First, the facts:
Author: Andrea Jurgrau
Published by: Interweave Press, 2014
3. The Fine Art of Swatching
5. Doily Dissection–A Little Geometry and a Lot of Fun
The In-Depth Look:
I love a good lace book, and when you add in knitting tradition as well? Even better.
The author writes, “This book is about embracing knitting tradition without being bound by it. … Fortunately, large collections of what I consider to be the finest knitted lace doily and tablecloth patterns have become available in the past few years, including those by German designers who knitted during the first half of the twentieth century. This style of lace, called kunststricken, translates to ‘art knitting.’ Herbert Niebling (1905-1966) is my favorite of these designers. … For New Vintage Lace, I set out to reinterpret kunststricken for contemporary appeal. Although I take pleasure in knitting doilies and tablecloths, I wanted the projects in this book to attract a wider audience. Maybe I was simultaneously channeling Grandma Rose and her sister Helen when I started envisioning ways to transform these classic lace motifs into wearable pieces for today’s lace knitters.”
Wearable pieces. That’s what makes this book so appealing. I love lace and find knitting it a pleasure, but … I’ve never really had the urge to knit doilies. I also prefer a slightly bigger gauge. I mean the fact that my grandmother used to crochet lace edgings onto handkerchiefs with impossibly small steel crochet hooks still amazes me–even in my 20’s, seeing where to insert the hook was hard, and even if I find it a little easier to knit lace than to crochet it because you’ve got your stitches nicely separated on a needle, still … I prefer yarn to thread, you know?
Besides, who’s ever going to see your doily collection?
Shawls, though? Well, hello, beautiful.
The book starts with some techniques you’ll need to know–knitting with beads, circular cast-ons, basic lace-knitting stuff. Then there’s a discussion about the importance of swatching, but then the fun begins. The patterns.
They aren’t all shawls, the patterns in this book. In fact, the first few are for hats (or hats and/or matching doilies). Then there are a couple scarves, all of which are lovely, but to me, the real stars here are the shawls, because they’re stunning. They range in shape to half-circle to wedges to full circle. (Yes, most but not all of them are some variation of round rather than triangular.) The fact that much of the lace is based on delicate doily or tablecloth motifs is pretty easy to see, too, but that’s all to the good. We get so used to having certain expectations about shawl patterns. We’re so accustomed to the top-down triangular shape, or the slightly curved, semi-circle, we see them everywhere. These patterns, though, are unique … and it’s a delicious irony that that is true because in many ways that’s because they’re old. Or at least the motifs they’re based on are.
The book sums up with a final chapter about how you can take a classic doily pattern and turn it into your own shawl pattern, along with tips and a chart and one more pattern so you can see the process to its end.
All in all, I like this book a lot … and I have a feeling that I’ll be knitting one of the “Blue Dahlia” shawls myself one of these days, because it’s just too gorgeous not to.
This lovely book is available at your local shop or at Amazon.com.
This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!