Icelandic Knitting using Rose Patterns

Icelandic Knitting using Rose Patterns

4.04 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$24.94

Currently unavailable

We can notify you when this item is back in stock

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


Includes 26 beautiful garments and accessories, taking as inspiration traditional Icelandic rose-pattern designs. This charming, stylish and colourful collection includes sweaters, waistcoats, hats, scarves and gloves for the whole family. A section on the history of rose patterns offers a fascinating glimpse into the traditions of Icelanders and a techniques section illustrates all you need to know to create these designs.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 230 x 230 x 12mm | 539.77g
  • Search Press Ltd
  • Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 200 Illustrations, color
  • 1844483118
  • 9781844483112
  • 243,468

Review quote

Nov 08

Helene Magnusson's interest in knitting started when she moved to Iceland to work as a hired hand. On arrival she was given a pair of sheepskin shoes with knitted innersoles; she's never seen footwear like it. Helene learned more on the subject when studying textiles at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and this book details some of her findings, delving into the history of Icelandic knitting. There are 26 patterns inside, including ones for berets, sweaters and blankets. Fans of history and traditional techniques will love this. * Knit Today * June 09

Books in English on Icelandic knitting don't come along very often - and this one - translated from the Icelandic - is an unmissable eye-opener to another knitting culture. The brightly coloured designs using traditional rose patterns on everything from sweaters to baby clothes are stylish, adorable, and totally distinctive. They'd make charming gifts, and the basic techniques and designs laid out in the book can be easily adapted for your own patterns, too. * * Dec 08

Originally published in Iceland in 2006, this paperback of 160 pages combines the results of the author's research into traditional Icelandic shoe inserts with modern designs based on those patterns. It divided members of Leeds/Bradford branch. One member thought the best thing about it was the blanket pattern on the cover and dismissed it as a book of dated patterns made in loosely-knitted garter stitch intarsia. I found it a colourful and inspiring book with the most detailed and well-illustrated instructions for intarsia work that I have come across. It looks as though it is a 'look before you buy' book. * SlipKnot * Nov 08

We're always fascinated by the way people in other cultures knit, and Icelandic knitting traditions are both similar to and different from our own British heritage.

Taking traditional knitted shoe inserts as her starting point, Helene Magnusson takes us on a guided tour of techniques and patterns traditionally used in Icelandic knitting, with intriguing bits of information about the culture that created the pieces thrown in for good measure.

A talented knitwear designer, Helene uses the traditional motifs preserved on the shoe inserts to create colourful garments for the whole family, from bright knits for babies and toddlers through to full-size sweaters for men and women.

The colour combinations are vivid and beautiful, and slightly startling, perhaps, if you're used to the quiet neutrals so often seen on the High Street. Great for kids, brights are a great mood-lifter on grey winter days. We love the jumper Helene has called 'A second eight-petal rose sweater'. Its simple geometric design cleverly conuures up the image of a flower garden without making you feel like a walking rose bush.

All the designs use the intarsia technique, so if you've been wanting to try it why not pick up this book and cast on a pair of mittens? * Simply Knitting * Nov 08

Concentrating on the Rose pattern style of Icelandic knitting, intarsia knitting in garter stitch, this book reveals a contemporary take on a traditional style and technique. From gorgeous deconstructed sweaters with slouchy cowl necks to fitted tank tops, men's hoodies and classic Nordic style jumpers, hats and mittens. There are plenty of cute ear flaps, babygros and zip-up hooded jumpers for babies and kids. Patterns include charts for each particular rose pattern complete with photographs of the real thing. Chapters on the Icelandic knitting tradition and techniques give an informative background to some great ideas. * Knitting * July 08

Chances are you are unaware that the soft-soled fish skin shoe ever existed. You're probably also unaware of the knitted insert (or insole), which was devised to provide warmth and comfort to the shoe wearer. This Icelandic tradition dates back to perhaps the 17th century and incorporated vivid geometric patterns into those inserts meant to be worn (but never seen) for Sunday church outings and other special occasions.

The inserts are thoroughly obsolete and almost wholly forgotten. But thanks to the efforts of designer Helene Magnusson-a French former-lawyer who has made Iceland her home for the past 12 years until a recent move to Luxembourg-Icelandic insert motif knitting has been reintroduced and reinterpreted.

