When I wrote about the new additions to my knitting library, Projektmanagerin asked whether I could review the Fishermen’s Sweater book. It has been a while since I had to write book reports, but here goes:
“Fishermen’s Sweaters, 20 Exclusive knitwear designs for all generations” is written by Alice Starmore, who, according to the introduction, grew up in a Scottish fishing community. She grew up learning to knit fishermen’s sweaters. The edition I have is the 2009 reprint of the 1995 paperback edition. There is also a hardcover 2000 edition that is currently available from Barnes and Noble, and I would assume other places. I am linking to Barnes and Noble, as I bought the book from them. I am in no way affiliated with them, other then a satisfied customer.
The book has been divided in 5 parts, “Scotland”, “England”, “Ireland”, “Points North, South and East”, and “New World”. It has a variety of traditionally knitted sweaters and variations there off. Traditionally knitted sweaters of the Scottish Isles are knitted in the round, with gussets under the arm, and with the front and back divided for the yoke. The arms are picked up at the shoulders/armholes, and knitted to the cuff. According to the author/designer, this was because the cuffs and lower arms wear out quicker then the rest because of the work fishermen do. Makes sense to me! Thirteen out of the 20 designs are designed this way, according to Ms. Starmore.
The first thing I noticed is that the picture used for the front cover is pixelated and looks like someone messed around with the contrast. Thankfully that does not appear to be the case with the pictures inside the book. In fact, some of the pictures inside the book seem very detailed, and almost seem to pop off of the page. Really too bad that the picture used for the front wasn’t representative.
I love tradition and traditional ways of doing things, so I am thrilled to be able to knit Scottish fishermen sweaters, just like the people of the Scottish fishermen communities used to make them. The book shows usually 3 sizes per pattern, though some of the patterns have fewer. Apparently the sweater patterns were traditionally specifically designed for one size, and whenever the size changed, the pattern changed. It was not “just” filled up with stockinette. As a matter of fact, most of the patterns in the book (with the exception of the multicolored ones) hardly have any stockinette on them at all. It is all patterned with knit/purl combinations, or cables.
The measurements are always (or at least everywhere I have looked so far) given in centimeters and inches. And there are diagrams of each sweater with the appropriate measurements. One thing some people may not be as fond of is that the pattern sections are presented in charts. The language used is British English (i.e. colour instead of color), something that may look somewhat weird to those of us who use American English in every day use, but it seems rather appropriate. Also the yarns weights used are given both in the British terms (4-ply) and the terms more comfortable to those of us at the other side of the pond (Sport, which is actually given as US Sport) In the back of the book there is information like weight/yardage of the yarns used. There is also a section on knitting techniques, knitting abbreviations, and a few translations of British terms to the American terms.
One thing that has bothered me is the spelling mistakes or typos that I have noticed already, and I haven’t read the whole book cover to cover yet. As an example, on page 6, in the center column, about 2/3 down the page it says: “I feel avery strongly that this traditional method of construction should be revived for knitters today, …” It seems to me that either the sentence was changed or that the a was somehow added in front of the word very. But I find it a little sloppy that this and at least one other made it past the proofreaders.
Alright, now for the patterns. THE reason I bought the book. There are 20 patterns, 5 of them are children sweaters, the rest are for the most part unisex sweaters, though most of them are modeled by women, and only one of them has both a male and a female model wearing the sweater. The sweaters have lots of patterning, but mostly, like I said before, knit/purl combination patterns and cables. There are 4 sweaters that have color patterning instead, one of which is actually a combination of color and texture.
The most difficult part of this book is choosing which pattern I might want to make first. It will be a while before I can cast on, and I try really hard not to pick my patterns before I am ready. I just might get startitis (the syndrome that makes you start lots of projects, it can’t be your own fault after all, right?) and start them before I finish some of these other projects…. I really like Stornoway and Eriskay. I also like the 4 Irish sweaters, but them, I am a sucker for cables. The 4 new world sweaters are really neat to. So, I am not going to tell you which one I am most likely to knit, or which one will be first. If you want to take a look at which patterns are included in the book, and you are part of Ravelry, here is an overview of all the sweaters, and if you click on each sweater, you might find more then one picture. The only one not shown is Breton, which is a child’s sweater with blue and white stripes. In my opinion the least interesting of the set, as it is just stockinette stitch and blue and white horizontal stripes.