Shetland Wool Week: knitting books

I have a few of the myriads of books on knitting in Shetland. As with my spindles, when I’ve bought yet another book I always think “OK, now I don’t need another one”. And as with spindles, eventually I find that I’m wrong.

I gladly recommend all the books I show you today! The textile tradition in Shetland is so overwhelmingly manifold, that one book in your textile library just isn’t enough.

I don’t knit very much Fair Isle, but I still have a couple of books:

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As you can see, two classics (McGregor and Starmore). I think you can survive pretty well with those two. Kate Davies is a must for all knitters! For me she represents the very best of new designs leaning on tradition. And the photos are wonderful!

“Knit Real Shetland” is a collection of new designs by among others Jared Flood, Hazel Tindall, Gudrun Johnston, Wolly Wormhead, Sandra Manson, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Mary Kay.

“Stranded Colourwork  Sourcebook” by Felicity Ford (Knitsonik) shows you how to make your own designs by using colours and shapes in your surroundings. Felicity is also behind Wovember, the great event we all look forward to this time of the year.

“Wool Week Annual” 2015 and 2016 include essays about Shetland textiles, and designs by designers like Hazel Tindall, Donna Smith, Gudrun Johnston, Outi Kater, Ella Gordon, Wilma and Terri Malcolmson. 2015 is sold out, but 2016 can at least today still be purchased here.

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I love knitting lace, and Shetland lace is especially dear to me. I have books on lace knitting in Estonia and Russia also, but I always return to my Shetland lace books. I must confess: I read the books, and look at the photos more than I knit these complicated looking designs. I know it’s less difficult than it seems, so now I’m totally determined: the Premium fleece I bought at Shetland Flock Book will become a Shetland lace.

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“Heirloom Knitting” by Sharon Miller is out of print, but can sometimes be found as used copies. This book is considered to be THE book about Shetland Lace.

Liz Lovik’s two books, “The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting”, and “Magical Shetland Lace Shawls to Knit”, are two books with admirably well and logically made instructions, easy to follow and understand.

“The Book of Haps” is edited by Kate Davies. It’s a collection of hap patterns designed by a number of skilled designers from several countries. As the term “hap” suggests, the shawls are designed for everyday use. The book also has also a fairly long essay about haps and shawls, written by Kate Davies.

All the books above have articles about knitting in Shetland.

“Shetland Textiles 800 BC to the Present” has no patterns, but is just like the titel says, a history book. Of course, you can’t go deep into the different techniques in just one book, but as an introduction it’s very good, and so beautiful!

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I forgot to buy a book I’d really love to have, but forgot to buy during Wool Week: A Shetlander’s Fair Isle Graph Book by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. I’ll buy it as soon as my credit card has recovered from my trip. Another book on my wish list is “A Legacy of Lace” by the same guild, also to be found at Jamieson and Smith.

I also have books that only have a couple of Shetland patterns amongst others from all over the world. But if you really want to learn about and understand Shetland knitting, you need books that concentrate on the topic, and that preferably are written by people from Shetland (or at least Scotland Mainland). They know what they are talking about! I very soon realised that when I went to Shetland the first time.

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7 comments

  1. Marilyn F.

    I repeat the same phrase “OK, I don’t need another one” quite frequently myself. Amazing how we can fall in love with a book, its patterns, text, and photos and dream about future projects. I’ve been doing it for decades now and have got quite a large selection of books. You made a good point to purchase only books that are written by people who live in the region they come from, as they know what they are talking about. Ethnic knitting is so interesting whether is is from Shetland, Estonia, Lithuania, Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey . . . thank you for sharing some of the books in your library and your knowledge on the subject.

    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      Ah, so glad to hear you’re a book collector, Marilyn! I would have much more books hadn’t I been a librarian. May sound weird, but having a big library at your disposal every day may have the effect of not buying so many books, because you can borrow them from your work. I only have 4 meters of textile books, some 2 meters of textile magazines, and 2,5 meters of files with copies from magazines and books. Not much in my age!

      • Marilyn F.

        oh, yes, I do collect and love books. Unfortunately, I have not gotten to the point of borrowing them – which makes so much more sense. You are smart that way! I have at least 2 bookcases in each room and I have learned to narrow my interests mostly to knitting when I go to a used book store or else I get into trouble. LOL. Like you, I also copy patterns and have come up with a new phrase “I’d better stop collecting patterns and start making them or they will never all get knit up as I approach the golden years.” LOL. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Susan

    I concur with Marilyn. There are only a few that you mention I do not have and I keep HOLDING MYSELF BACK haha I am glad you were able to add to your library when you were there. A real Thrill! I love the Shetland Textile book and keep looking at the lower middle picture with the interesting neck feature.

  3. Renee Baumgartner

    I am very interested in getting an out of print copy of WoolWeek Vol 1 2015. Do you know of anywhere I can get one? I have searched the usual places, including out-of-print online book stores. Thank you for your help. Renee Baumgartner email: reneeb4@charter.net

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