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Knitting in the Old Way: Designs and Techniques from Ethnic Sweaters [Paperback]

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Oct 2005
A comprehensive guide to traditional and ethnic knitting skills. It presents fifteen sweater shapes and teaches color and texture techniques.

Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Nomad Press (VT) (30 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966828968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966828962
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 21 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic knitting book. 12 Jun 2009
By Mindie
Another 'pattern' free knitting book, Knitting in the Old Way is a must to join those classics on your bookshelf.

Packed full of techniques that are worth the money alone, this book is much, much more. It takes you through the traditions of knitting and gives you a sense of the history of the craft. It covers garments from just about all knitting cultures and gives instructions on how to construct them. From Gansey, Fair Isle and Shetland through Norway, Sweden, Eastern Europe and more, this book covers them all.

As I said, there are no patterns as such. The instructions, for any yarn and needles, are based on a percentage system such as in Elizabeth Zimmermann's books and use seamless knitting techniques. The instructions are clear and detailed and as long as you are a competent knitter, or aim to be one, then they shouldn't give you too much trouble. There are 15 master plans, 233 charts for colour work, cables and textured patterns and 85 examples for different jumpers.

If you like to design and knit your own unique jumpers or simply love the history and culture of the craft then I would recommend this book as a valuable addition to your bookshelf.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knitting in the old way recommendation 25 April 2010
By mafanwy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is excellent and worth every penny I paid for it. Plenty of pictures, written so clearly any one could follow. Every style of garment instructions, I love color work and their is enough patterns in here to last me 2 life times.
After reading I found that I dont need to buy a commercial pattern any more.
included is
15 master patterns from which any style garment can be knitted.85 sweater examples, 223 charts of patterns.
The best was it tells you how to make a garment that fits and it is so simple. I just now made a perfect fit Cardigan.
Every knitter should own this book.
302 pages so the book is over an inch thick.
I very highly recommend this book and wish there had been a review of it when I dithered over buying it.
Iris Stock
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great intro to historical sweater styles 17 April 2013
By Mrs. F. Huxley VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gives the basic of different sweater styles from around the world. It is presumed that you can knit and use of more advanced techniques e.g. steeks. The chapters are Origins(history), traditional yarns, equipment, knitting methods, techniques and tools for planning sweaters. Chapter 7 is the evolution of shapes with lots of line drawings listing fifteen types. Chapter 8 is style alternatives descibing cardigans and different necklines. Chapter 9 descrbes sweater styles based on colour stranding. Four different garments from Norway, six garments from Sweden, five from Great Britain, two from Iceland, one from the Faeroe Islands, one from Samiland, two from Cowichan and an American folk art design. Chapter 10 describes five sweaters based on intarsia. Chapter 11 describes sweaters based on texture. There are two Danish garments, six gansey garments from Great Britain, two Dutch fisherman's sweaters, three aran sweaters from Ireland, a jacket from Norway, and six designs from Austria and Germany. Chapter 12 has 3 designs based on geometric patterning, Chapter 13 has a Finnish design using both knitting and crochet. There are lots of helpful line drawing and charts but no photos but given that this book was originally published in 1985 proably to be expected. This book is a great addition to a knitter's bookshelf if interested in the historical aspects of design and to use this in their own designs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  47 reviews
106 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic knitting book 19 Oct 2002
By Rosemary - Published on
For years and years I've returned to my copy of Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. It's a terrific book and explains how to knit the sweater _you_ want as opposed to a cookbook approach to replicate the sweater in a magazine.
Priscilla explains how to modify your pattern for the yarn you have, how to make it fit _you_, and then teaches you the tricks you need to successfully knit the sweater. She teaches you how to make sweaters from all over the world: Irish fisherman sweaters, Fair Isles, Norwegian, ... As a hand spinner, I love that she often works with handspun yarn, but her sweaters work just fine with commercial yarns too.
So, the bad news is that this wonderful, marvelous book is out-of-print. The really good news is that she's currently working with Deb Menz (previous editor of Interweave Press's SpinOff magazine) to revamp the book and will release it in the Spring'03. I understand that they're adding new bits and it looks quite exciting.
This means that I'll be able to get a copy to loan to friends and won't have to worry about my copy disappearing.
81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bibliomaniac who loves to Knit! 18 Feb 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"And it's amazing what YOU can do with a loop of yarn, if you take one loop, one idea, one technique at a time. Start where you are--beginner or adept--and add one new possibility at a time." This is a quote from the beginning of "Knitting in the Old Way."
Regardless of a knitter's experience or expertise, this book has a lot to offer. I have been knitting for 59 years and am thrilled to find authors who teach from the standpoint of common sense. No "Knitting Bullies" here but rather a validation of all that I have learned, along with scores of methods and techniques to make my knitting even better. The organization of material is outstanding!
I really feel that the author's approach takes all of the "mystery and scariness" out of knitting. One can plan and knit any kind of sweater whether it is very basic or adorned with beautiful color stranding, intarsia, or any number of classic ethnic designs, without being overwhelmed by complicated Patterns. You determine the size, the shape, the style, the texture and become your own designer.
It's the way Elizabeth Zimmermann taught knitting; it's the way my mother and grandmothers learned to knit; it's the way they taught me to knit; it's the way I teach others to knit. This book deserves a special place in every knitters reference library.
Having said all of that I will share one more quote from this wonderful "tome." This one is credited to a 'Nineteenth-century rhyme.'
"Life is a stocking," grandma says,"And yours has just begun. But I am knitting the toe of mine, And my work is almost done."
Every knitter deserves to have this book!
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom! 5 July 2005
By Paula - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Knitting in the old way" is not just great patterns for ethnic sweaters, but is an excellent reference for knitting free from dependence upon a particular pattern with its precise numbers and gauge to be matched and counted. It is perfect for all of us who have a sweater pictured in our minds that we would love to design, knit, and wear; but are afraid to try because of our dependence on "knit a swatch until you have the exact gauge," etc.

