Oooh, am I excited about this?…yes indeed. I treated myself to a few new books while I was browsing at the fabric store the other day. They are Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Knitting and Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet.

I’ve done a teeny bit of crochet before, and didn’t automatically fall in love with it, but these two books are really inspiring me. (These photos show my progress so far…I’m practicing with some electronic wire for a new sculpture project.) Both of these books also discuss varying supplies to use with the techniques, including non-yarn-shaped things like ribbon.

wire knitting 1Of course, the instructional chapters are fairly extensive for such a large book. If you already know the basic knit and purl stitches, you won’t feel too lost in the avalanche of stitch illustrations. (If you are just learning, I recommend trying the Learn-to-Knit instructions from Lion brand yarn first. Maybe I’m biased because that little booklet IS how I first learned to knit, but the language just seems so much clearer, and the visual are very detailed. Then once you “get it,” it’s easier to understand the needle positions that they describe in these books.) The encyclopedias have gobs of advanced techniques and stitches, and it makes me anxious to become better at the basics so I can try them. The last chunk of both of these books is a “pattern gallery”, which is essentially a collection of photographs of many many samples of possible visual patterns that you can achieve, and the recipes for making each one. I’ll be referring to it a lot.

The sample projects in the last half of the books aren’t on the cutting edge of fashion or anything, but there are a few that I will probably try, because the project photos are very beautiful. If you ask me, the knitting encyclopedia has better and more versatile sample projects (baby booties, two types of hats–with felting options/instructions, a dog sweater pattern, a nice women’s shirt, decent simple pullover, etc). The crochet encyclopedia has a lot of smaller projects, and not much in the way of wearables except for some decent designs for necklaces and beaded purses. (Maybe the colors chosen for the projects just makes the photos of the crochet items look bland…I dunno.) There are a lot of crochet patterns for lacy scarves and that sort of thing, which I probably wont use, but like I said, the pattern gallery makes up for the lack of high-fashion projects. They are, after all, encyclopedias for reference…not Hollywood trend magazines.

They are both very large, very hefty books, and a good value even if you get stuck with the full sticker price (which isn’t likely, as they are on sale lots of places right now).