Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one.” The book review that follows is long, but I couldn’t seem to pare it down any further without skipping some of the book’s great qualities.
Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland
I love sweaters that incorporate ethnic designs, so I was pleased to read “Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland”. The author, Donna Druchunas, walks you through all the steps and techniques required to design sweaters, and some smaller practice projects, with an ethnic flair. She clearly explains how to use color and texture stitch patterns from Lithuania, Iceland and Ireland in your designs.
Right from the introduction, I liked Druchunas’s approach. In a concise yet friendly manner she explains why she uses certain sweater styles, rather than others. This means you’ll end up with a sweater that is flattering rather than too boxy.
She goes on to cover some knitting basics: how to determine your sweater’s size, and how to knit in the round, including the two circular needles and the magic loop methods. This chapter makes a good primer for the beginning knitter and a nice reference for those with more experience. I’ve knitted sweaters before using short rows to shape the shoulders. But I learned something new in her description of short-row shaping for a sweater back. That said, I wished for more information on how to know whether to use this technique prior to starting the design process. Druchunas says that some body types like this adjustment, but I’d like to know what types those are.
I love the book’s format. The chapters on Lithuania, Iceland and Ireland include interesting facts about the origins of knitting in each region. Druchunas presents a variety stitch patterns from each – color ones from Lithuania and Iceland, and textures and cables for the Irish Aran tradition. Then there is a practice project and sweater project. Every project includes wonderful step-by-step instructions. You fill in the blanks on the worksheets and end up with your own design, customized for the fit and stitch patterns you’ve chosen.
I wanted to test out the book’s methodology. I chose the Fingerless Gloves project from the chapter on Lithuania. From making a gauge swatch to adjusting the stitch pattern to knitting the gloves, I found it very easy to make my own customized gloves. All I had to do was fill in the blanks on the worksheets. Each worksheet lays the foundation to make an entire pattern – painlessly.
The project was so logically presented, my confidence is boosted for making a sweater next. The only hard part will be choosing from among all the lovely stitch patterns!
If you’re interested in buying “Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland”, you can find it here on Amazon. Donna Druchunas’s web site, Sheep To Shawl, describes the other books she’s written.