This past winter has been a great opportunity to curl up with a knitting project, or just enjoy reading knitting books and magazines. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed in past winters, and all throughout the year.
Nancy Berges, our island knitting maven, lent me a wonderful trio of books that she picked up on a trip to Wales many years ago: Cornish Guernseys & knit-frocks, by Mary Wright; Patterns for Guernseys, jerseys & Arans : fishermen’s sweaters from the British Isles, by Gladys Thompson; and Traditional knitting of the British Isles : Fisher-Gansey patterns of N.E. England, by Michael R. R. Pearson. Full of interesting stories, these books offer a glimpse into some of the island fishing communities in England, the men who wore the sweaters, and the women who knit them.
No idle hands: the social history of knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald, is another good winter read. From colonial days, through the Civil War, and up into the post World War II, Americans were busy knitting, often out of necessity, and later on for pleasure.
I love Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac : projects for each month of the year. While most of her projects are beyond my abilities, her charming writing made it just plain fun to read about her projects such as an Aran sweater, socks, long underwear, etc.
If you just like to read knitting essays, I would recommend Knitting yarns: writers on knitting, edited by Ann Hood. You’ll recognize some of the names, such as Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, Elinor Lipman, Joyce Maynard, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Jane Smiley. Ann Hood also wrote another knitting book, the novel The knitting circle, about a group of women in Rhode Island providing comfort and therapy to each other through knitting. For more knitting fiction I would recommend Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street series, also about a knitting group and knitting shop, A Good Yarn, in Seattle.
Knitting is also a wonderful way to tell others that you care. Several books provide a means to do this. One is Knitting for peace: make the world a better place one stitch at a time, by Betty Christiansen. I’m trying to work my way through this book, in order to not only make projects for various charities, but also to “knit outside the box,” and hopefully improve my knitting skills. Charities include afgans for Afghans, Project Linus, and Warm up America! There are also prayer shawl books out there, to make someone you love a prayer shawl, to bring comfort, or sometimes just to celebrate good things. The prayer shawl companion is just one of the several books available. Simply reading the stories will inspire you to make a shawl yourself. It really does mean a lot to receive, and give, a prayer shawl.
Finally, for just pure visual delight, I enjoyed Coastal knits: a collaboration between friends on opposite shores, by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig. Alana (in mid-coast California) and Hannah (in Portland, Maine), offer their patterns and stories. I especially loved this book, not only for the photography, but because I grew up in California and was familiar with the area described, as well as of course, the Portland and Casco Bay area.
The Long Island Community Library offers the best of both worlds when it comes to knitting – books about knitting and a place to gather with fellow knitters – every Thursday afternoon, in the small meeting room. Come join us!