This post originally written Jan 2012.
Here is a list of books by authors other than me that can take you on an armchair tour of the world. Even if you don’t plant to knit lace in all of these styles, you will enjoy the history and stories about the knitters and their traditions. They’re not all in English, but they all include lots of photos and charts.
Here are a few of my newer favorite books:
Crazy Lace: An artistic approach to Creative Lace Knitting by Myra Wood
Alas, this wonderful book seems to already be out of print!
From Amazon: Lace knitting doesn’t have to drive you crazy! Well-known fiberartist and teacher, Myra Wood invites you to have fun and be creative while knitting lace. This book is a radical departure from the usual pre-designed patterns. You’ll discover the wonderful world of improvisational knitting and find your own style emerge whether symmetrically or completely randomly. Starting with a comprehensive explanation of “Lace Logic” you’ll quickly learn how and why different types of lace patterns are created, You’ll then explore unlimited approaches to create your own lace treasures from your own designs. Detailed instructions include adapting your own patterns as you knit from existing lace patterns, charting entirely new patterns on the fly or just winging it freestyle without any charts at all. The book also includes complete directions for many geometric shapes that can be used with any Crazy Lace approach as the basis for gorgeous shawls, scarves and stoles. Filled with luscious photography and detailed illustrations, this book will become a treasured tool for beginning lace knitters as well as seasoned heirloom knitters who want to break out of the box and try something different. Filled with inspiration, this is the perfect book for discovering the artistic approach to Creative Lace Knitting.
Wrapped in Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World by Margaret Stove
Arguably one of the world experts in knitting lace, Margaret Stove had finally come out with a new book. And it rocks!
From the publisher: A lifelong student of knitted lace, designer and spinner Margaret Stove shares her personal knitting journey of learning to create lace from scratch. Her spectacular designs are truly the pinnacle of the craft, and Wrapped in Lace follows Margaret as she works on the legendary “wedding ring shawl,” a large, knitted lace shawl so fine and delicate that it can be drawn through a wedding ring.
Accompanying Margaret’s story are in-depth descriptions of each set of lace techniques, patterns, and lace knitting traditions, and offers original patterns for lace shawls, stoles, and scarves. Embark on your own journey in knitted lace as you travel around the world in 12 gorgeous projects highlight knitted lace characteristics from the Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Orenburg, Estonia, and lace motifs of New Zealand, as well as more contemporary European work.
Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush
Nancy Bush is in love with Estonia and she will make you fall in love too! Nancy’s books on Estonian knitting are among my all-time favorites.
From KnitPicks: Deepen your knowledge of knitting in Estonia, home to some of the oldest knitted artifacts in northern Europe, where knitting has played a major role in customs and traditions for hundreds of years. Learn about traditional lace-knitting techniques, including the stardust, twig, peacock, and lily-of-the-valley patterns and their variations, plus different ways to make the distinctive nupp, or subdued bobble. Technique chapters alsoinclude information about modern adaptations of the classic ways of constructing shawls and scarves and adding lace edges.
And here are a few of my long-term favorites:
Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle includes patterns based on traditional designs from around the world. They are worked on larger needles and heaver yarn than many traditional patterns, so this book is great for those who are new to lace knitting to learn many different stitches and patterns without fussing with thread-like yarn and teensy needles.
Gossamer Webs by Galina Khmeleva & Carol Noble takes you on a tour of Orenburg Russia to meet the knitters who live there and to discover the techniques they use to knit featherweight lace shawls from handspun yarn.
Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush is the story of knitting in the Baltic nation of Estonia. It includes infromation about both lace and color knitting. For more on Estonian lace, you’ll have to buy an Estonian book called “Pitsilised Koekirjad”! I don’t know of any US store selling this book, but you can buy it from Martina’s Bastel- und Hobbykiste (Link Broken) on the web. Martina’s shop also stockes many other European lace knitting books and patterns.
Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves (scroll down) by Myrna Stahman includes instructions for making traditional Faroese shawls as well as Seaman’s scarves. There are a huge number of charts in this book, so it’s also a great stitch library.
Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby is a history of the lace knitting of Victorian England. The author takes a fascinating look at the way lace patterns have developed and evolved over time, and examines some of the very first English-language knitting books every published.
Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts by Hazel Carter includes charts for many of the beautiful lace designs from the Shetland Isles.
In Create Original Handmade Lace, Margaret Stove explains in detail how she designs her own lace stitches and patterns inspired by the beautiful flora and fauna in the New Zealand landscape. There are no projects in this book and it’s not really meant for beginners, but it is a fantastic source of inspiration for knitters of all skill levels. (Alas this book seems to be out of print!)
This list is far from comprehensive, so make sure to check out what’s in stock at your local yarn shop as well. You never know what treasure’s you’ll find lurking in the corner of their bookshelf!
You can also check out my book Successful Lace Knitting with patterns and stories about Dorothy Reade.