I couldn't possibly narrow it down to only one knitting hero. There are just so many knitters and designers whom I really admire.
Authors of books I can't imagine living without:
Susanna E. Lewis: I taught myself to knit lace from her Knitting Lace book. I did the swatching thing again and still have the cotton swatches I made. I love the history of the 19th century sampler she reverse engineered the stitch patterns from and all the information she includes on lace techniques. This book is a must-have for lace knitters.
The Best of the bloggers:
I've learned so much from reading the blogs of so many knitters and designers. I did a knitting blog dump in a post last December (see it here). The list in my RSS reader has only grown since then and I think I'd be embarrassed to post it. A few I find particularly helpful and/or interesting:
Techknitter of http://techknitting.blogspot.com/ posts the most comprehensive tutorials and comparative studies of different techniques.
Marnie MacLean has some great tutorials on using spreadsheets in designing. Her blog is a great resource for beginning designers. Oh, she publishes some really nice designs too. Not to mention the adorable dogs.
Katie Davis designs great patterns and writes a wonderful blog, needled. Hoxton Handmade said it much better than I could, so just follow the link to her write-up and consider it seconded.
Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land posts the most imaginative photos of adorable knitted creatures. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. And make you want to knit little cuties.
My favorite podcasters:
Cast On: Interesting ruminations on life and knitting from an American living in Wales
The Electric Sheep: The podcast from Hoxton Handmade, often just laugh-out-loud funny, particularly when the sheep goes on a gin-fueled rampage.
Knit Knit Cafe: Great knitting content from a mother/son pair.
The Knit Girllls: Lots of knitting content, great knitting book reviews, always entertaining.
One last pair of heroes
Jess and Casey of Ravelry: They saw a need and filled it. Seriously, how did we survive as knitters in the days before Ravelry?
And now I'm afraid to hit publish on this post because I'm sure I've forgotten someone and I don't want anyone to feel neglected. There are so many wonderful knitters out there, my list could go on forever. I've read a few other people's posts on their knitting heroes and am looking forward to reading as many as I can. Why do I have this sinking feeling that my RSS reader list is going to grow horribly today?