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Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: 150 Scandinavian Motifs: The Knitter's Director by Mary Mucklestone

The moment I saw this in Knitting Daily's email I added it to my wishlist. I didn't even bother to read the article. As most of you are aware, my heritage is primarily Scandinavian, with one full-blooded Norwegian grandmother and one Swedish grandmother, and I feel a strong connection with their culture and art. I was thrilled when a friend gave it to me as a belated birthday present a week ago (thanks, M'ris!) and couldn't wait to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and lovely, lovely knitting designs.

When I first read the author's bio, I squealed again. She's also from Seattle, and talks about growing up in the Scando community out there, and being exposed to the traditional artforms. All of which I can relate to - though my grandmother did knit, she was more into tole painting, but there were plenty of Norwegian sweaters scattered around the congregation at her covenant church. Thanks to this book, I now can identify them as lusekofte sweaters.

Not having done a lot of colorwork knitting, I found the explanations at the beginning of the book extremely helpful. They were some of the clearest I've seen for this kind of work. After the directions she provides information on how to plan a piece, how to use color and traditional motifs, and some historical background on types of garments made using the motifs. What follows is a motif directory where one can quickly reference the different motifs in the book side by side, with page numbers so that you can flip to their instructions and chart in the book.

Some of my favorite motifs were; The climbing vines of number 4, the boys and girls of number 44 (going on a pair of mittens for Connor), the traditional snowflake of 70 and 103.

It should be noted that this is not a patterns book. She does include four patterns as examples at the end of the book (none of which I liked, frankly), but that's it. This book is a more useful resource for creating your own designs and incorporating the motifs, which is why I wouldn't recommend it for a beginning knitter. You're going to need to know the basic 'how-to' of knitting a mitten or a hat in order to use these motifs, or at least know how to incorporate them into an existing pattern.

But if you are a more advanced knitter, and are interested in or like Scandinavian knitting, then this is definitely the book for you. I can already tell that it's going to get a lot of use at my house!

- D

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