Friday, November 19, 2010

Enraptured by Wrapped in Lace

While I was away, USPS delivered an early Chanukah present to me: Margaret Stove's new volume, Wrapped in Lace. If you don't know who Margaret Stove is, she's the New Zealander who brings a fresh approach to knitted lace. She incorporates New Zealand flora and fauna in her lace designs with great results. In her previous book, Creating Original Hand-Knitted Lace, she walked readers through her design process for a shawl, ending with painting the shawl in the most beautiful saturated pastel shades. The shawl featured sea life found around New Zealand such as sea ferns and urchins and whelks. It is utterly amazing. Go to your library and take a peek at it sometime. The earlier Stove book gave me a bluebell motif I used to design this scarf:
bluebell finis 2

The new book gets my juices flowing just as much, if not more. Maybe because I've grown so much this past year in my lace knitting, I'm no longer intimidated by designs like this:

A Faroese-style shawl like this would be pretty easy:

I think my favorite of all may be the Christening shawl, which Ms. Stove writes replicates her very own shawl. She recreated the pattern from a fragment and a photo, helped along by a friend who sent her an old pattern for such a shawl:

There are clear charts, a section on preserving and repairing old knitted lace (marvelous to have!), and lots of encouragement to design your own. One of the best aspects, in my opinion, are the wonderful discussions Ms. Stove had with the likes of Barbara Walker and Elizabeth Zimmermann and Nancy Bush. Ms. Stove is not too arrogant to show any gratitude she might have to other knitters, and she says so. She includes a bibliography that I think many of us have in our libraries. I have to contrast this attitude with another recent book purchase, one on cabled knitted from the Aran Islands, in which if you didn't know better you'd think the author invented the entire genre (hardly, since the redoubtable EZ published the first Aran sweater pattern in the US around that time this particular author was born).

I have one peeve with the book: one pattern, the New Zealand Tribute to Orenburg shawl, is not included in the book. It's free on the Interweave site, but you have to sign up with your e-mail address first. I was already signed up; if I weren't I'd call this a major peeve (in my opinion, it should have been included and not used as a tool to get more people to sign up for the site).

To sum it up, Wrapped in Lace (ISBN: 9781596682276) should be included in the library of many knitters. I can't think of another single book spanning the styles of lace from Shetland to Estonian to Orenburg that this book does. Even if you are not interested in knitting big lace projects like shawls, you can incorporate the lace motifs into socks, berets, and scarves. The photos are lovely. The information is timeless.

If you have or do get this book, please let me know what you think in the comments.


fleegle said...

I'm hoping for the book for a gift :) It looks lovely!

Knitrageous said...

Oh. My. Goodness! Beautiful stuff!

I have a problem with all of the 'free' patterns. After you give your email address you are BOMBARDED with advertisements!

Experimental Knitter said...

@ Fleegle: Hope Roy and Harry get the hint. You definitely need this book; I know you will LOVE it.

@ Knitrageous: Exactly! That's why it's my peeve.

=Tamar said...

FYI: Mary Thomas published a photograph of an Aran sweater, and instructions for the stitches and for designing your own, in 1943 in Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns.

Experimental Knitter said...

Tamar, you are correct. I think EZ published the first stand-alone pattern for an Aran sweater in the US; MT's is, as you point out, published in her book.
Thanks for writing.