Top positive review
56 people found this helpful
Great for beginners, good to have in the library
on 12 October 2013
This is the book I wish I'd had when I started out knitting Shetland Lace. It's great for the beginner and is laid out very clearly. There are a few pages on the history and culture of Shetland lace knitting, before moving on to essential techniques. Double page spreads cover the following topics: 'Tools and equipment'; 'Yarn'; 'The basics'; 'Working from a chart'; 'Edges and seams'; 'Picking up stitches'; 'Dealing with mistakes'; 'Dressing lace' (stretching it out); and 'Designing Shetland Lace'.
Of use to the beginner would be the comprehensive guide to yarn overs and the kinds of decreases used in lace knitting. The diagrams are clearly drawn, and the text instructions are clear and simple too. Also useful to the beginner would be how to read lace charts. There are handy tips - like using a lifeline - that a beginner wouldn't necessarily know about.
Intermediate knitters will be more interested in the design section, what the author calls "putting the right patterns together in the right way". She covers construction shapes, charting, and putting motifs together. There are short sections on designing a stole, a scarf, and a christening gown.
The best feature of the book - and its real selling point for Shetland lace enthusiasts - is the stitch directory. The author categorises stitch patterns not in terms of "difficulty" but in terms of "concentration level" (because as she rightly points out, lace knitting is easy when you know the stitches but some patterns require more concentration than others!). Motifs include traditional Shetland ones like 'Cat's Paw', 'Fern', and 'Print of the Wave' as well as some others from the author's own experience. There are motifs for centre sections, edge insertions, and lace edging. The idea is that you can pick and choose a motif, an insertion, and an edging, and put them together to make your own design.
There are a few projects at the end of the book: a cobweb shawl, a hat and scarf set in chunky yarn, a modern version of a hap shawl, a baby set, some lacy mitts, socks, and a small crescent shawl. I personally found these a little disappointing but that's only because I was hoping for something more traditional and challenging - 'The Magic of Shetland Lace' isn't really that kind of book. It's main aim is to get knitters to understand that Shetland lace isn't challenging! It's also trying to capture a younger generation of knitters with updated and modernised patterns. Instead of the traditional Shetland yarn colours like white, black, and fawn, the author has gone for bright colours and dyed yarns. The use of colour in the book - in the photos of Shetland scenery especially - makes the book a feast for the eyes. So it would make a good gift because it's a real pleasure to look at.