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Review: Knitting in the Old Way


First, the facts:

Title: Knitting in the Old Way: Designs & Techniques from Ethnic Sweaters

Author: Priscilla Gibson-Roberts & Deborah Robson

Published by: Nomad Press, 1985 & 2004

Pages: 307

Type: Design.


1. Origins
2. Traditional Yarns
3. Equipment
4. Knitting Methods
5. Techniques
6. Tools for Planning Sweaters
7. An Evolution of Shapes
8. Style Alternatives
9. Color Stranding
10. Intarsia
11. Texture
12. Geometric Patterning
13. Crochet-Enhanced Knits

Knitting in the Old Way

Pattern Size Range: Whatever you need.

The In-Depth Look:

I’ll confess right away that this book has been one of my favorites for years. I have the 1985 edition, and pull it off the shelf every time I start thinking about designing my own sweater.

Why is this one so good?

It’s not filled with trendy patterns. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s filled with old, time-honored sweater shapes, from the oldest, knitted blouses to saddle-shoulder Aran styles.

Along the way, she discusses, well, everything! Knitting techniques. Ways of adding color. How to do cables. When to do color and cables. How an Icelandic pullover differs from a Fair Isle one.

All the different shapes, patterns, and techniques are accompanied by clear, hand-drawn schematics.

Obviously, if you’re only interested in more modern shapes, more trendy designs, this won’t be the book for you. But for a look at the history and reasons for some of the designs that have been around for donkeys’ years? I can’t think of another book in my library that’s as all-around useful.

Oh, and as to the two editions? With the exception of a final chapter on spinning yarn that’s in the earlier book and not in the newer one, the information all seems pretty much the same. The organization, however, is different. Things are shuffled around to different chapters, but it’s all still there. True, the 1985 edition was spiral-bound, which made using it as a reference a little easier, but the perfect binding on the new edition is likely to last longer.

Really, it’s a great book. I mean, why else would the publishing gods have granted it a new life? It’s a classic.

The newer edition is available at amazon.com for $18.45 which, ironically, is just about what I paid (full price) for my 1985 edition.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: Well, it’s been a favorite for over 20 years. How could I NOT gush? Love it.

The review copy of the new edition was kindly donated by Nomad Press. Thank you!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Deborah Robson May 12, 2009, 3:30 am

    There’s actually quite a bit more information in the new edition (despite the departure of the handspinning info . . . there wasn’t much spinning info in 1985, and there is now).

    Number of sweater concepts for which full charts are given–original edition 47; new edition 85. Charts–original edition 108; new edition 232. There’s so much information in *both* editions that we had to count ourselves to see how they differed.

    For a really long-lasting copy of the new edition, the trick is to find one of the hardcovers. That version doesn’t have the pretty cover of the paperback, but it’s smythe-sewn (serious binding).

    Thanks for reviewing the book!

    Deborah Robson´s last blog post..Suffolk and gray not-Suffolk, revisited

  • --Deb May 12, 2009, 7:59 am

    Thank you for the comparisons. I admit I didn’t go page by page in comparing the two editions. I mean, I might have, but since the internal structure as well as the formatting was completely different, it just wasn’t practical (grin).

    One thing I did notice, though? As I was flipping through the newer edition, I kept finding myself stopping to read and reread sections and descriptions–always a sign of a good book.

    –Deb´s last blog post..Review: Knitting in the Old Way

  • maria May 19, 2009, 1:45 am

    One thing I loved was the short row instructions! I read the previous edition in its hardcover format. I think they are basically the same method as Japanese short rows, but without all those pesky safety pins!

    maria´s last blog post..Naughty Blogger

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