Monday, May 5, 2008

Book Club Monday :: Knitalong

There are knitting books I buy because I love a designer's work or they have a theme I can't resist, and then there are Amazon 'filler' books. You know, those mildly interesting tomes with one or two patterns that are not enough incentive to pay retail for an entire hardcover but certainly worth a gamble to fill up that gap for free shipping. I originally flagged "Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together" by Larissa and Martin John Brown for this Entomology Set designed by Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn fame,
but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when this book arrived. It is full of things I want to knit and that's unusual for a lackadaisical knitter like me. I am even intrigued with the concept of the book: people knitting together -- sometimes on the same design, sometimes not, sometimes online, sometimes in real gatherings, sometimes for charity and sometimes for personal challenges -- just for the companionship of the craft. Now, I know there are some obsessive congregating knitters out there -- Ravelry addicts, put down your needles and step away from the yarn stash before someone loses an eye -- but the refreshing thing about many of these knitalongs was the simple lighthearted creativity of the participants without the accompanying acquisitiveness I often feel. They weren't about who had the most yarn, coolest bag or rarest books, but more about what people can create when they work together.
I also found myself attracted to projects in this book that I would have dismissed on description alone. I am not, for example, enamored of the chevron afghan, having grown up with a particularly hideous orange and black 70's version [sorry, mom], yet I love how fresh and modern Olive's Afghan looks.
And this barn quilt from leftover sock yarns manages to pull of kitsch and cool. Factor in the reminder that both of these projects can be knitted with shared labor and that lazy knitter in me sits up and takes further notice.
Even the requisite "unique projects" didn't irritate me, most likely because this one, the felted peace crane, pulls some sentimental strings. Papaloo and I folded a thousand paper cranes for our wedding, seven years ago this week. I don't think I'll have time to make one myself before the weekend, but in the spirit of the book, perhaps I'll call up some local knitting friends for some help.
One last thing, the quality of the book itself is first rate - a hard cover of satisfying small size and heft, a nicely bound cloth spine and end paper "credits" of the knitalong projects' participants. It's a Stewart, Tabori & Chang/Melanie Falick collaboration and that's always a good thing. Go ahead and pay retail, this book is worth it.

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mother, photographer, seamstress, knitter, spinner, baker, modern home maker -- that's me.