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Review: A History of Handknitting


First, the facts:

Title: A History of Handknitting

Author: Richard Rutt

Published by: Interweave Press, 1987

Pages: 248

Type: History


1. Defintions and techniques
2. Before 1500
3. Henry VIII to Commonwealth
4. The Restoration to 1835
5. The Victorian Age and the belle epoque
6. The First World War and after
7. Some Local traditions of the British Isles
8. The Americas
9. Eastern Knitting

History of Hand Knitting

Pattern Size Range: N/A

The In-Depth Look:

It took me years to get my hands on a copy of this book–not because it was so hard to find, but because, interested though I was, I wasn’t willing to pay full price. Which is why I was so delighted when it came up on the Interweave Hurt Book Sale list a year or so ago (and why my copy doesn’t have a paper cover). So, the big question–was it worth the wait? Worth the price?

Yes. This book is big and has a huge amount of information.

The first thing I need to tell you is that while this book claims to cover the history of knitting, it focuses on the history of British knitting. Sure, other cultures are mentioned, but the main focus is on the British Isles. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, because they created a lot of styles and techniques that I consider “classic” knitting, but you should probably know that the Americas and the entire Eastern hemisphere only get one chapter each.

That said, this book is thorough. Text-dense and full of facts. The tone, though, is dry. It could be a college textbook, and … it reads like one. Thoroughly researched, properly annotated, and … did I mention it was dry?

That, in fact, is the book’s biggest flaw. It’s not a juicy kind of book to curl up with on a rainy afternoon. It’s more the type you pull out in your study carrel in the library with your pen, ready to take notes, but that would be a lot of notes. The entire history of western knitting is in here.

Of course, the dryness is only a flaw if you read it looking for something more entertaining than informative, because it is very, very informative. I’ve been reading knitting books, articles, and magazines for over twenty years and this book still had a lot of things to teach me. I appreciate that in a book.

This book is available from Amazon.com.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: A very scholarly, very thorough work. Pity it feels like a textbook.

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