BOOK RE­VIEWS

This fas­ci­nat­ing book shows how to de­sign knit­ting mo­tifs with hid­den mes­sages us­ing a tra­di­tional Lat­vian tech­nique

The Knitter - - Contents - by Carla Mei­jsen

Our favourite knit­ting books

CARLA MEI­JSEN wants to show us how to cre­ate knit­ting with a touch of magic! Her in­trigu­ing new book ex­plores how to add per­sonal mes­sages and mo­tifs to knitwear, us­ing a Lat­vian knit­ting tech­nique known as ‘magic squares’.

These are based on math­e­mat­i­cal prin­ci­ples, and can be used to gen­er­ate geo­met­ric pat­terns. In this book, Carla uses this idea to in­cor­po­rate coded mes­sages into knit­ting, and also com­bines it with other code sys­tems such as Braille and Morse code to knit up se­cret mes­sages. Not only is it a fun idea to play with, it’s a way to give hand­made items a deeper mean­ing or more per­sonal sig­nif­i­cance.

Carla de­vel­oped her ‘Magic Mo­tifs’ sys­tem af­ter re­search trips to the Baltic states, where she stud­ied the sym­bol­ism be­hind the mo­tifs used in tra­di­tional tex­tiles in­clud­ing hand-knits. She in­tro­duces us to the prin­ci­ple of ‘magic squares’ - 9x9 grids where the num­ber in each cell is gen­er­ated by mul­ti­ply­ing to­gether the row and col­umn num­ber. These pro­duce in­ter­est­ing ar­range­ments of num­bers, which can be trans­lated into colour­work pat­terns; they can also be used to en­code sig­nif­i­cant dates and let­ters (for ex­am­ple, birth dates or mes­sages) into colour­work mo­tifs.

The book ex­plains how to cre­ate your own magic mo­tifs and how to de­sign knitwear with them - us­ing them to form pleas­ing ar­range­ments, us­ing pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive colours, and play­ing with more than two colours. Carla then in­tro­duces other cod­ing sys­tems, such as Morse code , Braille, and com­puter codes in­clud­ing bi­nary and ASCII, and shows how these can be trans­lated into knit­ted pat­terns.

The next sec­tion pro­vides tu­to­ri­als on tech­niques that might be use­ful when con­vert­ing your mo­tifs into knit­ting, and when try­ing the projects in this book. These in­clude Fair Isle, bead­ing, Lat­vian braids, the Turk­ish cast-on, and ‘Braille’ stitch (a re­lief pat­tern used in Latvia).

To help put these meth­ods into prac­tise, Carla of­fers a range of small projects to try: a pair of Lat­vian mit­tens, hand­warm­ers, a cowl, a hat in the Shet­land ‘kep’ style, a cush­ion cover, a draw­string bag, and a mo­bile phone cover.

The whole idea of ‘magic mo­tifs’ might sound com­pli­cated, but they’re easy to un­der­stand thanks to the well ex­plained in­struc­tions in the book. We’re look­ing for­ward to play­ing with these prin­ci­ples to cre­ate per­son­alised knit­ted projects for loved ones.

The book looks at Lat­vian knit­ting tra­di­tions, as well as tu­to­ri­als and projects

Magic Mo­tifs: Knit­ting with a Se­cretMes­sage is pub­lished by The Dutch Knit­ters, priced 27.50 (ap­prox. £24). To or­der a copy on­line, visit www.mei­jsen.net/the­dutchknit­ters/ html­s_uk/welkom.htm

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