First, the facts:
Author: Suzyn Jackson, Editor
Published by: Voyageur Press, 2009
Type: Essays and patterns
2. Connections Forged
3. Needles, Yarn, and Politics
4. Knit Your Heart Out
5. Around the Corner, Around the World
6. Wrapping Up
Pattern Size Range: N/A
The In-Depth Look:
There are two main purposes to this book, so far as I can tell.
One is to highlight and celebrate all the reasons knitters get together and knit.
The other is to provide patterns for those groups to knit.
So far as the first purpose, this book is a winner. I can’t really think of a reason to knit with friends that’s not covered. Socializing, charity, politics, art … they’re all there, and they’re all interesting.
The book is filled with stories and articles about specific knitters’ experiences with knitting groups. Groups to provide succor for people (or pets) in need. Groups to raise awareness of political issues. Groups that banded together just for fun, or to help. The stories are warm and touching, and help underscore exactly why knitting in groups has been so popular for, well, centuries, going back to the renaissance guilds, and gathering through wars to make socks and hats for cold soldiers. We knitters have long since made this solitary activity a social and active endeavor. (And, how can you help but be impressed by a knitted Ferrari?)
The second purpose, though, the patterns? To be honest, I didn’t think much of the patterns. I loved the idea of some of them. Like the sweater made out of individual stripes, so that a circle of friends could make a single garment for a sick or needy member is a charming idea, but I don’t find it an overly attractive garment. The “New Skills Blanket” is a great sampler for trying out new techniques, but I can’t imagine giving it to someone to use as a blanket. (It’s the kind of thing I’d keep for myself as a learning aid, but not something I’d show in public.)
I didn’t dislike all the patterns, mind you. The baby layette at the end is adorable and practical (and made up of enough different pieces to give a knitter or the new mom plenty of options). You can’t really dislike the little catnip pillows, either, or the Tic Tac Tote bag, or the soft baby blocks. I mean, I didn’t say that the patterns were terrible … but, frankly, I thought that the stories that tied the patterns together were much better than the patterns themselves.
And that’s okay. If the point of the book is to talk about all the reasons we gather together to knit, it’s the stories that matter the most. It’s not what’s on the needles that’s important so much as the act of knitting in the first place.
Like the author says,
“Welcome to my knitting circle: a collection of writers and designers who have thought deeply about how a community of knitters with a shared passion for yarn and needles can bridge divides, spread goodwill, and strengthen us all.”
Amen to that!
This book is available from Amazon.com for $16.48.
This review copy was kindly donated by Voyageur Press. Thank you!