As a public transport knitter, and one who it of an intermediate skill level but likes to "do things properly", I occasionally get stumped when starting a new project on the train and have need for a compact reference book. I hate these moments where I have to put away my knitting and wait until I get home and look up one of my large heavy reference books or do a search on the internet for some of the newer techniques.
Recently I came across and purchased "Vogue Knitting Quick Reference: The Ultimate Portable Knitting Compendium" from The Book Depository.
...Just on the side, I LOVE this website! If you don't know about them already you should check out their website. Based in the UK they ship anywhere in the world for FREE! And it doesn't take very long to get deliveries. Amazon orders take about 4-6 weeks to get to Australia and even if the product is reasonably price the shipping cost is usually a deal breaker. But I digress...
Anyway, when the book arrived I was quite disappointed. It really didn't live up to the claims of its subtitle. My main grievance was with the cover and the overall size of the book. Firstly it is a weird sized book measuring 8.5" wide x 7.5" high; not particularly "portable". But far worse than that is the cover and the binding. The book is spiral bound and the cover, which is made of quite a thin card stock, is attached to the back of the spiral after a few reads the front cover tends to overhang the rest of the book. I've only owned mine for a month or so and already the cover is looking very scrappy, and this is only after a few times in my knitting bag. This might sound very superficial but there is just something very un-flickable about this book, and I think that a good compact knitting reference should be able to be easily flicked through.
The information inside is useful and clearly illustrated, but it lacks an index and so far it also missing 2 techniques that I would have like to be included: 1) long tail cast-on, and 2) Circle/Disappearing loop cast-on. I have used it a couple of times but it now lives on my book shelf rather than in my knitting bag.
Today, I chanced upon a handy little book at my local library, "The Knitter's Handbook: Essential Skills & Helpful Hints from Knitters Magazine". I was taking my 2 year old to story time and passed it on display on my way in. When I got a chance to look through it I was delighted by what I found. Firstly, it is a great size (6.25" wide x 8" high), and although it is also spiral bound, it is covered with a nicely designed and robust hard cover. I also like the way that the information is grouped together in general categories which form the chapters, and these appear in alphabetical order: basics; bind-offs; buttons, buttonholes & zippers; cables; cast-ons; etc, etc. Each chapter starts with a mini table of contents and finishes with a notes page. It also has an index, which all good reference books should.
The first thing I looked for in the table of contents was long-tail cast-on. It's in there! I didn't expect to see the disappearing loop cast-on in there but found it on page 47 in the Circular Knitting chapter, described as "Circle Cast-on".
I've already been online and ordered this book from Amazon (when I typed in the ISBN into Book Depository it brought up a book with a slightly different name and a totally different cover - possibly just the British release but I didn't want to risk it) - now I have to wait until the last week in April for it, but at least i have my library copy in the meantime. I think this book is well worth adding to your collection, especially if you want something that you can throw into you knitting bag.