Crafting How-to Books

What craft books are the best to keep around? When do you know you have enough? A confession, a solution, and some recommendations to help you simplify your selection of crafting how-to books.

this beautiful bookshelf photo taken by Elise Ramsey, & hosted on flickr

A Confession

Books are my non-minimalist weakness. In every other category of possessions, I try to own as few as possible. When it comes to books, though, I suddenly see such potential - what great value for the amount of enjoyment they bring! Books with beautifully photographed directions to help me sew a skirt, embroider a bag, or knit a blanket are my favorite. I think it makes "simple" sense for the kindle or my pda to serve as a substitute for the bound-paper type in some categories of books, but my craft books take a lot of abuse and I need to be able to mark on them, dog-ear pages, and otherwise touch the pages of them as real, physical books.

A Solution

Here are a few useful tips I’ve found to keep my book pile under control.

1. Keep the best, and only the best - I keep comprehensive books that I refer to often instead of those which just have one pattern I like. The same “if you haven’t enjoyed it in the past year, let someone else enjoy it” rule applies here.
2. Don’t keep more than you can store - If your books no longer fit on their designated shelf, you may need to get rid of excess books, not buy more shelving!
3. Borrow & share - Use libraries, your friends, and online organizations like Bookcrossing. This way, you rotate fresh ideas in and out of your library, keeping only the most useful and passing along those that someone else can better use.


As promised, I’d like to share recommendations from my bookshelf and other crafters'. With just these few, I (or whomever) have all the information I need for almost every project I encounter:

#1 for hand embroidery: Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches
#1 for sewing: Sew Everything Workshop
#1 for knitting: Vogue Knitting
#1 for jewelry: All Wired Up
#1 for soapmaking: The Everything Soapmaking Book

...and you?

What craft book could you not do without? Comment with the type of craft and your book recommendation. You can also take a picture of your craft books, organized or chaotic, and post them on the Simple Makes flickr group!