“A collection of woolly tales and memories” is the subtitle of this charming book, the result of a competition held during Shetland Wool Week 2011. Shetlanders share their stories of working with wool, of generations past who left their mark while knitting for a living, of modern felters, of children in love with their pet sheep. Each essay is accompanied by a photo, many of them vintage looks into a way of life that has changed–but is still honored. An excellent addition to your library if you are interested in knitting heritage.
Paperback; 98 pages.
Edited by Margaretha Findseth
This collection of 22 garments from “Norway’s foremost knitting designers” is so sumptuously photographed that you can get lost in the fantasy. But that would be a mistake! Nineteen of the sweaters (all for women with the exception of a child’s sweater) use color patterning to great effect. The designers talk about their inspiration for the design, which is very useful to those who want to design their own sweaters. The book was originally published in 2002, but the garments—generally based on traditional Scandinavian designs—are constructed in such a forward-looking manner that they are not at all dated.
The patterns call for smooth-spun Scandinavian yarns, but many of them can be converted easily to Shetland jumperweight yarns.
Highly recommended for adventurous knitters looking for color and construction inspiration!
2013 This book is now out of print, and the publisher has no plans to bring it back into print. If you want it, don’t wait!
by Sheila Joynes
In this slim Leisure Arts book Sheila has arranged six Fair Isle patterns in increasing difficulty. The first project, a cowl, is a perfect first project, introducing corrugated ribbing and a simple stranded pattern in worsted weight with lots of plain rounds to keep up momentum. Lots of good photographs of techniques! Then it’s on to hats: the Columbia River Ear Flap hat avoids colorwork in the crown shaping; the Autumn Beanie* ups the colorwork quotient but is still fairly simple; the next project, Little Sophia’s Hat,* ups the skill level by introducing colorwork while decreasing. Ginger’s Slouch Hat pulls it all together with more complex colorwork and finer gauge (yay, jumperweight!). Finally, the lovely Cranberry Rose Hat, seen on the cover.*
Excellent skill-building lineup of projects for those who hunger to do colorwork but fear that they can’t! And at an excellent price.
* These patterns are knit at 28 stitches per 4 inches; although Sheila calls for a heavier yarn, I regularly and happily knit Spindrift at this gauge.
Paperback; 40 pages.
by Joyce Williams
A wonderful book on many levels! First, it is filled with Joyce’s original sweaters for women, men, and children, most of them stranded. Second, Joyce was madly inventive technically—reading through her techniques section and imagi-knitting the patterns is an education in itself. Third, the back half of the book is filled with charts she developed from Latvian weaving books. You could spend the rest of your life working from these!
This is a picture of Don’s Vest, knitted in two colors of Shetland yarn.
Hardback; 165 pages; $34.00
by Meg Swansen & Amy Detjen
In 65 pages Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen have managed to cover just about everything you need to know to knit a stranded garment successfully. They cover topics from casting on and reading charts, to decreasing/increasing in pattern, to centering patterns, to shaping necklines, to Armenian knitting, to jogless jog, to steeking, to spacing buttonholes. It just doesn’t stop!
For years my go-to books on techniques have been Sweaters from Camp and Meg Swansen’s Knitting, both long out of print. This book covers everything in these two plus lots more.
I think this book is a must-have for every knitter’s library: there’s something here for the beginner and for the expert.
Paperback; 65 pages
By Arne & Carlos
This book is filled with festive patterns for decorative knitted balls inspired by Scandinavian Christmas traditions that can be knit quickly. Add names or dates to make them even more personal.
You can make four or five balls, depending on the chosen motifs, with two balls of Jamieson Spindrift (I used 500 Scarlet and 104 Natural White to make the not-yet-stuffed pig ornament in the cover photograph).
Hardback; 144 pgs.
by Mary Jane Mucklestone
This colorful book is so much more than its title would seem to indicate! Certainly, 200 motifs are charted out, but other chart collections are available. What 200 Fair Isle Motifs offers that sets it apart is that each motif is photographed as a knitted swatch and then shown as a black-and-white chart AND as the same chart in two different colorways AS WELL AS shown when tiled, that is, expanded to make an allover pattern. Figuring out how to fill in a chart trips up new designers, and the ability to envision a chart tiled takes some practice.
The front section of the book is filled with invaluable information about gauge, swatching, how to hold the yarn, steeking, color theory, design and more. These topics are covered briefly but well.
