has the how-to had it?

I’ve recently been getting back into my knitting (will post any bookish projects) and consequently I’ve plunged back into the world of knitting patterns. And books. And websites. And tutorials. That’s led to me to think a lot about how-to books in general.

I’ve been known to purchase the odd ‘for dummies’ book, but I don’t hoard how-to books in general. I always like looking through books of knitting patterns, but I find that inevitably they’re too difficult, too old-fashioned, or simply written in a way that I find annoying or incomprehensible. This isn’t just in crafting how-tos, either. I also have a couple of general how-to books, such as a guide to cheap cooking (yay student living!) and a guide of practical skills such as how to sew a button, or get a stain out of clothes. I have never once opened these books.

But I can’t get rid of them! And every time I’m in a bookstore, I’m tempted by cookbooks and crafting books, even though I know that I’ll never open them, and that if I did, I would only use about three recipes, or one pattern! Obviously this might be a generational thing – if I don’t know how to do something, I’ll Google it. In my mind, there’s more likely to be my specific situation on the Internet than in a guidance book. It is also just my natural reflex.

I think, for me at least, it might be a nostalgia thing. I remember my mum and my grandma flipping through recipes, trying to decide what to make for dessert. It’s just not the same to trawl through the Internet! I’ve also somehow convinced myself that if it’s in a book, the pattern or the recipe will simply be better. I’ve resigned myself to a life of buying pretty, shiny how-to books…and then never opening them again. I wonder how they’ll survive as generations grow older, and the nostalgia (presumably) lessens… I guess we can only wait to find out!

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