First, the facts:
Author: Kari Cornell, Editor
Published by: Voyageur Press, 2009
Type: Essays, Stories, Pictures
1. Knitting the First Stitch
- Learning to Knit by Elizabeth Zimmerman,
- Her Hands by Betty Christiansen,
- Learning to Knit: A Romantic Tragedy in Four Acts by Michael Dregni,
- Tales of a Knitting Neophyte by Kari Cornell,
- Knit-Surfing the Subway by Suzyn Jackson
2. The Yarn Shop and Beyond
- So Begins a Fetish by Lela Nargi,
- The Accidental Spinner, or Husband Discovers a Wheel by Naomi Dagen Bloom,
- Knitting by Jamaica Kincaid,
- A Bunch of Little Old Ladies by Kay Dorn
3. Handknit with Love
- Two Sweaters for my Father by Perri Klass,
- Knitter’s Jitters: How I Stitched my Way to Wedding Day Bliss by Margret Aldrich,
- Amelia by Melanie Falick,
- The Afghan by Amy Votava
4. The Art of Knitting
- Knit Gallery: The Search for a Proper Place among the Arts by Teva Durham,
- An Ode to the Knit Stitch by Pam Allen,
- Dreaming of Dragons by Susan Gordon Lydon,
- Knitting Socks for the Revolution by Sigrid Arnott
5. Our Knitting Heritage
- When Knitting Was a Manly Art by Clinton W Trowbridge,
- A Lifetime of Knitting by Denyse Specktor,
- Knitting Camp by Meg Swansen,
- Elizabeth Zimmermann, a Tribute
Pattern Size Range: N/A
The In-Depth Look:
This book is described as “a scrapbook of stories, essays and memories that celebrates knitting and knitting heritage,” and it does a fine job of it.
The book is mostly made up of essays about knitting–how one writer got sucked into the craft, how another fought against the “granny” stereotype. One knitter conquered wedding jitters by making gifts for her bridesmaids. One struggles to plant Knitting’s flag in the world of art. You get the idea. There are a few short stories, too. And, the tribute to Elizabeth Zimmermann at the back? Some of the knitting world’s biggest stars paying their tribute to one of our most remarkable foremothers.
All this written matter is surrounded by images. Old vintage posters and advertisements with rosy-cheeked children and loving husbands admiring the work of the (rosy-cheeked) knitter. Photos of people knitting through the years–in crowds, by firesides, and even, yes, in rocking chairs. There are also some lovely pictures of yarn, sheep, finished knitted objects.
The entire book is put together with a touch of nostalgia. Sharing the old-time illustrations is the perfect backdrop to reading about the modern struggles and challenges the writers are talking about. The list of contributors is impressive, too, and the writing is good. Some is humorous, some is meaningful, some is quirky. One story even made me cry a little (which is a rare, rare thing).
But that’s what knitting is, isn’t it? Not all knitters are happy, creative people. We have good days, bad days, and stay-the-hell-away-if-you-value-your-life days, and these essays reflect that. (Though none of these writers sound as dire as that last group.) The point, though, is that we’re not all one, homogenous group clicking our needles in unison. Every knitter brings his or her own personality to the party, and so too have the writers.
Now, has the nostalgic essay book with vintage prints kind of book been done before? Yes, it has. But that doesn’t mean that this book doesn’t hold its own. I enjoyed visiting with this book. In fact, I stretched reading it out over a couple of weeks, rather than zooming through it. It’s pleasant and easy on the eyes, and a reminder of all the different things that make knitters knit. Creativity. Therapy. Relaxation. Necessity. It’s all in there. Kind of like just about any knitting circle you can think of.
This book is available at Amazon.com for just $13.59.