Helene explores the history of the knitted insert in her book, Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns. The book traces the origins of the soft shoe and the hazy beginnings of knitting in Iceland, until the two converge on the knitted insert.

A Little Background

The Icelandic word for "insert" is illepur, and it shows up in a number of unflattering traditional expressions, such as: Hann var mer illepur I annan sko, andskotinn sa arna, delightfully translated as: "For me he was like an insert in one shoe-the devil!" Accompanying the text are photographs of dozens of inserts, football-shaped conundrums that Helene unearthed in various museums during the course of her research.

The patterns incorporated into the fanciest of the shoe inserts are "joyful and challenging," Helene says. Four- and eight-pointed roses of several already-familiar varieties (step, hammer, wind), and also checks, diamonds, and flowerpots, were knitted up, intarsia-style, on a garter-stitch background-a combination that is likely unique to Iceland-in cheerful reds and yellows and blues and greens, often with accompanying striped embellishment or band-woven edges. A pair was considered an extravagant gift.

"At the time the inserts were used, they were the only colorful garments in the otherwise somber brown, black, dark blue or grey wardrobes" of hardworking farm and fishing families, continues Helene. "Everyone liked to own a pair of these inserts; they brought color and joy into extremely difficult lives."

Taking The Insert Out

Helene's book, though, seeks to do more than merely rekindle a tiny, extinguished facet of Icelandic heritage. Its real intrigue lies in Helene's original designs: 26 sweaters, hats, scarves, and mittens in which Helene refashions for a contemporary audience the striking, complexly wrought motifs of the shoe insert. Together they are bold, fresh, and utterly absent of gloom. For all their intense color block stylings, they are also miraculously elegant and modern.

Hammer rose-with a square at its core and its eight petals ending in bludgeon-like forms-is the template for both a vest and a cardigan sweater. It makes for a compelling repeated pattern because "it is graphic and versatile," says Helene, "and looks quite different when you render it in different colors." In the first instance: ochre, black, green, red, and violet on a cream-colored background, with eye-boggling results. In the second, the same colors are woven into a green background for a more demure effect.

Helene favors, too, an eight-petaled wind rose that decorates a long tunic in which the pattern is magnified to a single blown-out rose and a short cowl-necked sweater in which smaller roses repeat. A comparatively subdued black and white checkered insert pattern for a man's sweater is another of the book's highlights.

Native Materials

Helene uses Icelandic materials: Looband, Alafoss Lopi and Lett-Lopi (all 100% new Icelandic wool from Istex and distributed in the United States by Reynolds); and imported Merino spun and dyed in Iceland (Kambgarn). She's chosen Icelandic yarns "for the sake of it," she says.

But she also asserts that the glossy outer hair of Icelandic sheep gives their wool a "particular shine that makes the wool very much alive." And she discovered that natural browns and greys worked mysteriously poorly with non-Icelandic yarn, the patterns knitting up completely flat, "like dead."

The brightest, boldest patterns in the book-and there is something here for every sized member of the family-offer a welcome challenge for a knitter who's ready to try something new and vibrant. A select number of them, in English, are available for purchase from Helene's website. The full range of Istex yarns is readily available from The Icelandic Handknitting Association and in the United States from Reynolds.

Helene's patterns demand, in some instances, Fair Isle knitting-in-the-round and the juggling of multiple bobbins. But any knitter who's not intimidated by what one reviewer called "real knitting" is urged to knit at least one of these up, wear it, and help usher a bright but hidden heritage into daylight.

Lela Nargi * Knitter's Review *
show more

About Helene Magnusson

Helene Magnusson (Luxembourg) has lived in Iceland for two decades, where she's studied textile and fashion design. She is the author of Icelandic Color Knitting: Rose Pattern Insert Knitting in a New Light. Helene is also the cofounder of Knitting Iceland, a company that promotes Icelandic knitting heritage by teaching knitting, publishing Icelandic patterns, and organizing knitting tours in Iceland.
show more

Table of contents

Inserts and rose-pattern insert knitting
Rose-pattern insert knitting - new ideas
Rose-pattern insert knitting
Swiss darning
Band-weave edging (Slynging)
Knitting patterns
show more

Rating details

21 ratings
4.04 out of 5 stars
5 38% (8)
4 29% (6)
3 33% (7)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X