Paperback; 208 pages
by Rachael Herron
I don’t normally stock books that don’t pertain specifically to stranded knitting, but I’m making an exception for this heartwarming book of essays by my friend Rachael. Rachael is absolutely honest about her life as she talks about family (including animals!), love, loss, and work—spinning true tales into the thread of her life as a knitter and spinner.
Plus: A pattern for an Easy Cabled Hot-Water Bottle Cozy!
144 pages; paperback
This charming book of stranded knitting patterns had me from the cover image! Hats, gloves, flip-top gloves, and mitten patterns–more than 30 of them–sporting 2-color woodland-inspired motifs.
The author knits the mittens and gloves from fingertip downward, giving compelling arguments for this method (I found that I needed additional help with the Turkish cast-on, easily found on the web). The projects are knit in a number of different fingering weight yarns; Spindrift fits the bill perfectly for the hat patterns (the handcoverings are knit at 10.5 stitches per inch, which is do-able in Spindrift but not for the loose knitters out there!).
Paperback; 160 pages.
The world of Fair Isle knitters rejoiced when this comprehensive look at Fair Isle knitting written by a master of the form was reprinted recently. Excellent history and discussion of techniques and construction; Starmore’s chapter on creating your own designs is fantastic, including a step-by-step look at planning a gansey. Plus 17 pages of charts! The book includes 18 patterns for pullovers, cardigans, vests, gloves, and hats designed for men, women, and children. (The patterns do not call for a specific line of yarn.)
Paperback; 199 pages.
Terri Shea examined and charted some 31 original Selbu mittens and gloves from public and private collections. All the patterns can be knit with Shetland jumperweight yarn at 7-9 stitches per inch. You can recreate the handcoverings or you can appropriate the patterns for all types of garments.
Paperback; 127 pages.
Traditional Latvian mittens can sport five or more motifs! Lizbeth Upitis covers the fascinating role that these mittens played in Latvian culture as well as some interesting techniques. The construction of five different mittens is spelled out in detail. But it is the 35 pages filled with charted motifs that are most exciting!
Paperback; 90 pages.
Hundreds of Celtic designs–geometric knots and sinuous curves–charted! Inspiration for a lifetime of adventurous knitting. Warning: the charts are small. And yes, the $4.95 price is correct.
Paperback; 65 pages.
This charming autobiography and pattern collection includes many patterns that are perfect for Shetland jumperweight yarn:
- The iconic Fair Isle Yoke Sweater (with Henley-neck variation). Note: I would suggest using the updated yoke decrease rates. Contact me for information.
- The Pi Are Square Shawl, which makes an easy-to-wear wrap that can be adapted to use any garter-based lace pattern.
- The darling Baby Bog Sweater
- The Moebius Scarf
- The 3-in-1 Sweater, which was written for a worsted-weight yarn but can easily be adpated to a finer weight–this one is next on my “to-knit” list.
A hardbound edition of the classic, with larger print than the paperback version. But that’s hardly the draw! There’s added material: color photographs introduce each chapter, the index has been expanded, the February Lady Sweater pattern by Pamela Wynne is included, and the front material–what can I say? Very touching preface by Meg Swansen, introduction by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, letter from Barbara Walker, and watercolor by Andrew Wyeth (who knew a Maltese Fisherman Hat could look so very fascinating?).
Hardcover, about 170 pages
This little gem of a book is divided into 12 chapters chock full of knitting tips and observations. Each chapter also includes several knitting patterns, written in general terms and then as specific patterns for those who feel a little unsure of themselves. Of particular interest to Fair Isle knitters is the Chainmail Sweater that incorporates travelling stitches–although written for a sport-weight yarn, this pattern can easily be knit in Shetland jumperweight yarn.
Many of EZ/s classic patterns that use Shetland yarn are found in Knitter’s Almanac:
- the infinitely adaptable Pi Shawl
- the nameless square shawl/baby blanket with a simple lace pattern
- the “Baby Sweater on Two Needles, Practically Seamless” (known popularly as the February Baby Sweater)
- baby leggings
- the “Open-collared Shirt from the Neck Down”
Knitter’s Almanac is not a festival of flashy photography, but I guarantee that you will find yourself reading and re-reading the chapters while mentally knitting along with EZ, chuckling at her idiosyncratic instructions (“Keep calm” is how she opens the discussion on raglan sleeve shaping).
Paperback; 150 pages.