A while ago, I started a series of posts about knitting books I really liked, and I’ve neglected to continue. I realized this as I thought about designing a sock pattern of my own. The two I knit from Sensational Knitted Socks are very nice, but the pink sock is a little baggy around the ankle and the new red ones may be a little tight.
I also love cables. And so I thought that a cable pattern might give me the perfect sock top.
And in thinking about which cables I might use, I instinctively went first to some of my oldest dictionaries, not my more modern Stitchionaries and Harmony guides. These are the various Mon Tricot books. Although out of print, these soft-cover books are often available on eBay and from used bookstores at not very elevated prices. These books contain crochet stitches, but since I’m a knitter, I’m only describing the knit portions.
The two dictionaries that I own were released in the 1970s and early 1980s. (There is another version with 1030 stitches, as well.) Although the 1500-stitch edition has many of the stitches that the 800-stitch edition does, there are some stitches not duplicated, and so eventually I’d like to have the missing 1030 edition too.
The version with 800 stitches is mostly black and white, but the instructions are clear and easy enough to read:
There are also color inserts for slip-stitch patterns (as shown here), some stranded patterns, and cables in two colors. Some of the stranded patterns are charted. The front of the book contains international knitting terms, which helped me read patterns in French and Italian magazines that I used for inspiration in the 1970s, when few U.S. publishers had any knitting books or magazines at all. There is a “knitting dictionary" section in this book that has photos of some techniques such as making corners, buttonholes, and decreases. This is a comprehensive section, but the techniques are photographed and not drawn, as in many newer books on knitting techniques. I find the drawings plus the photos, as in the Big Book of Knitting, to be more helpful in learning to do something that is new for me. But the Mon Tricot book is surprisingly thorough for a “stitch dictionary”.
The edition with 1500 stitches has more color. Some of the patterns are photographed in color, but most are taken from the 800-stitch edition and are in black and white.
The stitches in both books are arranged by stitch type (lacy stitches, cables, diagonal patterns). I don’t think I have any other book that devotes a whole section to chevron patterns, and in the 1500-stitch edition, these are all in color.
The 1500-stitch edition has a few patterns (three very nice cable-stitch sweaters—and a dress), and there are instructions for constructing a saddle shoulder on an Aran sweater. This edition also has the “knitting dictionary”. Some of the photos are different from the 800-stitch edition, and are less clear. (Probably some unhappy editor had instructions to make this shorter, and she reduced the number of diagrams. Unfortunately, I’ve had to live under that constraint for different kinds of books!)
I consider these to be among the most cherished books in my knitting library, and if you are eager to start designing projects on your own, they should be part of your collection of stitch dictionaries too.