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Mary Thomas's Knitting Book

Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns

by Mary Thomas

Rating for each:  5 sheep (excellent)

 

My knitting life divides neatly into B-1980 and A-1980. During the B-1980 era I owned no knitting books - only pattern booklets and a few magazines like the original Vogue Knitting and two others long out of publication. My only reference was my ten cent copy of the Learn How Book bought at Woolworth. Although I had made 3 afghans, a coat, 2 suits, numerous sweaters, 3 pairs of socks and some baby items, my stitches and techniques were quite basic. I had not tried lace nor color work. While I had been inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann's knitting series shown on channel 9 in the 70's (?), I had not really applied her ideas to my knitting.

 

It was around 1980 that I started buying the knitting books that were now appearing in the market. Because of them my knitting began to be transformed. I devoured them cover to cover and was inspired, or compelled, to try all the "new" techniques and approaches revealed in them and my education still continues. I'd like to tell you about two of those books that initiated my collection of knitting references.

 

Mary Thomas's Knitting Book, Dover Publications, 1972 (first published in England in 1938).

Mary Thomas is deservedly the first guru of knitting. She covered basics, lace, color work, shaping, construction, knitting with beads, embroidery, socks, mittens, shawls, even frame or rake knitting (think "machines"). Although cables were not mentioned, she had great chapters on shaping, selvedges and the movement and characteristics of different knitted fabrics and stitches. Best of all is a multitude of drawings of every possible technique you'd like to see. This book was a revelation to me and ranks as a prize possession.

 

Her companion book, Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns, followed in 1943 (reprinted by Dover in 1972).

This book is a delight. Every conceivable type of stitch is included with several good examples of each, and frequent digressions on where and how the stitch might be used. There are lots of clear photographs of the fabrics and innumerable, absolutely wonderful drawings of the completed stitches, as well as the needles shown in the process of making the stitch, -- all in black and white. This was 1943 and they look exactly as if they might have been done on a computer! They are superb. She also includes charts for all the stitches; they use her own set of symbols - not anything we would see today, but they are surprisingly clear.

 

This was the first time I had seen anything resembling a stitch dictionary with all the great step-by-step instructions. I was truly "blown away" and even now, for a book 63 years old, I'm still impressed.

 

If you ever chance to find either of Mary Thomas's masterpieces, don't even hesitate - just grab it, and run home with it.

Respectfully submitted,

Virginia P.

Buy Mary Thomas's Knitting Book from Amazon.com

Buy Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns from Amazon.com

 

 

 


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