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Icelandic Knitting
Using Rose Patterns

by Helene Magnusson

      When is a knitting book not just a knitting book? When it contains fascinating information about something else, in this case a little-known aspect of Icelandic folk culture.  For centuries, Icelandic people have been knitting inserts for their shoes, mostly based around a stylized rose pattern.  Here is their story, and what appeal they have for the modern knitter.

I have always been a person fascinated with folk culture, and I hate to see the special things which made the people of a country or an area unique disappear in today’s homogenous global village.  The patterns on knitted footwear inserts might not seem to have a major influence on anybody’s culture at first glance, but a reading of the first half of this book shows this is not the case.

These items show the rich heritage of Nordic pattern making, and mentions of them have found their way into all sorts of places.  Back when life was harder and clothes often dull homespun, these handmade and unseen inserts must have made life a little brighter.  There has been an exhaustive survey on this subject, and many photos of original shoes, quotations, and other material can be found in here.

The rest of the book is filled with patterns for modern knitwear based on these lovely patterns.  This is prefaced by many full page photographs of the items being worn or used, and is followed by some Icelandic techniques and the pattern instructions themselves.  These are complete with graphs and small pictures of the inserts that inspired them, a charming little touch.  This is NOT a book on how to knit, but a book of patterns for the proficient (but not necessarily advanced) knitter who knows what to do.  There are no staged photographs here, except for things like Swiss darning and band-weave edging.  This is a lovely book, both for your coffee table and the keeper shelf.

If you cannot find a good range of knitting materials used in this book locally try for a list of suppliers.

The Book

Search Press
September 2008
1844483112 / 9781844483112
How-To Books / Knitting
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008