Book Review:: The Principles of Knitting

Quick question: Are you a Knitting Missionary, Sensei, Scientist, Organic, or Pretender? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, get yourself a copy of The Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Rules! and read the first chapter immediately. It’s funny and all a little bit true. If you know you are a Sensei, or would like to be a Sensei, then read on. If not, this will be interesting to you as a knitter anyway.

At Stash we recently received our copies of The Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt.  In the beginning, I was skeptical. (This is a sign of my ignorance, which has been remedied. Let me apologize now.) My first impression was: “This book is huge, heavy, reads like a text-book and costs twice as much as the rest of the books we carry. Who is going to want this?”.

Man did I have it sooooo wrong, especially since I am such a wannabe knitting Sensei. (For those of you still wondering what a Sensei is, it is a knitter that always seems to know or wants to know the many various ways to do things in knitting, i.e. ask a Sensei how to do a button-hole and they will give you 5 different ways to do it.) This book is the knitting bible and if I ever want to fulfill my aspirations of knowing all there is to know about knitting (I’ve always been told to aim high), I need this book, like yesterday.

First, some quick history: the book was originally published in 1988 and went out of print in the late 90’s.*  It was the most comprehensive knitting book out there (500 pages!), with the premise being that all available information on a technique would be presented and the knitter would decide which method they wanted to use.  With such valuable information at stake, out of print copies of Principles of Knitting would sell on eBay for upwards of $400 and they were very hard to find.

Back to now: the book has been completely revised, with every chapter reviewed and updated, and some chapters even expanded on and made longer than the original. It still reads like a textbook, but I find this be a plus in a book that is dedicated to techniques and the hows and whys behind each one. The book itself is also more readily available and there are no plans to let it go out of print again (thank goodness). As for the price tag? Well a comprehensive reference book may not be what you’re looking for, but if you are, what’s a mere $45 compared to $400?!

Principles of Knitting is a must-have for the serious knitter’s library.  Sure, it might be easier to Google “short row heel” or “how to knit a buttonhole”, but it’s an asset to have a pre-vetted source of technical information at your fingertips.  This book is also a little piece of the collective History of Knitting, and that is priceless.  All of us at Stash know this will be a go-to book for countless knitting questions and quandaries.

What are some of your favorite technical resources?

* The publisher actually destroyed the plates so June Hemmons Hiatt had to type the whole thing over again. All 350,000 words. Crazy.

~ By Stash Enhancer Cinnamon



Filed under Books/Patterns, Knitting, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Book Review:: The Principles of Knitting

  1. Thanks for a great review! I had wondered exactly what all the fuss was about regarding this book, and now I don’t have to look silly asking!

  2. Pingback: Yarn Along: My Double « Vivere Nel Colore

  3. Pingback: » A short discussion about increases… | The Yarn Spot

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