Wendy Knits Lace Review
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Knit blogger Wendy D. Johnson is probably best known for her socks. Her books, Socks from the Toe Up and Toe-Up Socks for Every Body are favorites in the knitting community. Now, with Wendy Knits Lace, the designer branches out beyond cozy footwear.

Lace can be more than a bit intimidating for first-timers. But, while many books on lace seem to assume that readers already know what they’re doing, Johnson takes her readers step-by-step through the process. In the first two sections of the book, she carefully explains the basics of lace knitting, not only offering illustrations to show everything from increases and decreased to various types of joins but also providing some of those valuable lace-knitting secrets that most books overlook. It may seem rather overwhelming—25 pages of explanations and illustrations and charts—but it’s sure to be a helpful guide for new lace knitters (and it’s even a good refresher for more experienced lace knitters).

From there, Johnson dives into the patterns. In this section of the book, you’ll find the usual scarves and shawls, along with some mittens, sweaters, and (of course!) socks—designed for every level of lace-knitting ability. For newcomers, there are some simple scarves, cowls, and hats. For more experienced lace knitters, there are delicate shawls and more detailed socks. And, for old pros, there are more intricate shawls and some beautiful sweaters. Still, it’s surprising to see that there aren’t more beginner-level patterns. Johnson does such a wonderful job of explaining the basics that I expected her to cater a bit more to beginners—with a few more simple designs using larger needles.

The designs, meanwhile, aren’t necessarily unique; you’ve probably seen similar designs in other lace-knitting books. There aren’t any patterns that will truly surprise you—but there are still plenty of designs that you’ll be eager to try for yourself. I especially love the soft-colored Mairi Tam and the eye-catching DK-weight Stacy Shawl (which calls for a comfortable size 7 needle).

As for the patterns themselves, they’re strictly chart-based—so if you have a debilitating fear of charted knitting, you might want to look elsewhere. But, if you’re comfortable with charts—or if you’re at least willing to give it a shot—you’ll have no problem navigating the charts that Johnson provides. They’re all quite easily understandable, with pattern repeats clearly marked. Some are pretty small, though, so you may want to copy and enlarge them.

One thing that’s missing from the patterns, however, is an overall illustration. The pictures are beautiful—and they often provide closer detail shots, too. But when you wear (or model) a scarf or a shawl, it’s usually draped or bunched up in a way that doesn’t allow you to see the finer details. And since Johnson’s designs sometimes come in unconventional shapes (like the Two-Thirds Shawl, which is supposedly two thirds of a hexagon), it would be nice to see a picture—or even a sketch—of what the finished product looks like when it’s lying flat.

For any knitter who’s curious about lace, Wendy Knits Lace is a great starting point, thanks to Johnson’s detailed tips, tricks, and tutorials. The designs are beautiful, too. But if you’re looking for more unexpected lace designs, you might want to pick up Teva Durham’s Loop-d-Loop Lace instead.

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