Winter knitting warms the heart

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My favorite thing to do on these cold, rainy winter days is to curl up on the sofa, sip hot chocolate and knit. My thirst for new projects is large, but my budget is small, and that’s where the library comes in. I save money by checking books out instead of buying them. I can photocopy the patterns or scan them onto my computer (perfectly legal as long as I don’t publish or sell them), so I still have the patterns even after I return the book.

When I first started knitting, I made things straight from the patterns, but once I began to understand more about what I was doing, I wanted to improvise. I also got bored with two dimensions and started knitting stuffed animals, cupcakes and other odd things not normally associated with knitting.

Following is a list of my favorite knitting books to get your creative juices flowing, all of which can be found at the Los Altos Library.

• “Stitch ’N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook” (Workman Publishing, 2000) by Debbie Stoller: This is the book that taught me to knit. It’s full of instructive-but-edgy patterns like hats with kitty ears and a Wonder Woman bikini. You can learn a new skill or two with each pattern, so it’s perfect for beginners.

• “Last-Minute Knitted Gifts” (STC Craft, 2004) by Joelle Hoverson: Divided by how long each project should take to complete, this book features lovely, simple items that can be easily customized. My favorite pattern is Kim’s Hats, a basic hat template with several suggested modifications and in a variety of sizes.

• “Vogue Knitting Stitchionary: Volume 1, Knit & Purl” (Sixth&Spring, 2005) by the editors of Vogue Knitting: A “stitchionary” is a dictionary of stitch patterns. You can apply these patterns to any knitted item you want to make a little more interesting. There are several volumes in this series, but this one is my favorite.

• “Knitting on the Edge: Ribs, Ruffles, Lace, Fringes, Floral, Points & Picots” (Sixth&Spring, 2004) by Nicky Epstein: The subtitle says it all. This is the ideal companion to a stitchionary if you’re looking to customize or jazz up your knitting.

The series by the same author continues with “Knitting Over the Edge: Unique Ribs, Cords, Appliques, Colors Nouveau” (Sixth&Spring, 2005) and “Knitting Beyond the Edge: Cuffs & Collars, Necklines, Corners & Edges, Closures” (Sixth&Spring, 2006).

• “Knitting Mochimochi: 20 Super-Cute Strange Designs for Knitted Amigurumi” (Potter Craft, 2010) by Anna Hrachovec: This one is right up my alley. From “Pigs with Wigs” to “Squirrels on Wheels,” Hrachovec’s imagination knows no bounds. There is also a handy section on designing your own toys.

• “75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit and Crochet” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011) by Lesley Stanfield: These adorable little critters are great on their own, but they can also be used to adorn hats, gloves, scarves, headbands, shoes – the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

If you’re a knitter with some extra yarn and extra time (we’ll provide the hot chocolate), join us 3-5 p.m. Thursday at the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, for a charity knit-in. We’ll be making items for soldiers on active duty, wounded veterans and Afghan families. Crocheters, you’re welcome, also.

Shoshana Francis is adult services librarian at the Los Altos Library. For more information, call 948-7683 or visit

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