Thursday, December 29, 2005

Book Review - Stahman's Shawls and Scarves

Just before Christmas, the LYS called me up and left a message. "Stahman's Shawls and Scarves is in. We'll hold it for a week before sending it back." Indeed? Of course, the very next message was the same woman, very apologetically - "Oh, I see you put a deposit down. We'll hold this until you come pick it up." That's better. No sending my $30 book back! (Although I see Amazon has it for the bargain price of $50. Go with your LYS!)

In general, I'm happy with it. I'm not a shawl person, really, but I burn with desire to make one. Why? Dunno. The challenge, I suppose. And everyone says that this is THE book, and the stuff on the Faroese shawls seems interesting, even though I know I won't really understand it until I try.

But... I just don't think she's a very good writer. So it's kind of hard to get into. (Yes, I understand that it's mostly patterns. But the other stuff is important too, and that's what I'm talking about.) Anyway, when I do force myself to sit down and read it, I learn things. And if you want to knit this type of shawl, I think it's definitely worth the price.

The seaman's scarf parts - look, I've designed one before. They're not complicated. They're more... the exact opposite of complicated. But somehow, her description makes them sound a lot more bewildering than they really are. Which is a problem with a lot of "how-to" books - it's a lot easier to show someone than to tell them, and not everyone has the knack of telling. You get so caught up in teaching every detail, you make it sound ten thousand times harder than it is, and you just confuse your student. I did learn two tricks about seaman's scarves, at least one of which I will definitely try. So she definitely has information I don't - I just wish she disseminated it more clearly.

As far as I can tell (not having knit any yet), the patterns are well done, though, and that's really what you're paying for, right? The charts seem clear and easy to understand. I haven't searched for errata yet - ok, that's not bad. The Robert Scarf apparently has an error, but I wasn't going to make that one anyway. Of course, the one I am going to make is freely available on the web, but if I'd just used the pattern I wouldn't have all that other useful information.

Bottom line: if you want to learn to make faroese shawls, buy this book. Otherwise, a more general shawl book might be indicated. (I'm really happy with Knitter's Magazine's Shawls and Scarves which has a Myrna Stahman article/pattern in it but also has a lengthy errata page that I cannot for the life of me find right now. Definitely find it before trying to knit anything from it.)

1 comment:

Mary Anne said...


I just discovered your blog and am enjoying reading through the posts. I agree about how-to books making things complicated. I tried following directions for sock knitting from several books but finally had someone teach me. I still didn't get it completely, but when I went back to the books, they made more sense.