If you are a history buff, a knitting nerd, and/or a design freak, Knitting Around the World: A Multistranded History of a Time-Honored Tradition is sorely needed on your bookshelf.
The book is broken, generally, into geographic areas. But, the difficulty of untangling the threads of knitting traditions between, say, Norway and Sweden is discussed.
At the beginning of many traditions, history gives way to folktale (fanciful folktale, at that), and these stories are related, but also given with a grain of salt, which is nice.
You could read the book cover-to-cover, as I am attempting. Or, you could zoom in on the area that interests you most.
This is not, primarily, a pattern book, but there are 20 patterns in it, in case you want to try knitting open-work stockings or Red Cross gloves for yourself.
Some regions that are often skipped over are covered very wel in this book, I think. Don't miss the sections on China, India, and Utopian Knitting (the Shakers and the Mormons) in the United States.
I'm only about halfway through, but here are the highlights, so far.
- The photographs are gorgeous. Both archival images and new images of knits both new and ancient help round out each knitting tradition.
- Profiles of knitters who are using their special tradition in their own way pepper the work. This is a nice way to see how things are moving forward and also a great way to discover new-to-you designers.
- Nargi's writing style is clear and easy-to-read, even playful. This helps keep the metric ton of information she's dropping from being too overwhelming.
- She also uses a LOT of sources, which is nice. A bibliography in the back of the book could serve as a jumping-off point for further reading to the intrepid knitter/historian.
Overall, a terribly interesting book that is worth putting your needles down to read. I only wish it came as an audio book - but it would probably be as long as Homer's Odyssey.