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Victorian Lace Today Hardcover – November 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Go Big Knits: 20 Projects Sizes 38-54 by
"Go Big Knits" from the editors of Marie Claire Idees
Knit designs from the editors of Marie Claire Idées to ensure that women of all body shapes and types will look—and feel—fantastic. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews


If you don't already have this book, I don't know why. Victorian patterns updated for today's knitter with currrent yarns. I think you will find many of the forty patterns to your taste. I know I did. The wonderful thing about knitting lace is that although it is time-consuming, it is cost effective. This is the most beautiful array of shawls, capes and fichus I have seen in one book. The photography is stunning, the pattern styles are varied - this is one knitting book you should possess. Instructions are clear and the information given on the original patterns and the pattern makers is interesting. Very highly recommended.-KarenPlatt.co.uk This title is a must-have for knitters looking for an excellent introduction to lace knitting. It features truly beautiful and detailed photography of 40 lace knitting patterns. A real inspiration, the designs are revised from original Victorian patterns - with mistakes corrected! - and seeing the way they are presented for modern tastes and in today's delicious yarns make us want to knit them all. Each is well graded by complexity level too so you can easily gauge your project's involvement. Choose from scarves, rectangular and triangular shawls, stoles and capes. The reference section is incredibly useful too. It is a bounty of tips and tricks, and includes clear illustrative diagrams on working knitted-on borders, information on how to plan, design and calculate your own lacework project, how to read charts successfully and also handy yarn classifications and substitution ideas. The historic background notes provide a fascinating extra level of detail, and in addition Jane's revealing final pages guide us through her Victorian adventure - how she went about discovering the marvels of Victorian lace knitting and producing this delightful book.-The Knitter --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jane Sowerby is a former teacher that has done extensice research on Victorian knitting patterns and has given a series of lectures to guilds about Victorian lace shawls. Alexis Xenakis is the publisher of Knitter's Magazine and XRX Books. His photography is featured in more than 15 books, including all three volumes of The Knitting Experience. He lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: XRX Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933064072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933064079
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
...then you'll love this book. Victorian Lace Today has a similar coffee table book type presentation to Meg Swansen's classic A Gathering of Lace. The designs range from what I would consider beginner level to advanced intermediate with the majority falling in the intermediate range. The publisher rates most of the designs as Intermediate with a few falling into the Experienced category and some rated as Easy. In terms of complexity, I see nothing in here like A Gathering of Lace's Mediterranean Lace or Frost Flowers.

It appears that all the designs are charted, which is my preferred method but those who like written out directions may not be happy. There are several designs knit up in Kidsilk Haze and similar yarns, many done in laceweights like Zephyr and some done in sport/dk weight yarns like Fiesta's La Luz. One of the nice features is a yarn comparison chart in the back of the book, offering advise about substitutions and emphasizing that substituting yarns is nothing to fear. I noticed several of the patterns mention the possibility of using a heavier yarn and doing fewer repeats.

The general tone of the book seems to offer reassurance that lace isn't all that hard without trying to dumb down the whole process. There's a nice section in the back that encourages you to design your own shawl and offers lessons in designing both centers and edgings.

The presentation of the shawls and scarves is both lovely and informative. Images are clear and sharp and the lace is generally spread out in a way that allows you to actually see the design. There is a bit of history offered but not an overwhelming amount. I'd say it's just enough to give you an appreciation of the genesis of the designs and the time and place in which they were orginally created.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been anticipating this book for a while, and it does not disappoint. Counting all of the variations, there are over 40 designs in the book. About half of them are on US size 7 (4.5 mm) needles in yarns like Kidsilk Haze, less intimidating for those new to lace knitting. For the more experienced lace knitter, the sections in the back of the book have great information about understanding lace patterns and adjusting them to suit, as well as neatly fitting borders around corners.

Most of the patterns are rectangular stoles with all-around knitted-on borders. There are a number of scarves that make use of fancy edging patterns on the ends, with a fairly plain center section for fast knitting. There are a few triangular shawls, and a very dramatic full hexagon and circle.

The photography is gorgeous. Locations are mostly around Cambridge or in the house and formal gardens at Belton House. The scarves and shawls are mostly in bright colors -- think hot pink, chartreuse, coral, scarlet. In addition to the artsy "shawl on a bridge railing" sorts of shots, there are plenty of good close-ups for most of the items, allowing you to see detail.

So what keeps it from a full 5 stars? First, if you're looking for really intricate lace patterns, this is probably not the book for you. Most of the designs are fairly geometric with short (though easily-memorized!) repeats. The thing that irritated me the most is that there's no comprehensive listing of all of the projects. The main table of contents lists the chapters (largely divided by source of patterns) and each chapter has its own table of contents listing the designs. But there's no way to quickly find something if you can't remember where it was from.
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Format: Hardcover
Unquestionably this is a beautiful book visually. However, it is rife with mistakes! Be sure to look online for corrections and clarifications. I think there are more errors than have been found thus far.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully compiled book. It is not only a pattern book but also would make a nice coffee table book. Each section is preceded by a history and background of the area they are trying to describe. I really love this book, the only reason I did not have it more then 3 stars is that there are some mistakes in the charts for the patterns so you when you read them be careful to make sure they make sense to you. Also some of the yarns they used are difficult to find or EXTREMELY expensive so you may want to substitute. I jumped right in with several patterns and they work out very nicely. What ever you create from this book will truely be a work of art.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had put off purchasing Jane Sowerby's book, because the title suggested little old ladies and their heavy woolen shawls. I couldn't have been more mistaken. The volume is part knitting instruction--for some of the most incredible lace shawls I've ever seen--part coffee table book, and part history book. (I thoroughly enjoyed the information on the Victorian authors who produced some of the first popular knitting books. the author's comments on the geneology of lace patterns was especially interesting.)

The presentation of the early abbreviated terms left me grateful for our more simplified approach. I am, however, used to an abbreviated verbal format and find chart methods a little confusing. I'm prone to getting off the track. Sometimes I rewrite them into a verbal format myself. I have to admit rather easily. Despite this, I acknowledge that the chart method is much more representative of the finished work. Not to mention that its economy of space, at least in this instance, left far more room for the incredible photography.

The book is chatty and includes information on some of the venues in which the splendid photography was done (mostly in and around Cambridge, ala the BBC Morse Mysteries) and leaves one with the urge to visit "Merry Olde England!"

The designs are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The black shawl with the leaf design is especially incredible, but it would take the patience of a saint to complete--which does not in any way describe me. The beginner will be able to start with the more simple patterns at the beginning of the book which also should be more easily completed. The more advanced patterns will most certainly coax the beginner to move forward with their technique, and will give the experienced individual a challenge.

Even just as a "wish book," Victorian Lace Today is a must have!
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