The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting

The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting
I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for a good stitch dictionary. As someone who loves to knit lace, I’m always on the lookout for a book that puts yarn-overs and decreases front and center; as an amateur historian, I love to read about different regional techniques. Fortunately for readers who share these obsessions, Elizabeth Lovick hits all the sweet spots with her tome The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting.

Because the majority of this book is given over to stitch patterns, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to new knitters. Lovick writes for those with some knowledge and experience; the first chapter is called “Why I Love Shetland Knitting,” and offers just a few tidbits on the history of this tradition. Similarly, the second chapter, which provides a shortlist of techniques needed to master this form is short enough to qualify more as a review than a primer. At the end of the tome, seven projects are presented in both written and charted form, but they are written so concisely that a true beginner might become frustrated and need greater assistance. For these reasons, I find this book to be more useful to those with a few lace projects under their belts, ready to tackle something a bit more advanced.

Before actually moving into the stitches, Lovick provides information about how to design one’s own pattern. She reviews the different shawl shapes, talks about how to put different motifs together, and gives examples of her own process. It’s great information, and its position before the stitch dictionary helps the reader to then examine the patterns with a more informed state of mind. Books that don’t include this information may do a good job of collecting patterns, but they often leave me wondering where to go next. In contrast, The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting has me imagining scarfs, triangular shawls, and perhaps even lace inserts for simple sweaters. After reading the introductory material, I’m actually excited about swatching!

The majority of the book is given over to the different Shetland Lace patterns, and this is where this book shines. To begin with, Lovick presents what she calls a “stitch selector,” which presents all of the patterns at a glance in thumbnail format. Following this, the patterns are then displayed in an unusual format. Lovick begins with patterns noted as 2.2, or a two-stitch and two-row repeat, and progresses to patterns with more stitches and rows, finishing with a pattern that takes twenty stitches and forty rows to complete. Each pattern is both written, charted, and shown with a large photo of the swatch. As such, it’s easy for knitters to see what they will get if they choose to knit a particular pattern.

Overall, I adore this book. I’ve spent hours just paging through the different patterns, imagining them in a shawl or scarf. While I think the information is intimidating for beginners, those with the requisite skills will enjoy both the selection of stitches and the possibilities they engender. Because it’s been around for a few years, readers will need to special order a copy. Once the book is in hand, however, it should prove to be a favorite for years to come.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with Elizabeth Lovick. I purchased my copy with my own funds.

Lovick, Elizabeth. The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting. St Martin’s Griffin, New York, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-250-03908-8,

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