Thursday, October 08, 2009


As my regular readers will attest, I am incredibly fond of buying things. I reserve a greater fondness still for buying books. One of the few things I like more than buying books is knitting lace. And one of the things I like doing most of all is buying books on knitting lace. This, however, is a rare sort of treat, as good books on lace are few and far between. I have only a couple books devoted solely to lace. (I am still looking for an affordable copy of Gladys Amedro's Shetland Lace. Myfanwe refuses to let me spend that kind of money on a used knitting book. But please don't judge her. She's a muggle. She just doesn't understand. )

I recently -- ok, today on my lunch hour -- purchased a copy of Marrianne Kinzel's 1953 book, First Book of Modern Knitting, which has a few interesting patterns. I've already read all of the substantive text and the line by line of a couple of the patterns.

What did I think? Well, it's mostly stuff I would never make -- doilies and tea cloths, each knit out of crochet cotton, starched, then blocked withing an inch of its life. But her technique is good, and her method of blocking is interesting. And I'm thinking that the same pattern for a 64" square tablecloth, knit in a drapey alpaca or silk blend, would be a wicked shawl! And who knows. I might find it in me to knit a doily or two some day. They look to be quick and would make lovely gifts for the 80 year old women on my gift list. (Wait. I'm the only 80 year old woman on my gift list. Hmm.)

The book is a little anachronistic. It was written for housewives. Housewives in the 1950's. Kinzel's stated aim was " inspire the needlewoman of to-day [sic] to take up, in a new fashion, the old and fascinating art of lace knitting which enjoyed a tremendous popularity in the 18th & 19th century." (I'm not imagining it, am I? She did just call me a needlewoman, didn't she?)

The dedication of the book reads thusly: "A Dedication to ENGLAND, refuge through centuries of the persecuted, the proscribed, the people without a country, where my husband and I sought haven in exile and found most happily a welcome, a country, and a home."

I don't know where she was from originally, but I'm willing to bet it wasn't Ireland.


Angry Professor said...

Oh, yes, yes, yes! I love this book, and I've made a lot of the doilies out of it. You can toss out something beautiful in an afternoon (I use very light crochet cotton) and give them as gifts. They look nice matted on black and framed.

It is delightfully anachronistic.

Aidan said...

So, AP -- does this mean you moonlight as the Angry Needlewoman? I kinda like the sound of it!

I can see myself knitting a doily or two -- if only to mount and frame them. But not until I finish the current WIP, which is the biggest project I've ever taken on and I really don't expect to have it finished until early summer!

Aidan said...

AP/ AN: I just ordered book 2 from with a 40% off coupon!

Ted said...

I think Kinzel was German, but I could be wrong. I think it was mentioned by Montse Stanley in an article in "Threads" magazine on knitted lace. Eons ago.

The first year I went to Meg's Knitting Camp, Joyce Williams was wearing a lovely yellow shawl in the Daffodil pattern (which is in book 2, I think).

Lacemeister Robert Powell did a splendid rework of the Rose of England, incorporating the phrase "a rose is a rose is a rose". You can see that in XRX's "A Gathering of Lace".

And further, the YarnHarlot's wedding shawl was based on one of the geometric tablecloths. Can't remember which one. It's really quite lovely.

Amedro's Shetland Lace was relatively recently reprinted (or republshed). SchoolHouse Press has it. I've worked 3-4 of the shawls from it (one is cued to be knitted again and that rarely ever happens for me) so I consider it a decent investment.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the Schoolhouse Press book site, where you will find things like Alice Starmore and Herbert Neibling in addition to Gladys Amedro. You can thank me in yarn. ::wink::

I have the second book, and the language cracks me up every time - perhaps moreso than the 19th century needlework books do.

Angry Professor said...

So by now you've probably learned that the second book isn't as good as the first?

Sorry, disappeared for a while...

Amy said...

I know nothing about Kinzel, but that dedication makes it sound like she and her husband were Jews fleeing the Nazis. The dates seem right, too.