Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another Lovely Transaction

CatBookMom, hearing my cries of woe over the unavailability of that book I wanted (or unavailability for under $200), suggested I check the listings at The Needle Arts Books Shop. I didn't find the Lewis book, but decided I would try this one, sight unseen.

First of all, the service was extraordinary. Even though the shop is in Canada, the book arrived in less than a week. The pretty little bookmark and bookplate came with it, and it was tied up in ribbons. Really. I was in such a hurry to look at the book that I didn't get a picture before taking them off. But talk about feeling that I had just received a present....

Now on to the book itself: Mastering Lacework by Annie Maloney. I've only had a chance to skim it so far, but here's my evaluation.

This is a self-published book, spiral bound with heavy wire (nice, because the book lays flat when opened). The covers are cardstock, and the front cover has a transparent plastic overlay. It is illustrated with line drawings, charts and black and white photographs. The focus is on garment design, rather than flat pieces like shawls and scarves.

The first chapter is an introduction that covers all the basic yarn over's and decreases (with Canuck/British terminology for the yo's: yrn, yfrn, yon), a good discussion about choosing suitable yarn/fiber, the all important swatching and determining gauge and blocking methods, basic directions for charting, a very sensible discussion how to avoid mistakes. and a good section on shaping garment pieces "in pattern". That's a lot to fit into 18 pages, but it's done very well. The author is an experienced, thinking knitter who is able to articulate her understanding clearly and succinctly. IMO this is an excellent introduction to knitting lace patterns, with many helpful tips.

The second chapter, "The Nature of Lace" is shorter. It discusses some of the causes/solutions of fabric distortion and bias (as well as ideas for incorporating these tendencies as deliberate design features). Here the presentation isn't as exhaustive as that in Lewis. This was a bit disappointing for my purposes, but it is a good and sensible treatment of the basics. Interestingly, in contrast to Lewis, Maloney maintains that the character of the decreases (left or right slanting) does affect bias, even if their placement in relation to the corresponding yarn overs is balanced. The information and tips on working with scallops and chevrons are particularly helpful, including instructions for using short rows to ease the transition from these zigzag patterns into other, unshaped, stitch patterns.

Chapter 3 gives tips and examples for incorporating lace pattern stitches into garment design. Succinct, but with some very good information on either starting from scratch or modifying an existing basic pattern.

The next two chapters cover designing and modifying stitch patterns, with examples charted and photographed, basic guidelines and lots of tips. There is a sort mini-stitch-pattern dictionary of the author's original variations (including a few cable/lace combinations), as well as suggestions for borders and directions for simple cords (to thread through eyelets for closures or as decorative trim).

The book finishes off with patterns for a cap and sash, a scarf and a tank top. I'm stumped as to why the cap is worked on a purled garter stitch base (but there is probably a very good reason for it, one that I may discover when I go back and re-read those opening chapters).

That's my fast overview, now I need to go back for a close read. All in all, I'm very pleased with my purchase (and tempted to go ahead and order Maloney's The Cable Knitting Handbook).

1 comment:

Calamintha said...

I've ordered from Needlearts Bookshop and was very pleased with the service also. It was the only place that seemed to carry Hazel Carter's Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts.

Thanks for the review of Mastering Lacework. It's always good to hear good, detailed and objective reviews of knitting books.