Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Shetland Fine Lace Knitting - Carol Christiansen

I have a new book and I'm very excited about it. Shetland Fine Lace Knitting is the result of a project at the Shetland Museum to asses their lace collection. The result is a scholarly overview of the art of fine lace knitting in Shetland that invites further research and a really practical book of patterns and motifs.

The original pieces are broken down into their individual elements, we get charted instructions and written ones, and excellent photographs of both the original very fine lace, and samples that have been knitted up in a less challenging modern 2ply lace weight. It's not possible to machine spin yarn as fine as the handspun used for these older shawls, and the skills to do it have gone. There are some simpler patterns in here that I'd like to use - it's good to see what I'm likely to be able to create using laceweight I can actually knit with. 

I have a cone of Jamieson and Smith's 1ply supreme lace weight which was developed alongside the museum's fine lace project - I bought it long before I had any understanding of the skills or effort needed, and the last time I tried I couldn't even knit with the stitches I managed to cast on. I might as well have been trying to knit with hair - and yet the handspun yarn was finer. I don't know if I'll ever have the patience, never mind the skill to try and make something with my yarn, but it serves as a useful reminder of the range and depth of skill this knitting requires - and that's worth having.

Meanwhile, this book is a masterpiece and a must for knitters or people with an interest in the history of fine knitted textiles. It's informative, clearly laid out, useful, and inspiring. A fine addition to my growing library on Shetland knitting and something to treasure in its own right. Don't hang around if it sounds like a book for you - all too often these books don't get large or repeated print runs and they get very expensive secondhand. 

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