One of my best presents last Christmas was a copy of "Knitting Yarns: Writers On Knitting" edited by Ann Hood. It was given to me by our daughter's new boyfriend who had already made a good impression even before his good present choices. I haven't quite "bought the hat", but we have high hopes as they are so well suited.
But enough of day dreaming and back to the book.....it is a collection of short accounts by well known authors (male and female) who describe how, why and when they learned to knit. At first, I was sceptical. How could there be so many reasons for learning to knit? I used to watch my mother knitting and even enjoyed helping her to wind the wool into balls. I became good at sitting with my arms outstretched and knew exactly when to flick my wrists so the wool travelled over them effortlessly.
I actually learned to knit because an aunt sent me a knitting kit for my seventh birthday. This went down like a lead balloon with my mother as my sister was only a few months old at a time when terry nappies were boiled and hung out to dry. We had no washing machine, so the nappies were boiled in a big pan and put though a mangle afterwards. My mother was going to put away the knitting kit until I was older...probably about 18. I threatened to tell my aunt and the rest is history!! I made all the usual mistakes but was hooked from the first row.
Some accounts in this book are sad; some are very funny and I have discovered some new authors who are worth reading. To name a few, the authors include: Anita Shreve, Alison Lurie, Helen Bingham, Sue Grafton, and John Dufresne. There are at least another 20 authors who hopefully won't be offended by not being named individually. I have to say that there wasn't one account that I didn't read and enjoy. There are stories of how knitting helped people through loss, how it helped them to pass time while waiting for happy events and how it can be infuriating as well as addictive.
The titles of the accounts speak for themselves. Here are some of them:
- Ten things I learned from knitting
- Soft, warm, and fuzzy
- The pretend knitter
- Straw into gold
- The clothes make the dog
- What are you making?
- Why bother?
- Knitting: epic fail
- Teaching a child to knit
- How knitting saved my life, twice
I rarely recommend books, but I think there is something for everyone in "Knitting Yarns". It also includes some knitting patterns and even a poem about trying to use up yarn stash. I'll give the last word to Elinor Lipman:
What thrill is there that can attract ya
Like going home with soft alpaca?
It's beautiful; it's red or rose.
A jewel to crown your drabber clothes.