Do you ever read cookbooks for enjoyment, not just the recipes? You know the ones, they talk about where food comes from, who invented specialties in recipes, the sense of place that food evokes, and sometimes a travelogue of far-away places.
I look for that in knitting books too, and here are several I’m especially fond of – the newer ones I’m still reading, but I’ll point you in their direction anyway. You can find them on the shelves at Sheep & Shawl.
In the Footsteps of Sheep, by Debbie Zawinski, is a wonderful specialized tour of Scotland in search of different breeds of sheep and enough of their bits of shed wool (along fence lines, blowing across the grass) to spin yarn and design and knit socks. She found 10 different breeds and includes patterns for 11 different socks. But the sense of place and love for her travels, often by foot and solitary, in all kinds of weather, meeting unusual folks along the way are enchanting. You may never knit socks, but you’ll enjoy reading this book.
KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, by Felicity Ford, aka Felix, is all about color in the UK as seen through her eyes in finding ways to incorporate the landscapes around her, as well as the daily objects she is drawn to by color and design and pattern, into the mesmerizing patterns of Fair Isle, also known as stranded colorwork, knitting. The beautiful photos may make you want to immediately start swatching in multi-colors. But you can also get happily lost in her enthusiasm for the daily beauty around her. She gives you her step-by-step directions and practical exercises if you want to follow her method, but she really wants to inspire you to find what makes you happy in the colors around you, and that’s definitely worth exploring.
Buachaille, by Kate Davies, is about her journey in developing her own yarn line, sourced from Scottish sheep and spun in an historic Yorkshire mill. She reflects on how the landscape influences the qualities of the fleece and named her yarn after one of her favorite West Highland mountains. The book is filled with evocative photos of that landscape, with Kate wearing her knitted creations (she is a designer of many knitting patterns). She is also an expert blogger, an academic and author in a former career. Her attention to detail, her inspired passion about the feel of the yarn, the quality of the light, the local food her husband cooks (here is a book where you get recipes as well as knitting patterns as well as a profound sense of place), are what make so many knitters follow her blog and her latest pattern release. The book is a treasure.