Inspiration has a habit of jumping around. It doesn’t usually follow a straight path from a source to our knitting, or to the other crafts we pick up and put down as we go. When we decided earlier this year that we had the shelf space and the staff to add more books to this year’s MDK Holiday Shop, we cast a wide net—ignoring categories for the most part—and then we winnowed down the bounty to a short list of truly excellent books that we’re offering this year.
These are all books that have wowed us with much-needed, always-welcome inspiration, through photography, writing, and the authors’ point of view. Some are related to knitting, some are not. To us, they are all knitting books, in that they are books that could inspire one’s knitting, or maybe just get a person through a tough day.
Not that anybody is coming over to inspect our coffee tables these days, but it has to be said that any one of the books in this year’s Holiday Shop will surely raise the tone of a coffee table. But each one of them is even better on a nightstand, to lose yourself in for a while every morning or bedtime.
We’re not dyers, but if somebody has a vat going within a drivable distance, get out of our way; we will dye all the things.
The art and science of making color from natural materials crosses cultures and goes back millennia. The authors are immersed in their subject (pun! not sorry!) and share techniques and guides with vivid photography and storytelling. A great gift for anyone who is curious about color.
For more on the authors and this book, we highly recommend this recent conversation with Melanie Falick.
In a studio next to her house in Connecticut, potter Frances Palmer makes extraordinary pots, vases, and tableware. She then fills these vessels with flowers she grows and food she prepares, and photographs them. Her book is first and foremost an explosion of handcrafted beauty, in lush, living profusion.
It’s also a how-to book, and a guide to something many people crave: a full-circle creative life. In essays accompanying the stunning photography, you’ll learn a lot about making pottery, growing dahlias, working from home, the meditation of repetition, and much more. A fascinating look behind the scenes of a life that seems idyllic from the outside and was crafted purposefully, step by step.
Sisters Tabara and Mamy N’Diaye founded La Basketry to explore and celebrate the work of weavers of Senegal, their home country. Baskets features 16 projects including laundry baskets, baskets with lids, rope bags, a picnic basket, a gorgeous woven lampshade, and a stylish collection of patterned tableware. Four chapters cover traditional basket materials—grass, twine, rope and cane and their related techniques—to get you engaged in this joyful, tactile art.
Simply looking at the craftsmanship and inventive arrangement of Tabara N’Diaye’s baskets will refresh any textile practice, from knitting to quilting to weaving.
This little book set off a mini-craze at MDK World Headquarters earlier this year. One by one, team members sidled over to the looms and loops and started weaving, with the furrowed brows of a bunch of 10-year-olds. It’s so satisfying to make a kitchen drawerful of these colorful little mats, no two the same. (And now we’re all set for potholders at the coffee station, thanks.)
This is the official book of designs published by Harrisville Designs, with clear instructions on how to weave and finish a potholder, plus 140 colorful patterns. Who knew you could weave 140 patterns?
We’ve fallen in love with this uncle-niece duo. Each is an artist in their own right, and the two together are compelling teachers and guides to a creative practice in life. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Big Sur, while the two of them sit side by side, painting the same still lifes for a week every year. They are living the dream, and in this book, they are sharing it and showing us how we might access some of that joy in our own lives.
If you’d like to spend an hour or so making holiday cards with Kaffe and Erin, here you go. Spoiler alert: Kaffe is knitting during the conversation, so you’ll get a peek at the intarsia maestro’s very own tangle.
Celebrate fresh, new talent with this colorful collection of 15 designs for mitts, mittens, and gloves. Curated by Jeanette Sloan and Kate Davies, these patterns showcase designers from all over the world—you’ll find tons of texture and color and witty ideas to make.
Small projects, big happiness.
We love an ambitious pile of projects. This collection of 52 patterns curated by Jonna Hietala and Sini Kramer of Laine Publishing features the work of an eclectic array of inventive designers who share a love of beautiful, engaging-to-knit socks and slippers.
Gorgeously photographed. Expertly edited and laid out for gazing and knitting joy.
Especially fun to look at while knitting a plain sock. See, little sock? Here’s your family.
If you think marling is just knitting with two strands of color at a time—you’re right. But you may be astonished at how far this simple technique can take you.
We had the great good luck to work with Cecelia Campochiaro on MDK Field Guide No. 5: Sequences, which draws from her masterful book Sequence Knitting. We have made many projects using her elegantly simple idea, so the news that she was at work on a new book was thrilling to us.
With Making Marls, Cecelia brings us a book that sends us down a brand-new rabbit hole of fun and freedom. Making Marls is 301 pages of color, ideas, and designs that let us play with color and texture in endless combinations. It’s also gorgeous, printed in Germany by one of the great art book publishers. It is a book to savor, to spend time with, and to treasure.
Almost exactly a year ago, we celebrated the launch of this book at an MDK One-Day Knitting Getaway in Nashville, with Melanie Falick as our keynote speaker. As excited as we were then, we had no idea how the changes that were to come in 2020 would highlight the importance of thinking about why humans are driven to make things by hand, and to make things beautiful.
This book has been a touchstone for us all year, heightened and deepened by Making a Life: The Conversation, a series of talks with makers that Melanie launched in 2020.
Named one of Publishers Weekly’s 100 Best Books of 2019, this is Melanie Falick’s masterwork—a journey across the world meeting 30 people whose lives are filled with great creative spirit. With hundreds of gorgeous photographs by Rinne Allen. A book to savor, to share with someone you love, to read again and again. So much inspiration to discover.
We hope you’ll dive into the wonderful world of books with us as the year comes to a close.
Ann and Kay