Friday, July 2, 2010

Let's Talk Lace

Now, it may not show too much on the blog, but I am obsessed with lace. I consume Anne and Alison's blogs like they are sweet, sweet, lacy crack. I cruise patterns on Ravelry and elsewhere, favorite other people's shawls, and buy more laceweight than I can possibly knit. I've even published a lace pattern and have written several more that are in various stages of development.

So it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I have quite a few books devoted to lace on my shelves. I thought today I'd discuss my most recent acquisitions, which promise to become favorites.

First is Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia.

I have occasionally had--shall we say, issues--with Nancy Bush's patterns. (No way you got that gauge, lady!) But she's a wonderful writer, a wonderful knitter, and the flaws are really mine, not hers.

Knitted Lace of Estonia is a treasure for the serious lace knitter. It begins with a fascinating history of Estonian lace and knitting, then delves right into some Serious Knitting. The technique section alone is worth the price of the book; I've found myself consulting it for advice on other people's patterns!

I haven't knit anything from the book itself yet, but one of the things I love about Ms. Bush's books is that she assumes (nay, encourages!) that knitters will be consulting her work for ideas and influences for their own designs. To that end, she includes an Estonian stitch dictionary--with charts! (Seriously, written instructions just aren't the way to do lace.) In conclusion, A+, would buy again.

The second book I'd like to talk about is also lace, but completely different lace: Alison Jeppson Hyde's Wrapped in Comfort.

Rather than a history of knitting, Wrapped in Comfort is a personal history--a series of vignettes explaining the origin of each lace shawl (or scarf) and giving the reader a glimpse into Alison's life, complete with friends, family, and birds.

There's a handy intro to lace knitting, and the patterns are beautiful, but I confess, I probably won't be knitting them. (Well, maybe. I love the Ann Arbor shawl, and the Redwood Burl shawl is really pretty, and, um, I'm rethinking this.) The point of this book, really, is that reading it--and, unlike many knitting volumes, this book is meant to be read--is like sitting down with a old friend over coffee.

Alison's style is breezy, cheery, and funny as hell. Wrapped in Comfort is like reading a whole lot of her blog entries at once--and I mean that as a compliment. Incidentally, kudos to her editor for leaving her voice intact; it's so rare to find a pattern book that reads as if a real person wrote it.

As I said above, I don't know if I'll ever knit anything from this book, but I'm sure glad to have it and read it whenever I need a little cheer. (And you know, Michelle's shawl would look super in Malabrigo . . .)

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