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Book Review: Knitting On Top of the World by Nicky Epstein

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Nicky Epstein, one of the top knitwear designers, has a new book out: Knitting on Top of the World: The Global Guide to Traditions, Techniques, and Design. This enormous hardbound is divided into territories: Far North (Iceland, Denmark, Latvia, Norway, Scandinavia, Russia, Sweden, Estonia); Windswept Isles (Fair Isle, Guernsey, Scotland, Ireland, Britain, Shetland Islands); Old World (Italy, France, Bavaria, Austria, Germany); Mediterranean (Spain, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Portugal, Greece); Far East (Japan, China, Mongolia), and the New World (Peru, Mexico, Canada, USA, Bolivia). Each chapter opens with a guide to knitting from that area: the history, special techniques, famous knitters, native yarns or styles, inspiration, and more. The last chapter of the book includes detailed technique clinics.

“Northern Lights Cardigan” is a Fair Isle cardi done in lovely shades of grape, magenta, and black, with a hint of beaded accent. “Copenhagen Royal Shawl” is a modular lace shawl that drapes down both arms and has a slender scarf at the neck. “St. Petersburg Camisole” is not actually a camisole. It is a cap-sleeved babydoll blouse with a second tier at the waist, scalloped lace edging, and pleated velvet ribbon trim. “Snowflake Sweater Cape” is a poncho to the elbows, where it grows sleeves. An oversized intarsia snowflake on a navy background is off-set by a white funnel collar.

“Evening Gala Aran” is a luxe cabled boatneck pullover accented by pearl beads and a wispy feathered trim at the neck. “Londonderry Rose Coat” is ready for the fox hunt – a tweedy aran coat with a lush crop of yarn roses on the shawl collar. “Cowl Collar Jumper” is a knee-length dress, sleeveless, with a cowl that pulls down over the shoulders. Diamond seed-stitch patterns spice it up. “Hunter’s Argyle Socks” are a traditional argyle pattern, in shades of green, tan, and red. “Edwardian Lace Coat” is the cover image, but it hides a secret – the back is vented from the shoulder blades down.

“Roman Holiday Shrug” is opulently embellished with bobbles, bars, and knit daisies. Sounds like it is busy, but it comes across very chic. “La Belle Cardigan” is the ultimate in femininity: pink, mohair, lace peplum, billowing sleeves tied with ribbons, and a ruffled collar adorned with a rose. “Spanish Rose Trellis Scarf” is very reminiscent of another scarf I have seen from Nicky Epstein: black with a green trellis pattern, pink and purple roses at the edge, entirely felted. “El Matador Jacket” uses curly I-cord on the shoulders as epaulets.

“Lisbon Lace Jacket” is comprised of large, modular pieces in different flower, leaf, and heart shapes, then grafted together. “Mongolian Warrior Pullover” is modeled after ancient armor – thick knitted strips are woven together. “Andes Tunic Vest” incorporates a traditional pattern in a tunic shape. “Cowichan Vision Wrap Coat” uses super bulky yarn to knit up an enormously oversized, cozy coat with Native American symbols.

You get a lot of bang for your buck with this book. With over 50 stunning, wearable patterns, you are sure to want to knit at least half the pieces in this book.

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  • Lynne Mack

    Beautiful coffee-table book, wonderful unique designs, but unless you’re a model with a Julie Roberts figure, not that practical for your everyday Jane Doe figure. I took this book to my S n’ B group who wow’d over the designs, some of which are quite simple to knit, which is quite impressive and a tribute to Nicky experience and talent. I have two of Nicky’s scarf books, plus the other 3 edges book, so you can see I’m a fan. But this is a book for the ‘beautiful people” and wearing this stuff wont make Jane Doe so.

  • I’m glad you liked this book; it has been my favorite ever since it came out. And while watching Julie & Julia, I had an epiphany – since my passion is knitting, I’ve decided to knit every single pattern in the book, in order, from start to finish! I’m going to cast on and take the first stitch at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and try to make it through all 50 projects in 4 years – about a sweater a month, if you will.

    If you’d like to follow my progress, I’ve started a blog. I’m going to host knitalongs for each of the projects, and have contests and yarn giveaways.

    I hope you’ll come and visit!

  • Sounds like a great idea! Can’t wait to see the process!