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Book Review: Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush and The Harmony Guide – 101 Stitches to Knit by Erika Knight

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In Knitted Lace of Estonia: Techniques, Patterns, and Traditions, author Nancy Bush offers a history lesson and knitting lesson all in one. Estonian lace techniques are often called Haapsalu lace, after the seaside town where it originated. Haapsalu lace is characterized by a stockinette-stitch ground, with patterns knitted on the right-side only, and always includes at least one solid knit or purl row between pattern repeats. Bush gives you a tiny taste of Estonian history, so that you can better understand how and why the Haapsalu lace traditions came about. She follows the history of Estonian lace from the late 1700s and early 1800s all the way to modern day.

A detailed chapter on how to knit a scarf or shawl in the Haapsalu tradition follows. Everything you need to know to create an authentic lace shawl is included, from knitting a center to knitting a frame; how to connect the two; special techniques for cast-on, bind-off, joining, and more; even how to calculate how many stitches to cast on for your frame.

Fourteen shawl and scarf patterns are included. Though the author promises easy patterns for beginning lace knitters, no difficulty level is noted on the patterns, and they all look pretty daunting. Before starting, I would read through the charts carefully to make sure you can follow. The “Raha Scarf” seems a good place to start, as the solid stockinette sections are denser in some of the other gossamer patterns. Not content with these projects? Want to incorporate them into sweaters and socks? There is a stitch dictionary at the back, with over 20 different patterns – many sourced directly from those Estonian knitters who have passed down stitches from generation to generation.

If delicate lace patterns are a little overwhelming, try picking up The Harmony Guide: 101 Stitches to Knit, edited by Erika Knight. This little box o’ goodies includes 101 different stitch patterns, each on their own perfectly portable card. The color coded cards are divided into three types of stitches: knits & purls, cables & arans, and lace & eyelets. Though I do not have many other stitch dictionaries, there seems to be a plethora of unique stitches within: “Woven Texture,” “Shingle Stitch,” “Biba Trellis,” “Centipede Stitch,” “Parallelogram Check,” “Herringbone Texture,” “Ornamental Cable” (which looks like a column of uteruses), “Embedded Donuts,” “Bell Lace,” and 92 others.

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