Sunday, August 09, 2009

Book review: Knits from the North Sea

I haven't done much blogging lately but I have been doing a ton of knitting. Lace knitting. I owe many explanations and photos and I promise I will post them, but I'm a bit distracted right now by a new lace knitting book that was just released, Knits from the North Sea: Lace in the Shetland Tradition by Carol Rasmussen Noble and Margaret Leask Peterson. Sandy, my LYSO showed us a flier from the publisher at our lace knitting group a couple of months ago. From the flier the projects looked wonderful and based on the success of our spring KAL using a book group members agreed that this new book would be wonderful as the source for projects for our fall KAL. We decided to go for it, sight unseen. Note to self: never ever commit to a book or pattern for a KAL sight unseen ever again. PS. Wait to see what the real contents a book are before blowing big bucks on a copy. PPS. Don't trust that a book labeled Shetland lace will indeed contain Shetland lace projects. PPPS. Never buy a lace book authored by Carol Rasmussen Noble ever again---it is bad for one's blood pressure and quality of sleep. That woman has some mighty crazy ideas about lace knitting.

I have spent a serious amount of time over the past week trying to decipher, decode, and or otherwise make sense out of the content of this supposed Shetland lace book. It hasn't been easy. I forgot to take note of the author when making the initial decision to use this book for the LK group Fall KAL. I was reminded very fast when I turned the introductory Tips and Techniques section and saw the recommendation to only use straight needles (not circular) when knitting lace. GROAN! Oh no, that crazy lady. I didn't purchase her previous lace book as a newbie lace knitter based on that blanket statement. The consensus of the online (international) lace knitting community is that using circular needles is not only perfectly fine, but frequently necessary to accommodate the large number of stitches in a project. My current shawl project, the Aeolian Lace Shawl has ~450 sts at present. That just ain't gonna ever fit on Ms. Noble's 10" straight needles. But I digress.

I knew right away I was in for trouble upon looking at the first project, Carol's Mountain Stream Scarf. The knitter is instructed to use US1/2.25mm needles to knit a popular kid mohair/silk lace yarn, Douceur et Soie. Huh??? I have always used either a size 5 or 6 needle with the yarn as it has such a lofty halo from the mohair content. Trying to knit this stuff on a sz 1 could make a sane lace knitter suicidal, really! The whole book was filled with cra* like this. To make matters worse, very few of the designs used distinctive Shetland motifs, most were either plain vanilla, simply nice, or worse, from the Orenburg Russia lace tradition. If you can explain how that fits in a Shetland lace book I'd love to hear it. Don't tell me it's because both countries touch the North Sea cuz Orenburg is a far cry from the North the whole of the Ural Mountains away. To make maters worse, all of CRN's designs are labelled and presented in such a way as to more closely reflect her Reno, NV home--not the Shetland Isles. Go figure?

My first reaction/recommendation is to save your money and don't waste it buying this book. Nothing in it is worth even the Amazon price of ~$17. But I have already committed to using this book for my KAL and the announcements are out so I have the unpleasant task of editing the errors and just plain nonsense and turning the projects into something my newbies can manage and my intermediate knitters will enjoy. Translation: much swatching and many long conversations with my LYSO on how to guide customers who plan to knit projects from the book. Martingale Press should pay me for all the work it has been fixing this mess. Never again I tell you.

I am knitting a couple of scarves from the book just so I can know how to guide the knitters in the group. The projects will be nice once I have finished editing the patterns so all is not lost. It's just a whole lot more work than I had planned on and the projects aren't what I had hoped for. Lesson learned. SIGH!


B. said...

Ugh, that sounds wretched. The only thing I'd heard about this book was its title, which was enticing. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll give it a miss.

Susan said...

I am hesitant to purchase this book
as it sounds stressful and beyond my ability anyway, but the title sounded good.

fleegle said...

I'm sorry. Your review made me laugh out loud. Why can't magaz5nes do pithy, insightful, and truthful reivews like yours? Straight needles--hee hee. Thanks for this!