Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: Ethnic Knitting Exploration

Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland
Donna Druchunas
Nomad Press

Reviewed by Kate Walker
Ethnic Knitting Exploration is a thorough introduction to knitting design. As with many pattern books, it includes the very basics, such as yarn weights and needle sizes, but it progresses quickly, and takes the reader through a step-by-step process of designing their own pattern. Along the way, Druchunas offers tips for sizing, choosing the right yarn weight and keeping consistent gauge.

There are different ways to plan your patterns, including a visual plan, detailed planning worksheets and a step-by-step list of written instructions. The focus of the book is on knitting sweaters, and there is a good introduction to the different shapes of sweater. For new knitters looking to build confidence in pattern design, Druchunas starts with some smaller projects, such as fingerless gloves and ponchos.

Unlike her previous book, Arctic Lace, Druchunas does not concentrate very much on the history of the countries themselves, although there is a brief introduction to them at the start of each section and sidebars of trivia dotted around the book. Instead the emphasis is on using elements of each country’s knitting traditions to create your own patterns. Icelandic and Lithuanian patterns include Fair Isle motifs and borders, while the Irish patterns include cabling and designs to create your own customised aran sweaters.

There are photos of the pattern stitches throughout the book, although I would have liked to have seen photos of the finished product as well. With the exception of the cover photos, finished products are shown in line drawings

If you’re looking for rigid patterns, this is not the book for you. The key themes of the book are flexibility, pattern tweaking, and as Druchunas herself says ‘fudging’. For a beginner this is a very good introduction to designing your own pattern, and should give even the most cautious knitter the confidence to design their first sweater.


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