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Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum Hardcover – September 6, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Norwegian Handknits collects thirty patterns for colorful folk mittens, socks, scarves, hats, wristers, handbags, knapsacks, and sweaters—all inspired by traditional knits housed in Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. As the premier center for Norwegian-American heritage in the United States, Vesterheim is home to the world’s most extensive collections of textiles and handknits made by Norwegian immigrants in America and their ancestors from the Old World, providing a link between today’s culture and a rich past. With an introduction reflecting on the history of Norwegian-style knitting and the stories behind the handknits that inspired the patterns, the book is at once a practical guide, a repository of cultural history, and a lovely look at one of the rich traditions knit into the American fabric. Vintage photographs, Norwegian folklore, and recipes accompany the patterns.

About the Author

Sue Flanders has been designing knitwear for more than twenty years. Her patterns have appeared in many publications including Interweave Knits, Knitter’s magazine, Cast-On, and two books by Melanie Falick, Knitting in America and Kids Knits.  She lives in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota.

 

Janine Kosel is an accomplished knitter who has studied under greats like Alice Starmore, Meg Swansen, and Candice Eisner Strict. Janine works at Three Kitten’s Yarn Shop in St. Paul and teaches knitting and tatting workshops at many Twin Cities area knitting and needlework shops.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press; First edition (September 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760334285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760334287
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Good info, patterns are easy to follow with clear concise instructions and charts.
KnitterNatter
The book contains a history of Norwegian knitting, stories about what inspired the handknits, 30 patterns, beautiful photographs, and lots of folklore and traditions.
Bonnie Brody
The patterns that interest me least are the ones that are "inspired" by motifs lifted from items in the collection.
Lynne E.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Lynne E. TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book for the photographs of the museum-quality knitted items in the Vesterheim Museum's collection. (I would love it even more if the photographs of the historical items were larger than thumbnails--they average about 2" x 2.5".) I also love the historical photographs of Norwegians in traditional dress, and the photos of some of the people who actually wore the original knitted items.

The patterns that interest me least are the ones that are "inspired" by motifs lifted from items in the collection. For example, there is a "Reindeer Headband" pattern that uses a standard reindeer motif found on an embroidered pillow cover that was made in 1937; and there is a "Rose or Bridal Whimple" pattern that seems to be a modern design with only a row of stylized roses (or a row of stylized man and woman clasping hands) taken from a motif found on Selbu mittens.

However, there is a pattern for a "Dancing Hat", charted for 35s/37r to 4" that allows you to make a hat that is fairly close to a museum replica of the original. There is also a pattern for "Cross Country Ski Socks" in blue and white, charted at 34s/40r to 4", that produces an absolutely stunning pair of socks sporting an eight-point star motif, with patterned calf gusset and alternating blue and white stitches on the sock sole, that is virtually indistinguishable from the original. The "Ruth's Cap" pattern, for a baby hat, is, unfortunately, written for a much larger gauge than the original, but the information about the original knitter's concept would enable an experienced knitter to reproduce the orignal in a fine-gauge yarn.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I just got my copy of Norwegian Handknits and I love it. It's everything I hoped it would be. According to the introduction is has "30 patterns for colorful folk mittens, socks, scarves, hats, wristers, handbags, knapsacks and sweaters all inspired by traditional knits housed in . . . the premier center for Norwegian-American heritage" in Iowa.

The book contains a history of Norwegian knitting, stories about what inspired the handknits, 30 patterns, beautiful photographs, and lots of folklore and traditions.

The book is divided into four primary sections with patterns included in each: Knitting Techniques, Simple Knitting and Embellishments, Two Color Knitting, and Adventurous techniques.

I especially liked the Ruth Hat which is simple yet lovely and the 2-Thumbed Dancing Mittens. As a sweater knitter primarily, I went ga-ga for the Adult Voss Sweaters, the Sami Sweaters and Voss Family Sweaters. As with most Norwegian knitting, the patterns contain a lot of multi-colored knits.

My primary reason for learning to knit was to learn to knit Norwegian sweaters. Looking at this book, I am reminded of why I first picked up knitting needles and went to a class.
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Zucchini Pickleberg on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The title states, "Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum." Well, what kind of knitted heirlooms would you expect from Vesterheim? Norwegian sweaters, perhaps? Apparently, this book could only cough up two adult sweater designs: a decent Voss pattern, which looks like something Meg Swansen designed ten years ago, and a Lapp-inspired Sami, which looks rather bulky in its design. Not terribly satisfying. Yes, there are enough socks, mittens, hats, a backpack and a clumsy whimple, but I don't consider these under the heading "Heirloom Designs." A better title might have been, "Norwegian Handknits: Quick Projects Inspired from the Vesterheim Museum."

The book is nicely written. The information and photos about Norwegian immigrants is appreciated but if you had any hopes of a solid meat and potatoes book about real Norwegian knitting, which would include substantially more sweater patterns, this is more like a stick of beef jerky and a bag of potato chips.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful By C. Freeman on August 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The authors and editors of this book seem to have fallen victim to the assumption that today's knitters want to make mostly small items--hats, mittens, scarfs, and so on. Norway has been and is still the source of gorgeous designs for sweaters: see the endless stream of pattern books published by Dale of Norway and SandnesGarn and the literally hundreds of free patterns available for download from the Web site of Garnstudio/DROPS Designs.
Granted, these sources do not offer anything in the way of knitting history or examples of historical pieces; that is this book's strong point. The illustrations are very nice, and the historical writing is interesting. Basing the book on the holdings of one museum does give the book's authors an excuse for limiting the designs they offer.
But if you want to knit Norwegian patterns--small items as well as sweaters--this book offers a very limited selection, especially of the latter. You will do much better, both for traditional Norwegian designs and contemporary ones, to use the sources I have cited above. Dale's and SandnesGarn's pattern books are not free, although they are not expensive, either, but these include, for example, not only sweater designs developed for over the years for the Winter Olympics but also some of the most adorable knitting patterns ever produced for babies and young children. If your resources are limited enough that you do not want to buy pattern books, you could still spend several lifetimes knitting the free offerings of DROPS Designs and not exhaust that archive.
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