No amount of mockery can make me not love coffee table books. If there really were a coffee table book that turned into a coffee table, I’d be sorely tempted. And if I jenga’d up all the illustrated tomes I possess, surely it would make a functional surface for serving beverages.
Illustrated books make good gifts. Super classy—always a consideration—and the choice of subject can be tailored to the interests of the recipient in a way that other gifts cannot. Perfect for the brother-in-law with an interest in 20th century photography or sailboats. (I have one of each.) Almost every interest has a chunky coffee-table book about it. (One year I got a child a photo catalog of every personal computer/gameboy/palm pilot ever, in an effort to stop him buying them on eBay.)
This month, with gift-giving in mind, we present a small collection of art books that will appeal to knitters, however tangentially. Some of them are new, but all of them are noteworthy.
Why art books for knitters? I’d be interested to know if other knitters feel the same, but looking at art, even if it’s not textile-related (but especially if it is), has a strong influence on what I choose to knit, and my enjoyment of knitting. For designers, this connection must be even stronger.
Here’s a short list of new books I’ve collected this season, and some I’ve got my eye on, waiting for the right recipient. (It could be me.) Please add your suggestions in the comments; time’s a-wasting!
Books About Art
I freely admit that I bought this book because of the cover (fuschia cloth + foil-stamped lettering + that J and that R = swoon), and because it’s about Josef Albers, who has been so influential on people who’ve been so influential on me. I had a good feeling about it, which was validated by the inside of the book, which documents and explores the connections between the artist’s many trips to Mexico with his wife Anni Albers, over the course of decades, and his work. Gorgeous reproductions of Albers’s own photographs of ancient archeological sites, collages and sketches, and paintings.
I love a facsimile book. The tactile realness is so compelling. (Favorite example in my collection: The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems, a gift from Ann that made last year’s list.) I haven’t gotten my hands on this one yet (it’s newly published), but the blurb got me like whoa: “Beginning in 1970, Albers filled her graph-paper notebook regularly for ten years. This rare and previously unpublished document of her working process contains intricate drawings for her large body of graphic work, as well as studies for her late knot drawings. The notebook follows Albers’ deliberations and progression as a draftsman in their original form. It reveals the way she went about making complex patterns, exploring them piece by piece, line by line, in a visually dramatic and mysteriously beautiful series of geometric arrangements.”
Another delicious cover, printed on padded shiny fabric. Inside: an explosion of whimsy, color and imagination. Lété’s work always reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. I find her work particularly inspiring for appliqué and needlepoint. (Please design needlepoint canvases, Mme. Lété!)
If you co-blog with someone who is nuts about the legendary Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten, then you already know that 2017 marked his 100th fashion show. THIS IS A HUGE DEAL IN DRIES-LAND AKA ANN’S HOUSE. These books are beautiful. And comprehensive. Hopefully they will stop Ann buying up secondhand Dries on eBay. (There is also a deluxe box set. Dries have mercy!)
If you missed the exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s clothes as it made its way around the United States this year, the book is a marvelous substitute. Combines photographs of O’Keeffe’s clothing (much of it handmade) with images of her paintings, essays, and objects.
I try not to fall for gorgeous books like this too often. Such idealized splendor, so over-the-top. But the cover got me. That, and memories of a trip to Ibiza in August 2015, when the heat was so stifling and the light so blinding that I felt like I was missing the specialness that clearly is there, if you can stop blinking long enough to see it. While I await a chance to visit again in the September-to-May window, I flip through stunning images of what I missed, in this book. Which is pink and red and looks great next to Josef Albers in Mexico.
We know that views of earth from high up can directly inspire knitwear design. But they are also stunning. These books are glorious and thought-provoking.
Actual Knitting Books
You’ve made it! There are a few new knitting books this month. These are the ones I know about so far, and can’t wait to see.
Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs For Luxury Yarns, by Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary (Interweave, November 30, 2017).
They had me at “luxury yarns.” These are good designers, and I like what I see popping up on my Instagram, already, from this book.
I’m intrigued by these two self-published titles by Jen Geigley, particularly the author’s statement: “I don’t believe in mistakes.” Both books involve large-gauge knits that can be altered or embellished after the knitting is done, with paint or bleach. Based on Franklin Habit’s review of another Jen Geigley book, I’m excited to see these two. I think we need more kids’ knitting books!
Looking for more knitting books? Check out our Knitter’s Bookshelf, stacked with the books we turn to again and again, and Franklin Habit’s essential book reviews.
P.S. Friendly Reminder: the MDK Holiday Shop is open 24/7, and we have books, including the definitive Nashville Novel and all five of our Field Guides, bundled up for holiday giving and treating yourself.