One of the books I got with my birthday money is Squares, Stripes & Lice by Hanne Dale and Siri Angela Gamborg, and edited by Ann Kristin Ramstrom, The title refers to different patterns that appear in northern European knitting. The basis of this book is a history of the Norwegian knitting and textile industry, as exemplified by the Salhus Tricotagefabrik (Salhus Knitting Factory), which is now the Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum. So you get a lot of history with your knitting. If you like that sort of thing, you will like this book. The topics range through social, economic and fashion history – not super deeply, but with enough detail so you feel like you’ve learned a little something.
One really nice touch to the history is that they include little vignettes and quotes from longtime workers at the factory, which was in operation for 130 years and just closed in 1989. The writers made a conscious effort to honor the factory workers, which I appreciated, being the descendent of workers in various types of factories.
There are knitting pattern here, yes, and they are based on patterns taken from the factory’s extensive archive and reworked by current designers into more modern garments. Each stitch pattern is shown in several colorways and is worked into several different projects, such as pullovers, cardigans, gloves, cowls, wrist warmers, scarves, hats, dresses and skirts, and also pillow covers. Which is kind of nice – if you’d like to try out the patterns but don’t really want to get too involved – pillow cover. Perfect! Also, given the tendency to take one stitch pattern and use it for multiple designs, if you’ve ever wanted to knit matching sweaters, this book may be the thing that gets you there.
This books somewhat reminds me of another knitting book in a similar vein, The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book.
There are differences between these books, of course. They are looking at very different styles of garments, from different times and places. Also the Ohio Knitting Mill book is much lighter in tone. There’s a bit of history there, but not as much as in Squares, Stripes & Lice. But essentially both are looking to take vintage/historical knitting patterns and update them for current use, at least as part of their mission, and both succeed very well.
Squares, Stripes & Lice has some interesting history, if you are into that. But you could very easily skip right past all of that, and just get to the knitting! There are quite a few patterns here, a majority of them very nice. I’ve got several of them marked and in the queue already 🙂
Read any good books (knitting or otherwise) lately? Do tell!