Victorian Lace Today Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Victorian Lace Today Community Reviews - Find out where to download Victorian Lace Today available in multiple formats:Hardcover,Paperback Victorian Lace Today Author:Jane Sowerby,Alexis Xenakis Formats:Hardcover,Paperback Publication Date:Nov 1, 2006

Within this compendium, the very first knitting books have
been translated from sketchy, often-inaccurate instructions into
richly-colored, exciting patterns for modern-day accessories. This blend
of history, mystery, and hands-on technique debunks myths about
Victorian life as it inspires beginners and ambitious knitters alike.
Included are instructions for Victorian lace as the Victorians never saw
it—in glorious detail, up-close and on location in and around
Cambridge, England. The lace patterns progress from the first, most
basic, edgings to the sophistication of "real" lace. Forty
patterns are included—scarves and shawls, capes, and
fichus—with comprehensive information on the tools and techniques
of lace knitting for beginners and enough challenges to keep
experienced or ambitious knitters engaged. Delicate and decorative,
historical lace patterns are within the reach of today's
knitters in this book of adventurous ideas with a vintage

Average Ratings and Reviews


881 Ratings






Ratings and Reviews From Market

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Reviews for Victorian Lace Today:


February 21, 2007

Mistakes in Directions!
Unquestionably this is a beautiful book visually. However, it is rife with mistakes! Be sure to look online for corrections and clarifications. I think there are more errors than have been found thus far.

February 9, 2008

Victoriab Lace Today
Shame that the instuctions in the book are not as beautiful as the photographs. More and more books from The Knitters Magazine Group are so poorly proof read that it is hard to justify the expense anymore. Gone are the days it seems that companies take pride in what they are producing and yet they expect us to pay large amounts of money for books of poor quality. As a very experienced knitter I have become saddened by the downturn in accuracy so have turned more and more to my older books and patterns where accuracy was a measure of pride.

March 26, 2007

I had put off purchasing Jane Sowerby's book, because the title suggested little old ladies and their heavy woolen shawls. I couldn't have been more mistaken. The volume is part knitting instruction--for some of the most incredible lace shawls I've ever seen--part coffee table book, and part history book. (I thoroughly enjoyed the information on the Victorian authors who produced some of the first popular knitting books. the author's comments on the geneology of lace patterns was especially interesting.)

The presentation of the early abbreviated terms left me grateful for our more simplified approach. I am, however, used to an abbreviated verbal format and find chart methods a little confusing. I'm prone to getting off the track. Sometimes I rewrite them into a verbal format myself. I have to admit rather easily. Despite this, I acknowledge that the chart method is much more representative of the finished work. Not to mention that its economy of space, at least in this instance, left far more room for the incredible photography.

The book is chatty and includes information on some of the venues in which the splendid photography was done (mostly in and around Cambridge, ala the BBC Morse Mysteries) and leaves one with the urge to visit "Merry Olde England!"

The designs are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The black shawl with the leaf design is especially incredible, but it would take the patience of a saint to complete--which does not in any way describe me. The beginner will be able to start with the more simple patterns at the beginning of the book which also should be more easily completed. The more advanced patterns will most certainly coax the beginner to move forward with their technique, and will give the experienced individual a challenge.

Even just as a "wish book," Victorian Lace Today is a must have!

January 25, 2007

This is a beautifully compiled book. It is not only a pattern book but also would make a nice coffee table book. Each section is preceded by a history and background of the area they are trying to describe. I really love this book, the only reason I did not have it more then 3 stars is that there are some mistakes in the charts for the patterns so you when you read them be careful to make sure they make sense to you. Also some of the yarns they used are difficult to find or EXTREMELY expensive so you may want to substitute. I jumped right in with several patterns and they work out very nicely. What ever you create from this book will truely be a work of art.