The "old way" is to use the percentage system, a method whereby YOU pick the yarn YOU want (there are suggestions for which type of yarn goes best with the type of sweater you want to knit), and which size needles go best with that yarn. Then pick out a sweater or sweatshirt that you love wearing - that one you reach for most - your "comfort sweater." Measure its circumference. Then knit your 4" - 6" swatch and determine YOUR gauge. Now comes the fun. With the circumference you want, do the simple math of how many of YOUR OWN stitches it will take to get that measurement. Voila! You are now ready to figure out the rest of your sweater. No more bondage to someone else's gauge.

That basic circumference is 100%. You are now given a percentage of that number for other parts of the sweater: neck, armholes, gussets, saddles, wrists, etc. Use simple math. For example,let's say the plan shows the armhole at the shoulder being 40% of the 100% circumference. If the body has 120 stitches, then you will pick up and knit 48 stitches at the armhole. (You could also start at the cuff - and there are percentages for that, too.) There are 12 basic sweater styles to plan from, each with its own fine-tuned percentages. For length of the arms and the body, you simply use your own arms and the lengths from that favorite sweater.

Another thing: the authors encourage "knitting in the round" which is also part of the "old way." Use circular needles and double-pointed needles. Now that I've done so, I can't imagine going back to straight needles except for a few things. Sweaters are completed with only a couple of seams at the most, and I find circular needles much easier to handle than straight needles.

And it works! I'm just now finishing a sweater I've had pictured in my mind for years. It fits perfectly. I am so excited - from now on I'll be knitting MY sweaters, using MY gauges, with yarns that _I_ have chosen, and with patterns - colors or textures - that _I_ have in mind. Freedom!

If you are already an experienced knitter, you can use this book with ease. If you are a beginner with some successes under your belt, I would get something like "Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book" (tried and true!) which gives you all of the techniques for knitting in clear language and excellent photos. It would make a great companion to "Knitting in the Old Way," and will have you feeling very comfortable as you grow in experience.
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Edition for "Old Way" 19 Mar 2004
By Joanna Daneman - Published on
Priscilla Gibson-Roberts is a top-notch knitter, spinner and scholar as well. Her classic spiral-bound volume "Knitting in the Old Way" was a coveted book on knitters' shelves.
Thankfully, it's been reissued and revised in print so that new generations of knitters can take advantage of her knowledge and skill. Here is where you can learn all about the traditional method of Norwegian knitting, where you knit a multicolor tube and essentially cut and sew, and then knit in sleeves and neck finishing. Traditional Scandinavian patterns and Eastern European techniques are featured but there is a lot more. If you like the craft of knitting mixed with ethnic history and lore, this is unparalleled. Fun to read, and yet useful as a guide to designing and knitting your own garments.
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great General Text Book 29 Aug 2004
By Isabo - Published on
This is a great text book to be used as a guide for the more experienced knitters who are interested in designing their own unique cardigans and pullovers or vests knitted either in the round using several different steeking methods or knitted flat - various considerations of either method depending on the wool type/thickness and sweater design are discussed. Many different design options and considerations are discussed and quite a few different traditional models are explained. These methods can be taken as is or combined in a multitude of ways that is only limited by your imagination!

I would not recommend this book for a beginner! But it is a fabulous addition to my library!
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