Quick Nordic Knits: 50 Socks, Hats and Mittens by Ann-Mari Nilsson may be slightly misnamed. Yes, socks, hats and mittens are inherently relatively small projects and thus don't take as much time as, say, a Fair Isle sweater.
But these projects are worked with yarn that's either 300 or 600 meters per 100 grams (that's 328 or 656 yards), and 300 meters per 100 grams figures out to something between super fine and fine weight. Sometimes the yarn is doubled or tripled, but most projects use small needles and fine yarn -- not a good combination for quick knitting.
Still, these Nordic-inspired patterns are pretty, and the idea of coordinating socks with your hats and mittens is kind of fun.
Quick Nordic Knits includes 50 patterns: 15 hats, 12 mittens and eight hats. Some of the patterns coordinate, for instance, there's a hat, mittens and gloves that all include a classic star motif, and there are patterns for all three that use lice stitch (single stitches scattered on a background of another color). A minor complaint is that the patterns aren't in the same order in each section, so you'll have to flip through or consult the table of contents to determine if there are coordinating patterns.
As mentioned earlier, the patterns use a rather fine weight yarn, and the yarn used in the book is actually Scandinavian so it's difficult and expensive to obtain in the states (though of course yarn can be substituted). Many of the patterns call for needles that come out as half sizes in the United States needle grading system (for example, a 2.5 mm needle would be a size 1.5 in the states), and because those sizes aren't standard in the states, knitters may need to buy new needles before they can knit many of these projects.
The patterns are suited to a wide range of skills -- 13 are rated easy, 16 for intermediate knitters and seven for experienced knitters. There are wrist warmers and ankle warmers (basically sock cuffs with a little strap that goes around the ankle), which are easy introductions to circular knitting and basic colorwork for those who haven't used these skills before.
All of the projects are sized for an average woman; if you want something bigger you could probably just knit with a heavier weight yarn (which would indeed make them quick knits).
Some of my favorite patterns include those using the spruce pattern, a graphic tree motif; the easy striped earflap hat; Stripes, a striped hat that could also be worked in a checkerboard pattern; the Cuffed Beanie, an easy project worked in Mistake Rib; the super-basic Tweed mitten, a great introduction to that type of project; the pretty, detailed Stars mitten, a Nordic classic; and the basic striped, ribbed Ragg socks, which are sure to become favorites of anyone who wears them.
In addition to the full project photos, small pictures in the margins show swatches of how the project would look worked in a different color, freeing knitters from their insistence on knitting a project in the same colors it's presented in.
There are lots of nice, basic patterns here, with basic meaning something more like classic than necessarily easy. There's a beret, a slouchy hat, a skullcap, a stocking hat, and all sorts of mittens with different variations on how the thumb is worked. This book could serve as a reference for hat and mitten shapes even if you didn't work any of the patterns exactly as presented.
For knitters who enjoy the look of Scandinavian knits and who won't be scared off by the fine weight of yarn used in the projects, Quick Nordic Knits is sure to become a favored treasury offering a wide range of patterns.
People who are looking for truly quick knits, though, probably ought to look elsewhere (or stick to the couple of patterns where the yarn is doubled or tripled to make the work go a little faster).
Publication date: October 2010