January 11, 2008

mercy for the chart-impaired
I understand why knitting book authors rely on charts for the sake of saving space. But some of us are simply unable to read the charts and knit. I have trouble even reading a line with nothing in my hands but a pointer. In this day of web space, though, there's no reason for the charts not to be available somehow online or via email or SOMETHING. This book was a gift and I am diligently trying to translate one section of one pattern into knitting english and after 3 hours, I have 5 rows done and I know I not the only one so impaired.

June 8, 2007

Great fashion pictures -- but not designed to please knitters!
This book uncovers and reveals great knitting patterns from the 19th century, and those of us who love knitting lace are understandably eager to own it. I recommend it highly for the border patterns and the inspiring way they've been used to create items we'd use today. Definitely NOT your great-great-grandmother's lace. HOWEVER, the photos are fashion shots, and frustrating to those of us who are knitters and want to know what the knitting really looks like. Several of the scarves use an unimaginative drop stitch for the body of the scarf (I am certain there were other choices to offer!) and the first item -- a mesh shawl with beaded fringe -- is certainly not lace. Given how few lace knitting books are on the market, however, and how eagerly they are snatched up by those of us who want them, I have to say that this colorful, modern book is worth the money for the new take on lace. It was a pleasure to page through and see projects that didn't look as if they belonged in a museum or historical recreation. I've marked seveal for holiday projects and purchased my yarn. If I change out a stitch pattern -- well, those borders really are yummy!

June 11, 2007

Nothing new
Ordered this without having seen it before. I'm an avid lace knitter and am disappointed in this book. It is all shawls, scarfs, and stoles. Nothing new. One can take any lace pattern and knit it into a rectangle. Nice photography.

August 1, 2007

Sowerby's "Victorian Lace Today" - pros and cons
I like the historical references in this book and am keeping it mainly because of them. The patterns themselves are also good and varied enough with round, square, triangle and rectangular shaped scarfs and shawls to retain one's interest. I don't like the font, which is quite light and somewhat tricky for 50 year+ eyes to read at night, and the photos which aren't always as revealing of the actual lace patterns themselves as I need when I'm trying to figure out a chart, though they are in themselves quite pretty. Also, there are still quite a number of errors, so be sure to visit the publisher's errata webpage.

January 25, 2007

What a fabulou fabulous book. Even if I never make anything from it, it's worth it because it is just SO beautiful. Fabulous coffee table book - except it will encourage your visitors to ask you to knit for them!

Anyway, that said, I see myself making quite a few projects from this book. There are a few projects that are aimed at beginners, but a couple of intermediate designs look good to me too. Lots of really cool designs. Now all I need is time....

It's also worth it as a demystifier of lace knitting. She doesn't take anything for granted, which is great.

Probably one of my best buys for quite a while.

January 9, 2007

Absolutely gorgeous
I love lace knitting and am fascainted by Victorian lace, but the vintage patterns can be very hard to duplicate. This book gives a bit of background on knitting amongst the Victorian middle class, the pattern publications, and the pattern designers themselves, which is fascinating. The actual patterns in the book are skillful adaptations of vintage patterns for today's knitter. Be warned, however, that there are only a few beginner patterns in this book, and one should be comfortable with lace charts.

With the popularity of knitting being what it is today, so many new books are written for the beginning knitter. It is good to see a new book written with the more experienced knitter in mind.

July 19, 2010

This is why people knit
Most of the knitters I know are drawn to knitting for the creativity of the craft. We could buy sweaters, hats, mittens for our loved ones, toys and blankies and darling baby underthings, often in materials as fine as those we use for our knitting. And we can often buy them for less money than we spend on our lovingly hand-painted yarns of squishy, silky fiber. We knit because we want to knit some love into every stitch; because we can afford to; because we have the skill and creative energy; and we knit because we have the time.

Knitting was a more utilitarian pursuit until the Victorians, who are sometimes said to have invented the leisure class, took it up as a leisurely pastime. This gorgeous book from author Jane Sowerby traces the growth of creative hand knitting of lace from the 1830's to the end of the Victorian era. During these decades the codification of knitted lace designs began to appear in pamphlets and magazines. There was no standardization of directions and abbreviations, so some of these patterns are unknittable today; but they're a treasure trove, and Sowerby has now made them so much more accessible to modern knitters with this book.

