Knitting with Icelandic Wool Hardcover – Jan 8 2013
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“The combination of knitting history, attractive patterns, and in-depth information about Icelandic knitting traditions and techniques make this an excellent addition to knitting collections.” ―Library Journal starred review
“Truly an inspiring book.... The sport-to-chunky sweaters all incorporate beautiful colorwork motifs, many easy enough for a beginning two-color knitter. Patterns for the smallest to tallest all look delightful. Vedis Jonsdottir has created a compelling book from every angle. Let's go get some Lopi!” ―Knit Circus
“In general, the photography is wonderful, the patterns are beautiful, and the instructions are written clearly. The book is a hardcover, and feels and looks like a classic that you will return to time and again for wardrobe staples.... I recommend this book for knitters who like the classic Icelandic sweater look, who enjoy (or who want to venture into) stranded colorwork, and for those looking for a pattern book that will outlast the latest trends in knitwear.” ―Underground Crafter blog
About the Author
VEDIS JONSDOTTIR grew up on a farm on the west coast of Iceland. She has worked as a knitwear designer for many companies in Iceland before she started designing handknits and became head designer at Ístex. She has revitalized Icelandic handknits by introducing new shapes and more intricate color combinations. Védís also chooses the yarn colors for Ístex, seeking inspiration in Icelandic nature, to bring out the best qualities of the wool. She currently lives in Manhattan.
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Some of the more special patterns in this book are Aftur, a typical Lopi pullover, Alafoss, another classic Lopi Pullover, and Ar Tresins, a classic Lopi Pullover. All of these are knit with different types of Lopi yarn. There are knits for men, women, children and babies. While most of the patterns are classic, there are several that are more modern. One of these is Endureisn, designed in 2009. It is multicolored throughout and not just on the yoke and the bottom like most Lopi sweaters. It is quite beautiful. Fadmur is a lace shawl-swater, also quite different from classic Lopi patterns, knit all in white.
The book also contains patterns for hats, mittens, socks, dresses and leggings.
While many of the patterns in this book are so similar to Lopi patterns that there is not really a need to have both sets of patterns, this is a wonderful book in its own right. I love having knitting books so that I have a lot of patterns to choose from. I suggest that the knitter look at The Best of Lopi and this book and decide of which one of the two better fits their needs. Both are wonderful knitting books.
After the essays, the book dives into the pattern collection, which includes 25 garment designs for women (mostly sweaters, with two dresses, two vests, a skirt, and a slip), seven sweaters for men, seven unisex sweaters, 10 children's sweaters, and 19 "miscellaneous" patterns (mostly accessories for women and children, along with a dog coat and a girl's dress).
Each pattern is presented with a full page photo, often in a beautiful outdoor environment, an introductory paragraph, a detailed materials list and sizing information, and a note about construction. Pattern instructions then follow. In most cases, a flat picture of the item with measurements is presented (instead of a schematic) along with one or more color charts.
The book ends with a short Information section, that provides brief instruction on stranding, swatching for gauge, care of Icelandic garments, and finishing/detailing techniques.
In general, the photography is wonderful, the patterns are beautiful, and the instructions are written clearly. The book is a hardcover, and feels and looks like a classic that you will return to time and again for wardrobe staples.
I would have liked to read more about the unique properties of the Icelandic wool, or about the process used for felting (since it is mentioned that Icelandic sweaters are sometimes felted). The book is clearly marketed towards intermediate knitters and there is no skill level listed on any pattern.
Back in January, I had a chance to get my copy autographed by Vedis Jonsdottir at Vogue Knitting Live. I shared with her my concern (fear?) about making one of these beautiful designs, and she reminded me that Icelandic sweaters are simpler to make than they appear. Most of the instructions for these patterns are only 1 page long. Many are constructed in the round in stockinette stitch with minimal shaping. While most of the patterns feature exquisite colorwork, it is typically confined to the yoke or trim. I think it would have been helpful if the translated version included a page of tips for working in the round and colorwork prior to the introduction of the patterns. While I agree with Vedis that the projects are straightforward in terms of construction, I think that the apparent complexity might scare away some knitters who could be easily converted with just a page or two of information.
All of the patterns are quite striking, but I was particularly drawn to Bláklukka, Dropar, Fjara and Vormorgunn, Keđja, Klukka, Kria, and Útjörð. There was even a sweater that my boyfriend could appreciate, Strax, because of its masculine simplicity. (Ravelry members can view most the patterns on the book's source page.)
Most of the patterns in this book are available elsewhere, as they are part of the large Istex pattern collection. As I mentioned, though, there is something wonderful about having these patterns collected into a sturdy hardcover book, that can lay flat while you are working on one of the classic projects.
I recommend this book for knitters who like the classic Icelandic sweater look, who enjoy (or who want to venture into) stranded colorwork, and for those looking for a pattern book that will outlast the latest trends in knitwear.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Knitting with Icelandic Wool was provided by St. Martin's Griffin. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.
1) Well known, admired and superb author in this field
2) Gives an old time look in a contemporary world and the blending of the two is fantastic
3) The selections with the main focus on sweaters is smart
4) Some of the best designs and features in the dresses
5) Showcases Icelandic wool in a way that will appeal to non-Icelandics
6) Vedis' work has always been easy to follow and this is no exception
1) Binding -- All craftbooks should be made to lay open