top ten cable knitsI have an extensive knitting-reference library … my dh thinks it’s TOO big (… like you could ever have TOO many books …). I am pretty careful of the ones for which I pay hard-cash and all the books on my shelves are ones I actually use.

The following list is the ones I feel are so good as to warrant being honored by the title “top ten books”. These books are all good, so I’ve listed them alphabetically by author rather than hierarchically:

  • Chin, Lily – Power Cables: the ultimate guide to knitting inventive cables (Interweave Press, Loveland, CO 2010). Chin, always innovative and creative, pens a book that teaches unique structural stitch-work that creates cabled items that are just over the edge. This is an amazing sourcebook for exploring beyond the traditonal.
  • Compton, Rae – The Complete Book of Traditoinal Knitting is finally back in print from Dover Books (Mineola, NY – 2010). Similar to Thompson’s book (see below), Compton’s book is big on history and traditional methods of creating classic garments in the Aran and Fair Isle traditions. Mostly a stitchionary (rather than a pattern book), Compton’s book is a great companion to Thompson’s book.
  • Leapman, Melissa – Cables Untangled: an exploration of cable knitting (2006) and Continuous Cables: an exploration of knitted cabled knots, rings, swirls, and curlicues (2008). Both published by Potter Craft, New York, these books walk the knitter through a full understanding of cable knitting – from understanding what happens to the fabric with the twists and turns through to designing your own cables that “invisibly” start and end. Packed with projects to exercise these new-found skills, these two books are fabulous for further exploration of cabled knits.
  • Starmore, Alice – Aran Knitting: new and expanded edition. Reprinted in 2010, this book takes the reader through the history of the cabling specific to the Aran Islands, a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland. Starmore brings her unique sense of detailed design to these projects with lots of interesting bits of trivia all about cabling in knitting. This book debunks quite a few of the myths and legends behind Aran knitting.
  • Szabo, Janet – Aran Sweater Design (2006) and Cables Volume 1: The Basics. (2007) Both published by Big Sky Knitting Designs, (Kalispel, MT). Szabo’s books are excellent beginner’s guides to all things cabled. With clear black/white photos, charts and words, Szabo’s self-published book is an encyclopedic look at cable stitches and how to work them. A now-on-hiatus knitwear designer, Szabo published a newsletter all about cabling titled Twists & Turns – check her website ( for back issues.
  • Thompson, Gladys – Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans: fishermen’s sweaters from the British Isles. A classic book from Dover Books knitting collection, this book has been published consistently since 1971 (I have my original copy from the early ‘80s). Packed with historical facts and photos, Thompson’s book takes the knitter on a journey of discovering and knitting traditional fishermen’s sweaters. This is more a designer’s book than a follow the directions to the letter type of book – the projects assume knitting knowledge and understanding of sweater design and workings of cables. This makes a great companion book to Compton’s book mentioned above. But if you want to make a true classic, this is the book you want to use.
  • and two “stitchionaries”, books that are contains different stitch patterns for you to create your own designs. These are the best of the encyclopedic:

  • Knight, Erika – Harmony Guides: Cables and Aran. (Interweave Press, Loveland, CO – 2007). Over 250 stitches defined in this stitchionary. For some reason, not all the stitches are charted but this is still a definitive resource book for creating cabled knits.
  • Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Two: Cables. (Vogue Knitting, New York – 2012). Packed with over 200 stitch patterns, charted and written, from the very basic to the non-traditional. Excellent resource for crafting your own designs.
  • What would your top ten list be?sig block

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