Son of Book Mini-Reviews

This might be the last one of these for awhile. My expenses are going to go up an incredible amount (just got a new car), and so I'll have less money to spend on knitting references that are fun to read but might never be actually used....

Son of Stitch 'n Bitch (45 Projects to Knit & Crochet for MEN) by Debbie Stoller

Overall Impression: Fun, but doesn't fit my current tastes

If you've read any of the previous Stitch 'n Bitch books, you pretty much know what to expect. The book is a compilation of "edgy" projects, giving knitting a modern style.

I enjoy looking at the patterns, but I'm a bit above the target age group (mid-twenties or so), and lately I've been favoring very classic garments. There are things in the book I'd wear, but I'm not sure I like them enough to take the time to make them. I'm twisted enough that I might make the "Deady Bear," which is a stuffed dead bear complete with bee sticking out of the chest and blood pool.

I have to give Ms. Stoller credit for writing one of the best pieces I've seen on the difficulties of knitting/designing for men. She summarizes the problems very well, and with a wry sense of humor about the whole thing. Meanwhile, interspersed throughout are anecdotes about womens' experiences with the "sweater curse."

It should be noted that the target audience for the book is really women knitting for the men in their lives. Ms. Stoller gives a token nod that male knitters exist, but then goes immediately into gender specific language. It isn't terrible, but it put me a little off.

I don't want to put the book down, because it is very well done and I think a lot of the men here would love the garments included.

Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans (Fishermen's Sweaters from The British Isles) by Gladys Thompson

Overall Impression: Great garments, but care is needed

Just tracing though the copyright on this book is a bit of a challenge. The copy I have is a Dover edition, and Dover is known for not being very clear on printing dates. I do know that Dover first started printing it in 1971, while it was printed under a different publisher in 1969. That 1969 edition was a revision from a 1955 printing.

What all that means is that the patterns in this thing have been around for awhile... and for good reason. They are absolutely fantastic. I've said many times that I see far too many Aran patterns that are too busy. Some of the ones in this book fall into that trap, but there are many more that are complex but still pleasing.

The cable patterns are both charted and presented row by row. Normally, I like the charts, but in this case I don't think they work. The squares on the charts are so small that even if I were to enlarge them on a copier, the resolution would be so poor that I don't think they'd be readable.

A word of caution about the patterns, however: Since they were written so long ago, some knitting conventions have changed since then. Further, it was originally written for the British market, which throws in some further problems for American knitters. These problems are easily overcome, but I was shocked at first when I saw a pattern calling for "knit on size 13 needles," until I realized that when it was written the larger the number meant the smaller the needle...

It also should be noted that the entire book is black and white, with not a single color page. I don't think that detracts in any way from the book, though, since many of the photos were taken before color cameras even existed.

Traditional Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila McGregor

Overall Impression: Great for designers

The book, "The Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting," by Sheila McGregor has been mentioned many times on this site. I don't know if this is the same work, or an abridged version.

Do not expect much in the way of guidelines from this book. While there are more details than "cast on some stitches, knit some stuff, then stop when you're done," there aren't many more details than that. The reader is expected to know a wide variety of knitting techniques, and be able to put them together from only a vague description of how a garment is put together.

I can forgive a lot, though, based on the second half of the book. Page 68 to page 136 is just chart after chart of fantastic Fair Isle motifs. Anyone that has any interest in Fair Isle design work should own a copy of this book just for those. It took me a bit to get used to reading them, since they were done by hand rather than a computer, but after a bit I admired the personal touch that gave the charts.

The book is weak on its talk of color, but there are enough color pictures to give some impression. Really, though, for a full discussion on color in Fair Isle I'd recommend getting the Feitelson book.

Traditional Scandinavian Knitting by Sheila McGregor

Overall Impression: Good, but not as good as her Fair Isle book

This book is very similar to the above book on Fair Isle. It is the same size, has the same sort of charts, and has a very similar style of writing.

The author grants that Scandinavian knitting techniques are probably not as familiar, and so gives more detail about how garment construction works. Still, however, if you are looking for specific pattern instructions this is not going to be the book for you.

Even though I adore the garments in the book, I have to mark it down for one main reason: the organization. The book is divided up by region, and so it has a section on Norwegian knitting, one on Swedish knitting, and so on. While that is interesting from a historical perspective, it means that the charts are scattered throughout the book. I'd rather have them all in one place. If I'm looking for a design that I like, I don't care what region it comes from.

Viking Patterns for Knitting (Inspiration and Projects for Today's Knitter) by Elsebeth Lavold

Overall Impression: Nice projects, but mostly feminine

This book is not what I first expected. Rather than being traditional Scandinavian knitting, the author researched motifs found on ancient artifacts (such as swords, belt buckles, and combs), and made knitting designs that incorporated those motifs.

The garments themselves look great, but the style seems to be for rugged women. I think that the motifs could be put on a more masculine garment, but there aren't many examples of that present in the book.

If there is anything in the book I want to knit, it is some of the hats. For some reason, the headwear really caught my attention, perhaps because the shaping is different from what I normally see, and really captures a Scandinavian feel.

Knitting for Him (27 Classic Projects to Keep Him Warm by Martin Storey and Wendy Baker

Overall Impression: Why, why, why????????

Let me start off by saying that the projects in this book look fantastic. They are definitely classic, masculine, and stylish.

What bothers me about this book is that the authors seem never to have heard of a circular needle. Almost all of the projects scream to be worked in the round, and yet none of them are. Even the "Fair Isle" sweater that is included (which is one of the few projects that I think looks terrible) is worked in pieces and seamed. For that matter, even a hat is worked flat. I had to double check to see that the socks were indeed worked in the round.

I imagine the patterns could be reworked to be done in the round, but since these are classic garments anyway, there are several other sources of such patterns.


I have the Martin Storey book and just automatically cast on for knitting in the round for one of the projects. There are many people - including some of those on this site - who knit flat and don't find it a problem. It's all a matter of taste. I bought this book precisely because the designs are modern classics, stylish and masculine. If you can knit in the round then there is no problem.

kiwiknitter's picture

The G Thompson book, Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans, was published in in 1969 by BT Batsford, and later reprinted in 1971 and 1979. I don't know how published the 1955 edition. I think this is a great reference book if one is wanting to knit ganseys and arans. I like the way the book is divided into geographic sources of the patterns.

As for the S McGregor book, Traditional Fair Isle Knitting, I agree with what you say. It is a great Fair Isle reference book and if one is colour-smart, it's perfect. For someone like me, the A Feitelson book suits better.

In my opinion, both books are for seasoned gansey and FI knitters who are looking for inspiration but not technical advice on the how-to's of each specific stye of knitting.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly