tea cup, some beautiful white tulips, a notebook, and a chair with a knitted throw over the back. Pretty? Yes. Me? Well…probably not.
I heard from a number of you after I posted it with comments along the lines of this one from my pal Sally: “I was a little surprised by your desk — I was expecting something more in line with the old Victorian house you live in!!” That’ll teach me to use a stock photo, no matter how beautiful it looks!
So no, that’s not my desk. My desk certainly is more in keeping with my eclectic, colorful, cluttered Victorian house. In fact my actual desk is unusable because its surface is totally covered with books, as are all the flat surfaces in the room we call the study, which started out with tons of book shelves and 2 desks (one for my fellow book addict also known as my husband, and one for me).
The study now has no place at which one could possibly sit and study, but it does have many things to study, namely books on every possible subject covering every possible surface. My current “desk” if it can be called that, is the end table next to my end of the couch where I sit and work most days.
My current “desk” next to me as I type this
I have always had an addiction to books that equals my addiction to yarn and all things knitting. I have many childhood memories of curling up with books – in window seats, on couches, in bed both sick and well, in the big green chair in my childhood living room, in the backyard, on the front stoop. Some of my favorite memories are of having some money in my pocket from my birthday or Christmas, and going to one of the many book stores near and dear to my heart at different times in my life, and buying great stacks of paperback books to read (and smell, and clasp to my chest in moments of overwhelming book joy). Memories of things I learned, places I traveled to inside a book, people I met, friends I made, tears of joy or sadness I shed on the pages I turned. Memories of libraries – my neighborhood libraries growing up in NYC, the one near my grandparents house in central NY State, at my schools – especially the school I attended from 5th grade through high school, watched over lovingly by the incomparable Annie Bosworth who let me work as her assistant starting at age 10 putting those shiny slick covers over the book jackets as new acquisitions came in, and thus allowing me first dibs on checking out the new arrivals as they were cataloged in.
Reading in my childhood living room at about 14 in 1970
I’m not very good at getting rid of books either (that may be a bit of an understatement). When DH and I moved in together back in 1987 we had an entire wall in our living room devoted to bookshelves, which were so full that we had to negotiate a thinning of the herd that was fair to us both. I remember with regret every one of the books that I decided to let go of on that wintery evening. But true love conquers all and makes sacrifices easier.
We have passed this addiction on to our daughter. When she was in third grade she was given a homework assignment to count something in her home. When she turned in her assignment her father and I quickly heard from her teacher who was concerned that she was “telling tall tales”. Concerned, we went to the parent teacher meeting only to discover that these “tall tales ” were the homework she turned in in response to this assignment. She had chosen to count her favorite thing: the books in her room. Since she had never divested herself of any of the books she had owned in her 9 years of reading and being read to, the total she turned in was a very large number. “Clearly,” the teacher said, “this is not the truth. No one could have this many books in their entire house, not to mention in their room.” Ummm…except that this was true. All the board book, the picture books, the early readers, the first chapter books (not to mention the longer chapter books we read together at bed time) – they totaled that enormous number. I knew because I had watched her count them. And it didn’t count the children’s books that my husband and I still had from our childhoods, and which she read regularly although they didn’t live in her room.
All of this is to say I LOVE books, and I talk about them a lot. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me well that there is a section in my newsletter where I talk about what I am reading. Since this blog is called Adventures in Knitting and Design it will probably need to be generally about non-fiction books that fall into those categories (or at least I’ll try to keep it on topic – I promise nothing!), but if you are interested in knowing about the fiction and other types of non-fiction books I am reading and thinking about do subscribe to my newsletter and see what I’m recommending there.
OK! So to get this back on topic (not my strong suit as you probably know if you follow me at all) let’s start with the basics. It is impossible to limit my lists to such small numbers, so this is just a beginning, with lots more to come.
5 books every knitter should read:
The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt
Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann
The Knowledgeable Knitter – Margaret Radcliffe
The Knitters Handbook – Montse Stanley
Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book – Mary Thomas
Bonus suggestions: Finishing School: A Master Class For Knitters by Deborah Newton, and Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti
5 books every aspiring knitting designer should read (after having read the above books while becoming the experienced and fearless knitter they need to be to step into the designing arena):
Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti
Knitting From the Top by Barbara Walker
Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton
Knitting in the Old Way – Pricilla A. Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson
Knitting Workshop – Elizabeth Zimmermann
Bonus suggestions: I can hear some designers expressing outrage that Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop isn’t there. You’re right it should be, along with the book she acknowledges as inspiring her system – Sweater 101 by Cheryl Brunette
Did you notice that my lists of 5 contain more than 5 books each? Want to know how totally book crazy I am; how addicted, besotted, and totally nuts? I found it nearly impossible to even create a list of books in any one category that stopped at anywhere near 5. My first draft had 25 design books and 17 basic knitting books. Sigh…clearly we will need more posts on this subject (umm…or at least I need them). Coming in future blog posts, interspersed with other thoughts and ramblings, will be more on knitting books, alongside posts on other related types of book – stitch dictionaries, grading, design, inspiration, lace knitting and design, the history of knitting, the history of fashion and costume, millinery…I could go on and on, but you get my drift, and saw the photos above. I promise none of the book photos above are stock photos; they are all too real. I loves me some books!
Lastly, I want some input – I want these ramblings to be interesting to both the knitters who are interested in my patterns, and to the designers that I work with and mentor, so let me hear from you about what interests you. I tend to write about my life a lot, but if there are specific things you would be interested in hearing about please drop me a line (you can just hit reply on my newsletter and it will get right to me) or comment below.
So until next time – go read a book! I’ll be back soon.
P.S. – The winner of the Ambah O’Brein Songlines Collection eBook in my last blog post was Anni aka Shadow9cat on Ravelry. Congratulations Anni!