I am not temperamentally inclined to follow instructions. I never have been. I’m far more likely to make it up on my own and then to pester other people to do it the way I decided to do it (which is likely not nearly as charming as I imagine). But this tendency to wing it only works if you’ve got a good, solid grounding in whatever the subject at hand is. Experimenting is good, flailing is not. It’s that background knowledge that helps mark the difference between the two. But sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you can borrow a bit of that background knowledge from someone else rather than painstakingly amassing it yourself.
That’s where good references come in. These are not small works. They are not light works (in any sense of the word, none of these weighs less than three pounds). They are not inexpensive. They are tools. They demand your time and attention if you are to use them well, but they reward that time and attention many times over.
I’m delighted to have added the new edition of The Principles of Knitting to the list of references that lives within easy reach of my desk. I’ve only had it a few weeks, and I’m already growing alarmingly attached to it. If you want to understand your knitting at a fundamental level, you would do well to get a copy of your own. Don’t try and read it start to finish. Just set it somewhere handy and consult it when you find yourself with a question. I can all but guarantee it will have an answer.