Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland
by Donna Druchunas
This isn’t one of those history-intensive books on ethnic knits. There is brief discussion on the knitting ethos in each of the three highlighted countries (Lithuania, Iceland, Ireland), but the book really focuses on how to knit a sweater–not about what they were doing with yarn in 1857.
What this book DOES do is explain how to put together a sweater inspired by those styles. It starts with chapters on basic sweater shapes and techniques. How a raglan sweater is constructed, how to center a color pattern, how to figure out proportions. All pretty basic information that you might know already, but it’s well thought out and useful to have in one place.
The chapters on each of the three countries, though, explain some of the details that are unique to each region. Striped ribbing. Color patterns. Working in the round. Steeks. Whatever. This is followed by samples of some of the stitch patterns used, as well as thorough break-downs of the proportions you need to know. How often should you decrease your stitches when shaping the yoke of a sweater? How long should the body be before starting your raglan shaping? How should the cables of an Aran sweater be laid out?
All of this information is presented in a friendly, readable style. The graphics are pleasant to the eye and easy to understand. Except for stitch patterns, there are no photographs, just drawings, and that takes away a lot of the “Is the model leaning like that for a reason?" mystery. It also leaves a lot of the details up to YOUR imagination, which is only a good thing.
Really, there’s not much to dislike about this book. It’s pleasant. It’s helpful. Sure, there are other books that go into greater detail. I’ve read entire books on how to construct cables and put them together to make an Aran sweater, so the fact that they’re just given a chapter here does mean that there are details that aren’t touched upon–but that’s not the point. You can always find more stitch patterns to play with, and you can always delve deeper into some of the design mysteries about whether to use three colors or just two in the yoke of your sweater.
The point is that this book whets your appetite and introduces you to some Ethnic themes you may not have been aware of. (I know that I didn’t know much about Lithuanian knitting at all before reading this.)
The book, after all, IS called “Ethnic Knitting: Exploration."
Exploration is what it’s all about!
Reviewed by Deb Boyken
Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website,
Knitting Scholar, can be found at http://knittingscholar.com .