Inspired bt antique knits and other needelwork, the designs in Norwegian Handknits make traditional motifs and techniques accessible for the modern knitter. The pieces which inspired this collection can be found in the Vesterheim Norwegian-American museum in Decorah, Iowa. 'Vesterheim' means 'Western Home' and was used by Norwegian immigrants to refer to their new home, it's their work and skils which are represented here. The book includes information about creating the designs, as well as detailed explenations which will help you master challenging techniques, making this an excellent book to read as well as knit. Many of the designs are quite complex but the end result is worth the effort. The collection of over 30 patterns covers a wide range of items form headbacnds to a backpack. We love the variety of pieces, and even though most of the items in the museum were designed for 'best', the shapes and fabrics used to make the originals and their modern counterparts extremely practical. It's also surprising how many different styles are represented here. Although the designs are all Norwegian in flavour, teh different regions have very different looks. While many of the garments are one size, the sweaters come in a good range of sizes. --Simply Knitting, December, 2009
I love this book for the photographs of the museum-quality knitted items in the Vesterheim Museum's collection. (I would love it even more if the photographs of the historical items were larger than thumbnails--they average about 2ins x 2.5ins.) I also love the historical photographs of Norwegians in traditional dress, and the photos of some of the people who actually wore the original knitted items. The patterns that interest me least are the ones that are "'nspired' by motifs lifted from items in the collection. For example, there is a 'Reindeer Headband' pattern that uses a standard reindeer motif found on an embroidered pillow cover that was made in 1937; and there is a 'Rose or Bridal Whimple' pattern that seems to be a modern design with only a row of stylized roses (or a row of stylized man and woman clasping hands) taken from a motif found on Selbu mittens. However, there is a pattern for a 'Dancing Hat', charted for 35s/37r to 4" that allows you to make a hat that is fairly close to a museum replica of the original. There is also a pattern for 'Cross Country Ski Socks' in blue and white, charted at 34s/40r to 4 ins, that produces an absolutely stunning pair of socks sporting an eight-point star motif, with patterned calf gusset and alternating blue and white stitches on the sock sole, that is virtually indistinguishable from the original. The 'Ruth's Cap' pattern, for a baby hat, is, unfortunately, written for a much larger gauge than the original, but the information about the original knitter's concept would enable an experienced knitter to reproduce the orignal in a fine-gauge yarn. In addition, there are instructions for making (1) 'Nisse Hats', the pointed stocking hats worn by Norwegian folklore elves, (2) Kumihimo braids, (3) needle-felted Rosemaling motifs to attach for decoration, (4) 'shag' that creates a sort of furry embroidered decoration, and (5) 'Decorative Felt Balls' that can be attached to drawstrings or scarves or anything that needs bobbles to look finished. There are patterns for traditional Norwegian patterned mittens, an adult 'Sami Sweater', two intricately patterned adult 'Voss Sweaters', a fringed 'Voss Shawl', and a delightful 'Work Day Shawl' with a garter stitch center and a swirly sawtooth edging. There is even a recipe for Norwegian 'Krumkake'. The whole book is beautifully presented, with lovely photos of the finished items. The text is informative, well-written, and places everything in historical context. This is a book for knitting history buffs to treasure. Because knitted items wear out, and are hard to preserve, there are all too few photographs available of historical knitted items. The book contains a history of Norwegian knitting, stories about what inspired the handknits, 30 patterns, beautiful photographs, and lots of folklore and traditions. The book is divided into four primary sections with patterns included in each: Knitting Techniques, Simple Knitting and Embellishments, Two Color Knitting, and Adventurous techniques. I especially liked the Ruth Hat which is simple yet lovely and the 2-Thumbed Dancing Mittens. As a sweater knitter primarily, I went ga-ga for the Adult Voss Sweaters, the Sami Sweaters and Voss Family Sweaters. As with most Norwegian knitting, the patterns contain a lot of multi-colored knits. My primary reason for learning to knit was to learn to knit Norwegian sweaters. Looking at this book, I am reminded of why I first picked up knitting needles and went to a class--Fairbanks Reader, Nov, 2009-- --Fairbanks Reader, Nov, 2009--
It really is an incredibly beautiful book full of color and vintage black and white photos. It contains 30 patterns for accessories and a few sweaters inspired by objects in the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Each pattern is accompanied by a photo of the knit or tapestry or painting that inspired it. The book even includes a few recipes for traditional Scandinavian sweets. There are some good photos and diagrams of some interesting techniques like twisted cord and applied twisted I-cord. Also, there is a pretty good section of felted items and felting info as well. --Knittingcolour dot com, Nov, 2009
Janine Kosel is co-author of Norwegian Handknits. She has been knitting since her mother taught her as a young girl. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
SUE FLANDERS has been designing knitwear for more than twenty years. Her patterns have appeared in many publications, including Interweave Knits, Knitter’s magazine, Cast-On and in two books by Melanie Falick, Knitting America and Kids Knitting. She is co-author of Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum (Voyageur Press, 2009) and Swedish Handknits: A Collection of Heirloom Designs (Voyageur Press, 2012).
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