Fellow designer Liz Lovick kindly sent me a review copy of her book ‘The Magic Of Shetland Lace Knitting’, published by Search Press.
Liz is an expert in Shetland lace history, techniques, and patterns, and abundantly shares this expertise through this attractive, friendly, accessible book. The main portion of the book is a stitch directory, but there is a large and detailed techniques section first, with lots of illustrated tutorials covering a wide range of lace skills, including choosing tools and yarn, blocking, joining in new yarn, and how to read lace charts. I especially love the troubleshooting section ‘dealing with mistakes’, something I’m not used to seeing in knitting books.
The book also includes lots of detailed advice on how to design knitted items using lace stitches, focusing on the most iconic of Shetland lace products; shawls. Liz explains the construction of key shawl shapes, with clear diagrams to illustrate various approaches to knitting them. Then she teaches how to create knitting charts for them.
I like how Liz has categorised the stitch patterns according to ‘concentration level’. She explains that they all require the same skill level, ie decreases and yarn overs, but that some require greater concentration. So, patterns with a small number of stitches in the pattern repeat, and little variety in the type and placement of decreases used are ‘Level 1’, while patterns with huge numbers of stitches in the pattern repeat and a wide variety and placement of decreases are ‘Level 3′. This is very useful in determining which stitch patterns are appropriate for projects you will knit in company (Knit Night?), and for those you will knit at home, tucked away in a quiet part of the house.
My favourite thing about the book though is the cover. Liz’s use of twigs to display the lace is genius! With sea and peninsulas in the background, and the rustic effect of the twigs, the cover picture wonderfully evokes the quiet charm of the Shetland Isles, hallowed in knitters’ hearts.