Though Victorian Lace Today is much more than a pattern book, it does contain 38 patterns for shawls, scarves and stoles that are taken straight from the pages of The Ladies' Knitting and Netting Book, The Ladies' Assistant, and other publications of the era. Sowerby knitted them up, often in her own homespun yarn, and translated the designs to modern language for the modern knitter. In addition to the patterns (all of which are charted), this volume contains a wealth of general information on shawl construction, and deconstructs the patterns in a way that makes the reader feel it's all do-able. Yarn choices are discussed in a very helpful way.

Beyond the patterns and instructions, however, "Victorian Lace Today" is a big, beautiful book with glorious photography. The shoots were done in the English countryside, along the River Cam, in London and Brighton, and at the wonderful Belton House, where some filming was done for the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice." Photographer Alexis Xenakis captured the detailed shots of the knitted pieces, along with wonderful vistas of lawns, formal gardens, and half-timbered buildings. The photography and the social history would make this book an object of desire, and then there are the knitting patterns too.

I understand that the cautious knitter should look on the publisher's website for errata before picking up yarn and needles for one of these projects. That's a price I'm willing to pay for the pleasure of owning this book and, energized by Jane Sowerby's gift, I look forward to undertaking some of the projects in it. They are a living link to a rich creative history.

Linda Bulger, 2010

March 2, 2009

One of the Most Beautiful Knitting Books I Have
Wow! I drool over this book. I love to knit lace and this book has the most beautiful presentation of lace projects that I have ever seen. There are photographs of flower, wood, bridges and natural objects to complement the lace projects. The colors are luscious. If I had enough time in my days, I would knit every project in this book!

The projects are primarily shawls and scarves and vary in degree of difficulty. I think that one should be an intermediate knitter to take on one of these projects. As an experienced knitter told me when I did my first lace project (which I called my 'Chaos blanket'), "Learn to Count". Counting is the key to lace knitting.

I recommend this book for every lace knitter and for anyone who has ever dreamed of knitting lace. This book is inspirational and one that you will look at over and over for its beauty and ideas.

Jan 12, 2009

An updated look at the lace-knitting of Victoriana, including original and historic patterns. Victorian times brought new interest to knitting with the advent of printed patterns, allowing knitters greater complexity and a larger audience when sharing techniques and designs. The lace contained in this book is gorgeous and it also includes some historical notes. I would have liked to see more realistic outfits on the models (seriously, they look like they were dressed by kooky church ladies!) and An updated look at the lace-knitting of Victoriana, including original and historic patterns. Victorian times brought new interest to knitting with the advent of printed patterns, allowing knitters greater complexity and a larger audience when sharing techniques and designs. The lace contained in this book is gorgeous and it also includes some historical notes. I would have liked to see more realistic outfits on the models (seriously, they look like they were dressed by kooky church ladies!) and larger charts (seriously, the charts are painfully cramped), but if you just let the work speak for itself, this book is a delight! ...more

Dec 02, 2015

Full of yardage and other errors - in several places, the item as knit does not match the item photographed. Some photos are out of focus.

Jul 19, 2018

I haven't tried any of the patterns yet but I look forward to doing so. The non-pattern pages made for interesting reading, and the photographs are wonderful. I especially enjoyed the photographer's account of her meeting with Jane Sowerby.

Jun 02, 2018

I love this book and I have already made a few Shawls from the patterns. Nicely written and lovely photos. I cant recommend it highly enough!
The cover of mine has been put on upside down making it quirky like me.

March 18, 2016

Beautiful, but yarn estimates off.
The shawls are lovely, and this is as much a coffee table book as a pattern book. However, having now made two of the patterns in the book, the yarn amounts listed in the book are WAAAAAAY off. On one of the shawls, the pattern called for 5 balls and I ended up using 7. I've never run into that problem in any other knitting book, and I know other knitters have encountered the same problem with other patterns in the book, so I'd be very careful if I decided to make anything else from this book.

