Knitting Book Reviews

Vintage Modern Knits: Contemporary Designs Using Classic Techniques
by Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn

Going by the title, you would think that the patterns in this book would be old patterns, but no! They’re all new patterns, just with a vintage feel.

The authors write:

“We wanted to provide a book that enabled the knitter to take some time to delve into the craftsmanship behind the vast history of our shared pasttime. … This book is the culmination of our shared love of tradition and the desire to make it contemporary. Each original project has its roots in a particular style or technique that has been updated for a modern application and aesthetic. We hope that these projects inspire you to try something different, learn a new technique, and create timeless pieces of your own.”

This book therefore covers a LOT of different techniques. Color-work, cables, lace, two-end knitting, Bohus … lots of variety, and all inspired by classic techniques. The tvaandsstickning-inspired mittens for example look more modern with their texture and the buttons on the cuffs. Norwegian colorwork is used in leg-warmers. Estonian inlay colorwork appears in a beret. It’s like a smorgasbord of techniques.

There are lots of helpful sidebars to ease the learning curve. Tips covering fairly basic things (mirrored increases and decreases), to not so familiar (how to graft two garter-stitch edges), to things that may be entirely new (like that Estonian Roositud technique). There might not be enough detail given there to make you a full-blown expert, but there should certainly be enough to help you make the patterns in the book … and whet your appetite for more.

I really liked the designs in here. I like vintage techniques. I like the craftsmanship that evolved over centuries. I like getting to try them out, and perhaps most important, I like being able to wear them when I’m done. I live and work in a centrally-heated world and spend most of my time in front of a computer. Seriously warm ganseys and fisherman knits aren’t really at the top of my list for wardrobe necessities … but that doesn’t make me want to make them any less. But–why not an Icelandic yoke sweater in a lighter weight yarn? Or pair of Tyrolean gloves and leg warmers?

There is a nice variety of pattern types, too. Sweaters, shawls, mittens, socks… all for adult women, though. No patterns for the kids and menfolk.

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

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