Knitting from the North: Original Designs Inspired By Nordic and Fair Isle Knitting Traditions
Author: Hilary Grant
Published: Roost Books | Nov 2016
Length: 144 pages
For a knitting book with stunning photography, even more stunning designs, and fresh challenges to cozy up with in the New Year, look no farther than Knitting from the North. Scottish designer Hilary Grant has earned her place as mine, and many others, knitting hero. Grant first learned to knit from her mother and has stayed true to her Scottish roots while revolutionizing traditional northern techniques into Runway worthy designs. In fact, her work has been exhibited at Paris Fashion Week twice now. Her personal investment in her knits makes her relateable to any of us who have born a knitted creation out of love. She designs each work “stitch by stitch” in her private workshop before partnering with a local manufacturer, and finishes each piece by hand.
Grant’s designs are a fire of entrancing color pairings. Her mesmerizing geometric patterns strike the eye from far away while rewarding a close-up examination. From shapes in ship-yards to the contour of waves Grant finds inspiration in the fullness of life, immortalizing her native Orkney. I looked at these mittens and thought to myself “These look like how I feel gazing out at sea” and guess what they were called? “Tide Mittens”!
Through Knitting from the North, Grant has offered us the ability to take these colors and shapes into hand and join her in their creation. With her we make a piece of art to be treasured for a lifetime. Uniquely, the designs in this book form a complete collection. Rather than merely individual projects, the patterns and colors complement one another so that any of the pieces can be paired as a set of winter wear, not unlike the one-of-a-kind yearly collections that you would piece together as a designer.
As far as what you will learn, though you will need to look elsewhere for detailed how-to instructions on how to work in fair isle, strand, or follow a knitting chart, these patterns will provide practice on an assortment of higher level techniques, with a nice range of difficulty to get good practice before attempting the more difficult pieces in the book. Projects incorporate double-sided knitting, twists, Fisherman’s Rib, Fair Isle, multi-colored knitting and more. I’ve always been afraid of color work, it looked so hard! But I’m doing it! These patterns are beautiful enough to give me that extra push to give it a try, and I started with something simple.
Grant makes it clear what elements she incorporates are from what tradition, which provides a wonderful education on the elements of knitting from northern cultures. The clean contrast of colors is Scandinavian, as in her “Barley Twist Cowl”. Icelandic Sweater Yokes influence Grant’s signature motif as seen below. Even the yarn she uses is Scotland’s original Jamieson’s Shetland wool (which couldn’t be better for making detailed patterns stand out).
Most of these projects are done on size 2 or 3 needles, and a couple in size 5. That being so, these projects take a while, but the result is completely professional and unique. Most of the time I flip through fair isle pattern books without finding what I’m looking for. I want the traditional feeling, but I also want to make something that doesn’t blend in with everything else out there. Hilary Grant’s modern aesthetic stands in a class of its own. Let me leave you with one word–YUM!
Review copy courtesy of Roost Books