It will probably not surprise you to hear that I dote on stitch dictionaries. This goes back to when I was fifteen and finally comfortable with knitting after a two-month trip to stay with a friend in Denmark who also knit. I came back home, and knit clothes for my dolls, and yearned after the Harmony Guide to Stitches that was in a rather eclectic shop near our apartment (my usual purchases from them included stickers and jelly beans). I eventually was given the book as a present, fortunately, at which point I went through and marked each stitch I wanted to try. (Looking at those marks now, I can see how my taste has changed in some ways and not in others.)
Anyway! When my grandmother stopped being able to knit, I brought home her stitch dictionaries: the first two Barbara Walker treasuries, which had belonged to her mother, and a Mon Tricot stitch dictionary.
There are many reasons to love the Barbara Walker treasuries, which I suspect are familiar to most of you. Mon Tricot is perhaps less familiar. It was (is?) a French knitting magazine. (As best I can tell, they were still in existence as of 2009.) Sometime in the 1970s, I think, they appear to have commissioned a British woman named Margaret Hamilton-Hunt to translate a stitch dictionary with some basic knitting and crochet instructions and several hundred stitch patterns in it. There were multiple editions published, each one with more stitches.
You will note that I haven’t been able to figure out the full story about this; if anyone knows more, please comment! The only online references to Margaret Hamilton-Hunt appear to be descriptions of the Mon Tricot stitch dictionaries
The earliest one I’ve located appears to have had 250 stitch patterns, knitting and crochet. The first few editions contain both, and appear to go from 250 stitches up through at least 1300 stitches, based on what I’ve found on Amazon, Alibris, eBay, and so on. I inherited Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary: 900 Stitches Patterns, and later ordered Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary: 1030 Stitches Patterns. 1030 Stitches Patterns contains everything from 900 Stitches Patterns, plus 230 more. I presume 1300 Stitches Patterns just builds on that still more.
I enjoy these books a lot. They have lots of stitch patterns I haven’t seen anywhere else, and I’ve learned a lot from them. They’re a bit quirky by modern standards and they use older terminology. They only have charts for the jacquard knitting (stranded knitting). Often the more unusual maneuvers are defined within a stitch pattern. The meaning of m1 varies from stitch pattern to stitch pattern, though fortunately the first use of the abbreviation is explained each time. (Most commonly, “wrn to m1”, which stands for “wool round needle to make one”, or in modern American terms, “yarn over”. In case you didn’t know, some knitters use “wool” to refer to “yarn”.)
The crochet instructions also use standard UK terminology. “Double” and “treble” mean different things in the US and the UK, for instance; if you’re from the US, make sure to look up the difference before using these books, if you don’t already know about it. The books are available used through the usual sources; I recommend ALibris if you want to avoid Amazon. (See next paragraph if you crochet, however.)
Imagine my delight when I stopped into a local creative reuse shop to discover a new-to-me Mon Tricot stitch dictionary: Knitting Encyclopedia 1500 Patterns. This dates from 1984, and contains many more knitting stitches that aren’t in the other books that I have. Some of them (notably the slip-stitch color designs) aren’t as well explained as the earlier books. For instance, I can’t find a definition for “pulled out stitches” in the glossary, though I think from context that it must mean slip stitches. This volume contains no crochet stitches, however, so don’t purchase it if you want those too.
Anyway, I think it’s well worth seeking these out.