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Review: Knitted Lace of Estonia


First, the facts:

Title: Knitted Lace of Estonia: Techniques, Patterns, and Traditions

Author: Nancy Bush

Published by: Interweave Press, 2008

Pages: 156

Type: Lace, Patterns, History.


1. The Lace Knitting of Haapsalu
2. How to Knit a Haapsalu Sall
3. The Projects
4. Estonian Lace Stitch Dictionary


Pattern Size Range: N/A

The In-Depth Look:

How can you not love a book like this? It’s got everything. History. Beautiful patterns. Great stitches. Lovely pictures. Good writing.

You probably want details.

Let’s let the author start.

I discovered the lace knitting from Haapsalu on my first visit it Estonia in 1995. On that trip, I found several handknit shawls, including one with patterns resemblin sprigs of Lily of the Valley, which I brought home as a gift for my mother. As I looked at these marvelous knitted items, originally purchased as gifts, not for research, I became curious about their origins and the special techniques involved. When I began to ask questions, I was told about the town of Haapsalu on the west coast of Estonia, and how these shawls were connected with the history of the town. Although it began as a cottage industry rather than a folk tradition, the lace knitting of Haapsalu and Estonia in general has become a cherished tradition in its own right.

The beginning of the book tells the history of Estonia, that small Baltic nation with the great knitting history. (Well, to be precise, it tells the story of Estonia’s knitting, not so much the history of the entire country–you know what I mean.) The tradition, and how it turned into a cottage industry, how the shawls evolved.

The second section explains the construction of the traditional shawl, or “sall.” The shape, the way the lace pattern is fit in, how the lace border is added on. Special stitches. Techniques for blocking or joining new yarn. This chapter is a thorough blue print of how these shawls WORK. The “everything you need to know” chapter.

But, you don’t want to do all that thinking? You’re in luck, because the next chapter is filled with patterns. As in, patterns that are laid out and ready to go–all you need to do is follow the instructions.

And these are beautiful patterns. Squares, rectangles, and triangles, all knit up in stunning lace. Nupps–those tiny, partial bobbles–make frequent appearances and add a nice weight to some of these ethereal patterns. I’m not going to try to point out any specific shawls, here, because they’re all gorgeous. As in, the only thing that’s keeping me from making one of these my next lace project is that they’re all so pretty, I can’t pick just one. (I love that one is named for Greta Garbo, though, in a marketing attempt to draw Hollywood’s attention to the Estonian shawl industry.)

Following the shawl patterns, there’s a stitch dictionary. Just in case you WANT to do all that thinking and put together your own, traditional shawl.

Really, this is a great book. History. Pretty patterns. Thorough instructions. Pure stitches. Great pictures.

Trust me on this one. If you like lace shawls, this is a book you need to at least look at. You owe it to yourself. Really. It’s that good. And it’s available at Amazon.com for just over $16.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: What a great book–beautiful, lacy patterns, plus history, and technique, all tied up in a nice, pretty bow.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Carrie K December 21, 2008, 7:11 pm

    Nancy Bush puts together some amazing books and patterns. The history of their knitting is the only important history, no? lol.

    Sounds like it needs to be added to my collection, Deb! Thank you for the review.

    Carrie K´s last blog post..Wicked Witch of the North Pole/Mary Tudor Poll

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