Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Book for the Thinking Knitter

Creating Original Hand-Knitted Lace by Margaret Stove is one of those gems that doesn't get a lot of press, and it's a shame. I can see why it's been ignored. First, the book title contains none of these words: funky, chunky, one-hour, instant, or not-your-(mother's/father's/grandmother's/2nd cousin's twice removed)-knitting. Also, it's expensive, a bit esoteric, definitely not a laught-a-minute, and cannot be appreciated without a careful reading and some time investment in the exercises.

Having given you the bad news, let's toddle on to the good news. And the news is really, really good. The bottom line (which my editors always tell me needs to be in the first two paragraphs of any review) is that this is a Must Purchase Immediately if you want to truly understand knitted lace.


The first few chapters start off a bit slowly, (read: very dry), what with history, definitions, and an intro for the true beginner that can be happily skimmed by the more seasoned needle jockey.

Beginning with chapter 4 though, you'll be walked through a series of valuable exercises that show you how lace is constructed, what happens when you vary the program, presents thorough charting lessons, and leads into my absolute favorite chapter: translating sketches into stitches.

This lady actually paints her lace. Yeah. She knitted part of a lace shawl with white yarn and painted it with cold-water dyes. Trust me, your eyes will pop at when you see her Sea Spray and Scallop Shells shawl.

I frankly learned more about lace from the chapter Cause and Effect with Stitches, than from all my other lace books put together (and that pile would flatten a good-sized watemelon, assuming one could balance the pile on top of the fruit).

If you have any interest in the Hows and Whys of lace, you really should invest in this book. But don't buy it from Amazon--it's twice the price offered by Elann and Schoolhouse Press.



12 comments:

Jane said...

Dear fleegle,

I remember when this book first came out and I somehow neglected to get it then. Maybe it was the dry first few chapers. I've been eyeing it since then wondering if I should get it. After reading your blog, I went ahead and bought it. You can't have too many reference books in the old lace library :-) Thanks for the nudge.

Janice in GA said...

I think it's also gone out of print, so stock may be limited.

I personally didn't like the painted shawl, but I'm a hopeless retrogrouch about some things.

Robknits said...

Thanks for the reference -- just ordered mine from elann!

alice said...

I bought this book several months ago, but haven't gotten beyond the first few exercises yet. Someday... when I'm ready to think again...

mk said...

Thank you for the review! I spotted this at Elann a few weeks ago, but hesitated at the price, as I hadn't heard about the book and whether it was worth it. Looks like it will be in my next order!

2trees said...

One of my first lace books, actually. Glad to see you recommend it. I *love* the handpainted shawl (and her story of knitting a shawl for Prince William).

Anonymous said...

You are driving me crazy with your book recommendations - I really appreciate them but it gets frustrating. This one I have been trying to aquire for a while (at a non-outrageous price). It is currently out of stock at Elann and Schoolhouse. (I ordered from Schoolhouse when they had it listed, and they filled rest of the order without telling me that they didn't have the book, which was my only reason for ordering from them. It never occurred to me to check at Elann and now it is gone there.) Is it available anywhere else?

-- Lethe at knittyboard dot com

mk said...

FYI: Elann is sold out. Half.com and Amazon have used copies of the 1995 hardcover for $60 - up, and an eBay auction is currently around $40. Now I'm really irked - this book has been around for more than 10 years and I never knew?

fleegle said...

I am sorry that there are no copies to be found. I got my from Schoolhouse Press a month ago. And at the time I created the post, Elann was still selling it.
I know that I had to wait on Schoolhouse for almost six weeks because they said it was on backorder. However, it is no longer listed in their catalog.

I mailed the publisher, Lacis, and hope they will provide some clarification.

jenifair said...

OMG! I almost fell out of my chair! Laci's is showing in on their website but it's $60.00!!! I live on the other side of the SF Bay and could brave Bezerkley and 880 traffic to go get it... but $60.00?!?!

Fleegle, I love your blog and your suggestions, but please tell me, is this worth $60?

BB said...

Fleegle, isn't this author the one who dyes for Artisan yarns or some company that does lace yarn? No wonder she does eye-popping painting! Maybe I'll ask for this for my B-day in May instead of Sundara yarn.....

And on about lace books, have you seen Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting book? It's a little pricey too but what I liked about it were the large photos, the projects that went from easy to challenging, and the history especially of lace knitting in the Shetland Islands (since I'll never get there, have to get my fix vicariously). And good explanations of techniques that eluded me before.

Kristina B said...

Funnily enough, I actually came across this book for the first time last month at one of the LYSs here. Now I wish I had knitted everything I've made in white so I can paint it! :-)