Book Review: Maggie’s Ireland: Designer Knits on Location by Maggie Jackson

When Alexis Xenakis is behind the lens, you just know the photography is going to be superb as is demonstrated in this latest publication by XRX Books. Jackson’s knit designs vary between garments suited for everyday use like the Blackrock Coat knit in mohair and linen, some rather avant-garde patterns like the Enniskerry Top with it’s barely attached sleeves that will appeal to the more adventurous knitter, to a few tablemats and cushions, all carefully photographed using the lush Irish countryside as the backdrop. Jackson plays with slits, tubes, plus plenty of asymmetrical lines while making full use of simple knit, seed and ladder stitches typically worked in three or more yarns making complex appearing designs simple enough for most knitters. 

The chapters, divided by color, open with an artistic palette composed of assorted fibers and natural elements juxtaposed with scenes of natural or manmade items of interest that emphasize the chosen palette. Patterns frequently begin with photos of a particular point of interest giving the feel of taking a walking tour of Ireland in addition to providing views of the designs both worn and hanging. The color schematics accompanying the patterns provide a nice visual key to the stitch and slit placements although they would have been more useful if they had also included actual measurements so gauges could be double-checked, especially important when working with yarn substitutions.

A nice section on linen provides historical background and a renewed appreciation for this ancient natural fiber. The unusual addition of a small recipe section including a berry and blue cheese soup and a cottage cheese with woodland fruits dessert adds a warm, friendly touch. Don’t miss all the personal observations included in the colophon where one can discover the location of the bridge shown in the cover shot, the joys of trying to work in the rain and memories of Jackson’s start as a designer which include sitting in a field with the cows for a good cry. In the back are some simple knit techniques, yarn weight, needle sizes, gauge information followed by photos of yarns from Maggie’s MK Collection with the all important yardage by weight measurements that are so helpful when making substitutions. This lovingly produced coffee table/knitting book has something for everyone with an interest in imaginative knitting and the Emerald Isle.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.