When I’m coming up with a new design, sometimes an idea pops wholesale into my brain. Sometimes I get a small idea that grows slowly over time. And sometimes… it’s like pulling teeth.
When I get stuck like that, there’s nothing better than pulling out my stitch treasuries for a little dose of inspiration.
I’ve got two books that are my particular favorites, and I’d like to share them with you.
First, I love Barbara Walker’s classic “Treasury of Knitting Patterns” collection. I got the first three books for Christmas couple years ago, and I use them all the time. Sometimes I’m looking for an idea for a nice all-over pattern, sometimes I need a particularly complex cable that I can’t figure out on my own. And sometime I just want to look at all the pretty knitting.
Unfortunately, these books are fairly old (the first one was originally published in the 60s), so some of the designs aren’t explained as clearly as I would like. And, almost all the designs are written out (except book 3, which is all about charted patterns), which drive me up the wall!
But, despite these small problems, I can’t recommend these books highly enough. If you haven’t taken a look at them already, swing by your library and pick one (or four) up. You’re sure to be inspired.
A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara WalkerMy other favorite knitting pattern treasury is a little different. Most noticibly, it doesn’t contain any English!
I found this treasury in the book section of my local Asian grocery store (Uwajimaya… If you ever visit Seattle, stop by, because it’s absolutely amazing). I was looking at Japanese craft books, because there’s something crazy soothing about the Japanese Craft Book aesthetic (when I look at them, I suddenly think that wearing beige smocks and headbands decorated with pompom critters seems like a really good idea).
Anyway, I found this book, and it’s densely packed from front to back with thickly-patterned knitting designs, some I’d never seen before. Crazy slipped stitches, wrapped stitches, and pompoms. Delicate lace, thick squishy cables, and gorgeous patterns that defy categorization.
Of course, since it’s not written in English, it’s a little tough to parse the patterns at first, but if you go slowly, there are plenty of diagrams explaining each symbol. And, since the book was published in the 80s, the color palette leans a little hard on the mauves and mustards.
But other than that, it’s the best! If you can find a copy at an Asian book store, definitely buy it (or just order it from Amazon).
Knitting Patterns 500 by Nihon Vogue ShaDo you have a favorite knitting reference book?
I love the Barbara Walker Treasuries – I have the first 3 and need to finish out my set. Before them, I used to flip through Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on The Edge series for ideas because it’s so well photographed & designed. I’ll have to check the international markets around here (northern VA/DC suburbs) for books; I’d never even thought to look there for knitting-related stuff!