Book Review: Estonian Knitting 2: Socks & Stockings

  • Anu Pink
  • Estonian Knitting 2: Socks & Stockings
  • Saara Publishing House (2018, Türi, Estonia)
  • 36.80€; isbn: 978-9949-7268-2-0
  • 384 pages, illustrations, photos, diagrams; hardcover.

With the huge popularity of knitting, hundreds of books are published on the subject each year. Many of them are similar, and our eyes begin to glaze over just looking at them all. But the “Estonian Knitting” series is different. Beyond different; like the difference between an earthworm and the moon.

Equal parts history and technical manual, these volumes–the latest of which focuses on socks and stockings–are comprehensive and beautiful. The book is specific and limited, obviously, to knitting in Estonia. But Estonian knitting, presented here in its purest form, is a world heritage craft.

Beginning with an historical overview, Anu Pink’s qualifications as an academic are undeniable. Dozens of historical photos; accession notation excerpts specific to each illustration; original photos of artifacts: each and every one with an institution designation and accession number. No statement is unqualified, no illustration meaningless or omitted. Yet the style is easy to read, and each photo a treasure. Originally published in Estonian, the English translation is excellent, showing a mastery of both languages by Sepp and Allen.

While full of historical details, the book is also an advanced technical manual. Nearly every photo has an accompanying pattern chart, and detailed construction notes. An extensive section on techniques includes full details on some twelve (!) heel methods, and multiple toe finishes. Of the nearly 400 pages, approximately two thirds are sock patterns, neatly categorized by style and geographical location within Estonia.

One word of warning: this is not a beginner’s book of patterns. You won’t be held by the hand and told how many stiches to cast on, or how many rows to knit. But if you have been knitting socks for awhile, and are a fan of Patricia Gibson-Roberts or Anna Zilboorg’s approaches, this book will fit right in to your library.

And finally, as someone with experience in both printing and bookbinding, a note on the book itself: this is not a book that will fall apart. Each gathering is sewn properly, the glue is robust, and the paper & printing is of excellent quality. The text block is a whopping 11.5 inches (29 cm) tall, and an inch (2.5 cm) thick, but shows no tendency to bow or pull at the gutters (where it attaches to the covers). No expense was spared in its production, and you can tell.

This series can be hard to find, as is often the case with specialty titles. We ordered ours directly from the publisher, and including shipping it came to about $100 (Canadian). It arrived within two weeks, packaged well enough to withstand a small war.

Estonian Knitting: Socks & Stockings is a rarity among books: an history, a technical manual, an arts & culture inspiration. The series amazes you, leaves you gasping for more, and then delivers another installment, right on time. We can’t wait for the next volume: mittens & gloves.

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