I received this book as a hand-me-down from a wonderful co-worker of mine. I'm so glad I did! Knit Step by Step by by Vikki Haffenden and Frederica Patmore is an essential in any knitter's library. I have pored over countless how-to-knit books, and this one really stands above the rest.
First, it walks through a variety of yarns, describing different fiber and texture types. It includes a really helpful summary of how to read a yarn label, and then moves on to review knitting equipment from needles to yarn swifts and concludes with a section on garment care. I was really impressed with this introduction! Too often, how-to-knit books leave a lot to be desired by diving headfirst: get some needles, get some yarn, and go.
The next section covers all of the basics for the person brand new to needles and yarn. The title is definitely no misnomer - the step-by-step instructions and clear photographs are easy to follow are concise enough for anyone to follow along. I loved that they included multiple methods for each component of knitting; there are several cast-on and bind-off methods, and even a mini-section dedicated to increasing and decreasing (and a discussion on when to use which ones!).
The technique section moves on to cables, color work, edgings, and even structural techniques like pleats and ruffles.There are ten beginner-appropriate projects at the end of the book, in addition to a sampling of stitches in a stitch pattern index.
And, finally, the aesthetic of this book is spot on! The layout is simple but attractive, and the photographs are very clear illustrations of the techniques being described. By now I would consider myself an experienced knitter, and even so, this book is an excellent resource when I want to think about alternatives for a button band, or perhaps a different edging style or a more attractive increasing method. It is definitely in my top 5 knitting books!