Though perhaps not suitable for beginninners, as The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting: promises to be, this book is certainly a good resource for the more accomplished lace knitter. The stitch dictionary especially is a good resource.
I certainly don’t regret purchasing this book, and it has come in handy a few times as a reference. Although I wouldn’t call it a must have, The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting will be useful for anyone with an interest in (designing) lace.
I bought this book on a whim. I had just started on my own lace shawl design when I happened to spot it at my LYS. It looked like it contained some really useful information on designing lace, and so it ended up in my hands.
Elizabeth Lovick is a knitter and teacher with decades of experience in both. She’s done lots of study in Shetland knitting traditions and has designed a load of patterns, as you can see on ravelry. She’s therefore pretty qualified to talk on the subject of Shetland Lace knitting.
The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting is subtitled Stitches, techniques and projects for lighter-than-air shawls and more. It’s a 145 paperback, a4 size in full colour.
This book promises that it is designed to
take the novice from their first ‘yarn over’ step-by-step to complex every-row lace knitting.
The book opens with what I thought was a really interesting chapter on the history of Shetland Lace Knitting, which includes some lovely pictures of lace work and the craftswomen who created it in decades past.
Tools, equipment and materials
It is evidently set in stone that any book on knitting includes a chapter on the fact that you need needles and yarn to knit.
This is perhaps useful for the complete beginner but that is clearly not the target audience of this book.
The section on yarn is a bit more helpful as it goes into the properties of different materials and how they behave in lace knitting.
The section on techniques starts with the very basics, which I’m not sure is particularly useful either. Despite this book claiming to be suitable for the complete novice, I’m not sure how far you’re going to get if you don’t know how to do a yarnover or basic k2tog. It would have perhaps been better if instead this section could have dealt with, for example, what increase to use where, or the merits of different cast ons and bind offs.
The chapter on dressing lace is more useful, as this is a technique very particular to lace knitting that requires care and attention with delicate pieces. There’s some handy tips here on how to block your masterpiece to get the best results.
The best chapter in the techniques part of the book is on how to design your own lace. There’s instructions for different shawl shapes, on how to chart them and how to pick and combine stitch patterns. This is definitively not for beginners though. If you are already comfortable knitting lace, then you will be able to take the information given and put it to use. If you’re not, I don’t think you’ll be able to make a lot of sense out of much of it!
About half the book is dedicated to a stitch dictionary, and it’s the best part of the publication my my opinion. The stitches include a description on how best to use them, and come with both written directions and a chart. The photographs are clear and of a good size. There’s an excellent overview with row and stitch count for each stitch pattern clearly marked, which makes for easy browsing.
At the end of the book, there are also a few patterns. Mostly, these are very contemporary interpretations of the traditional designs. Personally, I would have preferred more authentic items, just to see their designs put in practice, but I appreciate these perhaps not the most practical for the modern knitter. Still, I don’t think I’ll personally will make any of the designs included.