March 25, 2015

This book is full of 40 beautiful pieces to knit, one more beautiful than the next. When it arrived I was so surprised at just how wonderful this book is. The photographs are stunning, the history is interesting, and the advice as to how to design your own shawls are a great addition too. It is indeed Victorian Lace for Today as even my hip teenage daughter admires the shawls and scarfs wanting some for herself. It will be hard to decide which to do first. I am past being surprised when knitting books have errors in patterns, I assumed this one would also. One reviewer said the book has many errors. I will be sure to look online for corrections before starting any pattern but I do this anyway with every book.

Jul 07, 2017

Every project had a story. I enjoyed reading it and have many projects on my to do list. The pictures are gorgeous.

September 2, 2015

Gorgeous Book
This is a gorgeous book with gorgeous patterns. The only reason I would not give it a 5-star rating is because of the complexity of the patterns. There are many techniques that are illustrated in the back of the book, so you end up having to find those to accomplish making a pattern. The one shawl I tried was fine until I got to trying to knit and attach the border; that ended up being a really confusing process, and I did give up and never finish the shawl.

Mar 02, 2011

I've dipped in and out of this book mainly for the patterns. Still trying to decide whether to buy it and break my rule of not adding to my shelves. I decided a while ago that I'm only buying from charity shops and then handing them back to re-sell or using the public library. Use it or lose it. We can't lose our libraries!

I might have to buy this as there are lots of lovely patterns but I don't find them easy to follow. I eventually realised that it is actually an American book even though all I've dipped in and out of this book mainly for the patterns. Still trying to decide whether to buy it and break my rule of not adding to my shelves. I decided a while ago that I'm only buying from charity shops and then handing them back to re-sell or using the public library. Use it or lose it. We can't lose our libraries!

I might have to buy this as there are lots of lovely patterns but I don't find them easy to follow. I eventually realised that it is actually an American book even though all the photos are of England, confusing! That's probably why I'm having a bit of bother. Must try harder! ...more

Jul 04, 2008

This book is absolutely fabulous! There are tons of projects, and marvelous descriptions for everything. Several of the items are made with one of my favorite yarns, Rowan Kidsilk Haze. The final chapter of the book has photos of all the yarns used in the projects. There are also suggestions for yarn substitutions.

I can hardly wait to start something from here.

Sep 19, 2012

I like this collection of patterns. It is primarily lace shawls and scarfs. They are beautiful and practical. There's a wide variety of types as well. The writer has collected old Victorian patterns and have adapted the instructions to the current conventions and with clarity.

There are gorgeous pictures and a few bits of history interspersed throughout the book.

Dec 08, 2009

One of the few knitting books I own and one of two to travel to Japan with me. Also the one book I've knit the most projects from. This book is amazing and beautiful; it lives on the "show" bookshelf full of yarn and whiskey for people to peruse instead of on the coffee table, but it is our coffee table book.

August 27, 2016

Such a disappointment
I don't know who was responsible for the layout of this book, but this is not a knitting book. It's an art book that just happens to feature knitted items. The charts are tiny. Out of 40 (?) patterns, 3, maybe 4 are photographed to show the pattern on the finished shawl. The rest are "artfully" draped (scrunched up) on models, and planters, and shrubbery. (Because of course, that's what shawls are used for, to keep stone planters warm) In one particularly heinous example - there's a two page picture of the center support of a bridge. There's a shawl hanging off that bridge. The shawl is maybe 1/20 of the entire picture. That's just ridiculous.
As I said, I don't know who was responsible, but Jane Sowerby, your name is on this. As a knitter and designer you know full well what people want in a pattern book, and you have failed spectacularly to provide it in this book. If you didn't have final approval you should have tried harder to get a book that was useable. If you did have final approval, you should be ashamed of yourself.
I will never again purchase anything with your name on it.

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