Lithuanian Knitting by Donna Druchunas and June Hall, project photography by Dominic Cotignola, Double Vision Press, 2015.
Donna Druchunas has an interesting style of knit design.
Inspired by ethnic traditions and enhanced by her own quirky intelligence, she turns out items to dress in from head to toe and then some.
She has collaborated with June Hall on a masterwork which combines history, technique, designs, and even a bit of animal science---all Lithuanian or inspired by Lithuanian knitting.
This review is part of a blog tour to help raise money to publish a printed version of the book, available soon in pdf format.
The book contains over 100 pages of background material: photos, artwork, charts, maps, and text. It is always clear who is writing (the passages are labeled "Donna" and "June"), and both women have clear, engaging tones.
The introduction explains the genesis of this book. The next chapter is called "The Land and the People" and explores the way the town and the country, the people and their stories, provide inspiration for knitted motifs and art in general. Chapter Three, "The History," describes how the Lithuanian National Costume developed and takes a quick look at Jewish Lithuania.
When I signed up for the blog tour, I chose a date that would give me plenty of time to read the book and prepare a review. Or so I thought! Nearing that date and not even halfway through the background material, I skipped ahead to Chapter Seven, "Lithuanian Knitting Techniques." This chapter contains several exciting new techniques like the Bulgarian Cast On, and recipes for custom-sized socks, mittens, and gloves.
The subjects of Chapters Four and Five are Lithuanian Sheep and Wool. I was happy to have the time to go back and read them. It's worth the price of the book just to read June's loving treatment of these topics.
Chapter Six describes knitters and their traditions in over a dozen Lithuanian cities and villages.
Then come Donna's patterns! Nine mitten designs, five glove designs, ten sock designs, and three wrist warmer designs. Here are a few of my favorite socks:
I knit the "Rumsiskes in Summer" sample socks above. Note: made in Litwool, they are not intended to be worn in warm weather, but represent the colors and images of Rumsiskes Open Air Museum in summertime. This place, like Crossroads Village in my hometown, or the Rural Life Museum where I live now, replicates the buildings and tools of yesteryear.
I also started a pair of "Vytis, Lithuania's Knight" gloves for use in the book. I was especially looking forward to the patterned fingers but ran into trouble with them and ended up sending them back to Donna for reworking. I guess I'll just have to knit my own pair!
The final sample was knit in Rauma Finullgarn and more closely matches the colors of the museum gloves that inspired them.
Now for the giveaway: I'm offering the yarn used in the sample on the left (enough to knit a pair of Vytis gloves) to a randomly chosen commenter with a U.S.A. address---Knit Picks "Palette" in Safflower and Midnight Heather. Safflower is a sweet yellow, somewhere between lemony and buttery. The Midnight Heather is a deep navy blended with just enough turquoise to make it shine. The pattern is part of the book, which you can either get as a premium on the Pubslush page or pre-order on Ravelry.
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment by May 26 saying when or where you'd wear your Vytis gloves, or who you plan to give them to. Or tell me your favorite pattern from the book (there are so many good ones, but I rather like Marija's Kneesocks).
Do check out the Pubslush Campaign to raise money for the print version of this worthwhile book, as well as the rest of the blog tour. Good for all knitters, with information on design as well as solidly written patterns, the book has enough background information to attract non-knitters as well. Wonderful!
Disclosure: Kangath received a preview copy of this book from the author. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed in all Kangath's reviews are her own.
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
Click here to join the Kangath Knits email list
for insider updates and special deals.
Ruth Roland is a top Baton Rouge, LA music lesson instructor on TryMusicLessons.com!
Amy Herzog Designs
Knit and Tonic
The Sexy Knitter
Sheep to Shawl
Trappings and Trinkets
Two Sides of the Same Stitch