Three More Classic Books on Knitting Techniques from the British Isles

This year, PieceWork released its twelfth-annual Historical Knitting issue, January/February 2018. It’s no secret we adore historical knitting and books on knitting traditions from around the globe. Here are reviews of a few of our favorite books on knitting techniques from the British Isles featured in the March/April 2008 and January/February 2009 issues of PieceWork.

books on knitting

Cables, Diamonds, Herringbone: Secrets of Knitting Traditional Fishermen’s Sweaters
By Sabine Domnick
Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 2007. Softbound, 96 pages, $19.95. ISBN 978-0-89272-688-2.

An account of how Mrs. Elizabeth Hunter of the English North Sea fishing village of Filey passed on the tradition of knitting sweaters for fishermen sets the tone for this well-illustrated how-to book. Excellent detail photographs, schematics, charts, boxed tips, and step-by-step instructions accompany seven projects (four for men, three for women) worked in traditional patterns. For those who wish to design their own sweaters, more than eighty traditional patterns shown in detail and accompanied by charts provide icing on this cake.

—Jane Dylan

books on knitting

The Lerwick Lace Shawl: A Study in Knitted Lace Design from the Antique to the Modern
By Sharon Miller
Okehampton, England: Heirloom Knitting, distributed by Schoolhouse Press, 2008. Softbound, 41 pages, $43. ISBN 978-0-9554231-2-3.

A circa-1900 Shetland shawl in the author’s collection serves as the framework and inspiration for this book. Step-by-step directions, crisp, clear detail photographs (many enlarged and in color), and oversized charts, together with numerous tips and hints, guide the experienced lace knitter in making the author’s reproduction of the shawl; she provides instructions for a less-demanding version as well. Period photographs, illustrations, and three appendixes—“Running and Rooing” (raising sheep and producing wool in Shetland in the early 1900s), “Extracts from Frank Bernard’s Picturesque Life in Shetland” (1890), and “The Knitters’ from Sketches and Tales of Shetland” by Eliza Edmonston (1856)—provide historical context for this magnificent shawl.

—Alexandra Eastman

books on knitting

Country Weekend Knits: 25 Classic Patterns for Timeless Knitwear
By Madeline Weston
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008. Softbound, 144 pages, $24.95. ISBN 978-0-312-38809-6.

Madeline Weston owned The Scottish Merchant, a retail store in London specializing in Scottish crafts, including handknits, in the 1970s and 1980s. Her beautifully illustrated book focuses on four of the British Isles’ traditional knitting styles—ganseys, Fair Isle, Aran, and Shetland; she provides a historical overview and explains the traditional techniques and motifs of each style. The projects—sweaters and vests for women and men and a shawl—are based on or copied from historical examples, traditional patterns, or motifs. These “classic patterns” updated with contemporary styling and colors will appeal to today’s knitter.

—Michaelian Forbes

To find more reviews of books on knitting, read “A Selection of Classic Knitting Books.”


Find more on historical knitting in the pages of PieceWork!

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