I have to admit that I didn't know there was that much variety in Nordic knitting until I looked at Norwegian Patterns for Knitting: Classic Sweaters, Hats, Vests, and Mittens by Mette N. Handberg. This book looks at different regional patterns and design techniques from Bergen, Trondheim, West Norway and Selbu (which is the only one I'd actually heard of before) and shares patterns that are traditional to these areas.
There's not anything particularly earth-shattering about these projects, but the author notes the intent is to preserve and pass on the traditional knitting forms, so you wouldn't really expect her to be breaking new ground.
About the Book
- Pages: 122
- Format: hardcover with jacket
- Number of patterns: I counted 36, but multiple patterns are presented in the same section so it's a little difficult to count
- Skill level: the skill levels are also grouped together among similar patterns; a scale of 1 to 5 is used, with 1 being the easiest, and there is one pattern rated 1-2, six rated 2, six rated 2-3, two rated 3 and one rated 3-4 (finishing skills on a couple of projects rater 4-5 or 5)
- Sizing: Sizes are all over the place since some projects are for men and women and some for just women (a couple would also fit larger children); all garments have at least three sizes and some as many as five to seven
- Illustrations: full-color photographs and charts
- Knitting lessons: sections on techniques and correcting mistakes start the book; neither are illustrated with step-by-step photos or drawings
- Publication date: August 2010
As mentioned above, the patterns in Norwegian Patterns for Knitting are divided into coordinating pieces, somewhat like outfits. So, for instance, the Autumn pattern has a top that can be made as a sweater or a jacket for a woman or a man and also includes a Finnish hood (which looks like a slightly more stylish helmet liner, without the mouth covering), mittens and an "ear warmer with cross at top" (I have the book in front of me and still don't know what that means). See why it was hard for me to count?
There are lots of options and variations for these classic patterns, which is nice. And it's nice that the charts are in color, but, the charts are shown in columns of multiple colors and they are not intarsia. The book says different colors are used to show knitters different options, but knitters can probably imagine how a pattern will look in different colors just fine without the distraction of a striped pattern chart.
If you don't already know this about me, I'm not a huge fan of allover graphic patterns and stranded knitting motifs, so there's not a lot in here that suits my particular style, but if you're a fan of Nordic knitting I'm sure there's something here you'll want to knit. The author covers all the basics you'd expect to see in a book of this sort: lice stitches, roses and snowflakes, moose motifs. There's lots of stranded knitting and chart reading.
I'd also like to take issue with the skill ratings. Anything rated a 1 or 2 is single-color (or virtually so) with a simple textured stitch pattern. The aforementioned moose sweater, with bands of stranded knitting followed by a body covered with moose, is rated a 3. Nothing is rated a 5, other than the embroidery skill required on one project. Maybe these designs aren't hard for people who grew up knitting, but in the world of American knitting standards almost all of these patterns would be rated as for advanced knitters.
Because of my personal style my favorite projects are also some of the easiest. I like the Cozy Sweater, a simple Stockinette turtleneck with twisted two-color edgings, and the White and Blue Cotton Tops, cropped vests with fabric button bands and an easy diamond motif.
If you're a fan of classic styles and the folk knitting of the Nordic Region, you're sure to find something you can't resist in Norwegian Patterns for Knitting. These patterns are perfect for people who live in cold climes and want to bring a little color into their warm garments.
I also like the sentiment behind this book, that it is meant to serve as a way to document and preserve traditional styles that aren't being taught to schoolchildren any more. Here's hoping this book and others like it can help spark interest in traditional knitting forms such that more people will keep knitting them into the future.