book review – Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits by Barbara Benson

Barbara Benson has a new book out, Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits.

Cover: Big Yarn Beautiful Lace by Barbara BensonI admit, I was skeptical about this book, I’m a knitter who loves tiny needles and fine yarns. Would I like a book on chunky lace knits?


Why? Barbara Benson loves to ask, “What if?” Her newest book, Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits is the result of experiments and exploration into knitting lace, not with the delicate fine yarns traditionally chosen, but with big bulky yarns. Included are twenty designs that answer what if this was knit in bulky.

For those new to lace knitting, the Getting Started with Lace section at the start of the book will be beneficial. Here, Benson explains what lace knitting is, how to read a chart, two different methods of blocking and why one is better than the other, and some words on gauge. Do you need to read this section if you are comfortable knitting lace? No, but I think you should. This introduction is well written! At the end of the book, the techniques are detailed. Why at the end? It helps you get to the projects quicker and not everyone needs a step-by-step on how to work a circular cast on. If you do need to learn, or want a refresher, the instructions are clear with lots of photographs to help. At this part of the book is also where you’ll find a list of abbreviations. One small touch I like is the visual index!

The twenty designs explore different techniques and accessories. While there are the expected shawls, there are also scarves, cowls, fingerless mitts, hats, a throw, and a vest.

The instructions are both written and charted. Where necessary, a schematic is included. Gail Zucker‘s photography is stunning too. The project yarns cover an array from those found in big box stores to what is found on a shelf in a local yarn store. Many of the projects include notes for modification, as most projects are one size, these notes will help make a project fit a larger or smaller recipient. For example, a stockinette section on a poncho may be worked over fewer stitches before the lace panel, making it shorter.

Most designs in the book caught my eye. Shoot the Moon for its simplicity, em>Asymmetrical Balance because it’s something that isn’t overly feminine. The em>Coefficient of Modulation, as this cowl is worked in a technique Benson explored in her first book, Mosaic Lace. Giant Elves made me stop and giggle for the mental image it portrays. The Hearts in Chains poncho also looks like a nice knit, the large stockinette section is calming and the lace motif section easy to read. Avasarala made me pause because of its unique and versatile shape. You can learn more about the book and see the designs at

This is a stunning collection that shows that the answer to “What if Lace is writ large?” is “Many delightful possibilities!”

What would you knit?

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

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