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Book Review


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  Meg Swansen's Knitting
by Meg Swansen
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In the world of knitting royalty, Meg Swansen is Crown Princess to the late Queen Elizabeth Zimmermann, her mother.

This book, part autobiography, part master class, and part pattern collection, pays tribute to Meg's famous mother while shedding much-deserved light on her own accomplishments.

The Story

Swansen's mother, Elizabeth Zimmermann, designed the very first set of Aran instructions to be published in the United States in the February/March 1957 Vogue Pattern Book.

Meg discusses her mother in the context of her own story. You'll learn about Meg's years as a ski bum, an encounter with Ethel Merman, the time she knit a sweater on commission for musician Stan Getz, and the road that led her back to her mother and their thriving business, Schoolhouse Press, in Wisconsin.

Reference Material

The Tools, Techniques & Terms section at the beginning of the book isn't just the usual cursory two-page glossary.

Meg teaches unusual and helpful techniques such as the two-stitch I-cord cast off, Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn cast-off method, and the classic EPS (Elizabeth's Percentage System), from which you can design a perfectly fitting sweater at any gauge.

Patterns

Patterns include Faroese, Fair Isle, elaborate Turkish patterns in subtle color gradations, intriguing Celtic color swirls, and a pair of easy Norwegian drop shoulder-style cardigans that would make excellent shape and color lessons for beginners. There is just one stitch-intensive pattern. The rest involve lots of colorwork.

Yarns are mostly Shetland, with a few calling for unspun Icelandic wool. The gauges run from 16 sts to 27 sts per 4 inches, with the majority running at higher gauges.

Going Beyond the Patterns

The more you understand the fundamentals of any pattern, the more fun you can have expanding on it. Meg Swansen has always encouraged creativity in knitting.

This book continues her tradition with lengthy introductions about the history, inspiration, and underlying concepts and techniques behind each pattern.

There is plenty of meat here to keep intermediate and advanced knitters challenged, while beginners will get great value from the EPS lesson and accompanying pattern.

Yarns

Meg's patterns call for very specific yarns you most likely won't find at your local shop. The only easy way to obtain them is directly from Meg's company, Schoolhouse Press.

Although this could be considered a marketing ploy, the yarns are truly excellent and worth the extra effort to obtain.

Easy to Use

The book includes clear, easy-to-read charts. It also shows photos detailing specific challenging areas of the garment, something most pattern books skip. In this way it's as much a textbook on knitting techniques as a collection of patterns.

Meg is an outstanding teacher, with a comfortable, easy-to-read writing style. If you're a fan of Meg or her mother Elizabeth, you'll definitely want to add this book to your collection. And if you're not yet familiar with either of these women, this book offers a perfect introduction.

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