Aran Lace, Annie Maloney, 2010. $29.95

This isn’t a slickly produced, glossy-paged book. It’s spiral bound, 8.5×11″,  with a clear plastic cover over the cardstock front cover.  All photos, charts and text are black and white.

It’s not the easiest book to purchase, either. It’s not on Amazon.  Annie self-publishes, but does not offer direct sales.

It is available online through the Needle Arts Bookshop (though based in Canada, they’ll ship to the US, though shipping can be a bit pricy).  It’s distributed in the US through Unicorn Books — but that’s for wholesale orders only.  You can go to the Stores section to find which stores have accounts with Unicorn — that doesn’t mean they’ll have this book in stock, but it does mean they could potentially order it for you.  (This isn’t the sort of book every LYS is going to have on their shelf, so just visiting LYSs and hoping to find it isn’t a great option.)

So….why would I recommend it?  Why track it down?

Oh! the content.  Not for just the 101 lace cable charts, which are the extraordinary meat of this book — it is primarily a stitch dictionary. But there’s a lot of other information, too.

The first 24 pages cover  combining lace with cable patterns, different methods of doing so, design elements, project planning (including a discussion of aran sweater design,  pattern layout & sample layouts), and more.   It’s a bonus design lesson.

And the stitch patterns…these are all new patterns, designed by Annie.  In some the lace element is very obvious;  in others, more subtle.    For each pattern she states exactly what sort of yarnover should be used to give the best result for each particular pattern.  Yes, there is that much attention to detail here;  this is heaven for those knitters who are very intrigued by (and obsessed with) technical issues.

Each pattern has a chart, written directions (for knitting flat), and a photo.  The black and white photos crisply and clearly show the details of the stitches.

The patterns begin with simpler stitches (for example repeats of 3 sts by 6 rows, 4 sts by 4 rows).  By the time you get to pattern 14 the patterns are already increasing in complexity.  Many of the later patterns are suited to being the center panel of an Aran sweater:  29 sts by 24 rows, for example.  Pattern 90, in all its glorious twisted stitchiness, is 28 sts by 42 rows.

P92 is a cheat for needle sizes, yarn weights, and — most importantly — two tables that index row repeats & panel width with all the patterns, information that is critical when you’re designing your own project.

Two patterns are included at the end of the book:  a simple scarf, using pattern #25, and a shawl, based on pattern #70.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who enjoys cables & twisted stitches.  You don’t have to use these patterns for sweaters;  you could do scarves, shawls, pillows, afghans….

Update:  I brought the book to SnB last night — at least 2 people demanded to know where they could get copies, and intend to do so;  and everyone else ooh’d and aah’d over the stitch patterns.

I purchased my copy through Nancy at Custom Handweaving.  She’s about a 10 minute drive from my house, but she also does mail order.

Ravelry Group:  Annie Maloney & Friends