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Sunday, March 25, 2007

short story - life got in the way...

Sorry for the silence of late - but life took a sharp hair-pin turn, I had to make a couple of big decisions and got a lot of knitting done (will show you the FO tomorrow!)

That's all I'm gonna tell for now - but I'm back...and kicking off with...


Title: Victorian Lace Today
Author: Jane Sowerby
ISBN-10: 1933064072
ISBN-13: 9781933064079
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 192
Publisher: XRX Books,US
Published: 2006
Book Source: The Book Depository
Price: £12.22 - approx $AUD 30, delivery free with any order at
Skill level/Audience: Beginners to Master Knitters

Sally did quite a bit of research in order to find this book for the best possible price - several possible sources including internet suppliers and bulk orders from local retailers before ordering five copies of this from the book depository. The volumes were not only available at a decent price (RRP is $US30 - A few days ago I saw it in a craft store for $AUD69.96) but with free delivery - which was very efficient (the books arrived at Sally's doorstep in less than two weeks)

Needless to say - with a good price and speedy delivery like that I was already pleased with this kniterature purchase before I'd even collected it from Sally - however, a detailed review still follows..

First impressions -

When I first opened this book, I found it impossible to flick through the pages - the photography (by Alexis Xenakis) is marvellous - it is the type of text you can pop on your coffee table and watch as your guests ignore the knitting content in order to enjoy the brilliant scenic on-location shots that jump out at you from nearly every page.

The pictures help to set the scene, put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy the period in which most of these stunning garments were originally conceived. A brief introduction about knitting and lace in Victorian England further sets the scene before Sowerby delves into the women who popularized knitted lace with printed patterns.

The chapters -

Each section shares more about these ladies, with an extract or illustration from the publication(s) Sowerby took the inspirations and patterns from to modernise for the book. These start off quite simply - with lace consisting of knit, purl and yarn overs - before becoming more complex toward the end of the book. One abstract I particularly like is an early chart - which look rather like gibberish, very involved and confusing - which is similar to the sorts of patterns the author had to sift through and translate for the book.

The PatternsEach individual pattern is beautifully photographed - usually more than once - in a way that allows you to clearly see the detail of the lace. Part of what I find so appealing about the book, is that the garments are completed in gorgeous, bright colours and the models are dressed in contemporary clothing, which makes your fingers itch to pick up the needles and get started.

And getting started is easy .Each project has

  • a clear label of beginner, intermediate or experience lace (so you know what you are getting yourself into).
  • a clear schematic diagram
  • dimensions of the finished project
  • tension required
  • yarn weight and yardage
  • needle size and length
  • crochet hook size (if required)
  • and extras, such as stitchmarkers, beads, needles and scrap yarn for provisional cast on

The charts for each project are well sized, with a clear key for each one.

Each garment also has clear diagrams of how to construct it, and in which order.The patterns include directions such as the best cast on to use, how to complete the borders and blocking instructions.In some of the patterns, a special stitch is required - and clear step-by-step instructions with pictures are included for all of these. Although it is assumed you know how to knit and purl (and not a raw-beginner) similar instructions and pictures are included at the back of the book to
cover any other technique you might encounter using these patterns. This is not a learn-to-knit quick section, but a detailed lesson for techniques used in lace construction.

Also included at the back of the book, are tips to understand lace and charts better, hints to help with knitted on borders, and blocking advice - and a fantastic section to get you started designing your own lace.

Right at the very back of the book is a lovely article that tells the story of Sowerby's journey back to the Victorian era and her obsession with lace knitting from that period. Also included is a list of the locations used for the shoot.

Overall, I think this book has absolutely everything I would wish for in a knitting text - there is historical content, technique, patterns, clear diagrams, beautiful photography and the story of how Victorian Lace Today was made. This is the type of book that would enrich any knitters library, from beginner to advance, and the technical advice for non-lace knitters to get started, and the history to please those craftster who can whip out heirloom wedding-ring shawls - and for AUD30 bucks delivered right to your door, what are you waiting for!

Of course, what I haven't shared, is the project I am keen to try. (I do have that seasilk marinating in the stash after all!)

It's the Lady's circular cape in shell pattern. Sure - it looks a tad bit virginal and girly here, but think of how amazing it would look in pumpkin orange and straw yellow!

Oh - and I almost forgot... Victorian Lace Today is my first Tome of Kniterature that is 100% Pierre Endorsed!


Jejune said...

OOoh, that does look like a gorgeous book. Just what I need - another book to lust after ;)

Hope life with its twists and unexpected turns has righted itself for you.

Taphophile said...

Glad to see you back, Ginge - was starting to get a bit concerned for you. Hope it's sorted now.

Good book review. :)

Bells said...

oooh I can't wait to get this book. It's coming. Your review just made me hungrier for it!

Hope life is ok. If it's not, just knit more.

Lynne said...

Ooh! I've been wanted to try some lace knitting and now I'm even more inspired!

Thanks again for another intelligent review.