Tuesday, April 20, 2010


When I was a kid, I was a huge reader. I loved to read, and I'm happy to say that, for the most part, it's stayed with me. Since law school, however, my reading has come in waves. My day job involves a lot of reading on a day-to-day basis. So often when I get home, my eyes are strained and reading isn't on the top of my list of things to do. But I do go on reading sprees and will read multiple books in a few days, and then read nothing more than blogs and the newspaper (online) for a few months.

With a road trip on the agenda for last weekend, I took the opportunity to read 2 knitting related books that I heard about through the blogosphere. I put them on my Kindle, and sped through them which speaks to how much I enjoyed these books and how much I still love my Kindle.

The first was How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron. It's a romance novel. I'm not ordinarily a romance novel type of reader (though I read a lot of Danielle Steele in the summers during high school). But I know that lots of people are. And I completely understand the appeal of romance novels. Not unlike science fiction, they're pure escapism taking the reader to a different time and place that is likely more interesting than their day to day slog. I thoroughly enjoyed every word of How to Knit a Love Song. It was, at times, steamy. And well, it was a bit predictable. But that doesn't stop me from loving rom-com movies, so why would it be any different for a book. The writing, not unlike the author's blog, was easy to read and conversational. Detailed without an over-reliance on gratuitous metaphors. The plot featured knitting as a central theme. The heroine is a knitting designer, and her love interest a brooding cowboy. The characters were likable and charming. I was rooting for them throughout. (Which is more than I can say about one of the last books I read where I actually sort of wished that one of the characters would die so at least something would happen.) I recommend the book without reservation.

While How to Knit a Love Song prominently featured knitting in its plot, it was not about knitting. Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini was precisely that, a book about knitting. While I saw the book profiled on various blogs in the past few weeks, I didn't really have a grasp of what the book was about. In short, the author decides to knit Alice Starmore's sensationally beautiful and complex Mary Tudor sweater over the course of one year. During our drive home on Sunday, Rykert asked what I was reading. So I explained, as best as I could to a non-knitter, the premise of the book: the author is knitting a very complex sweater from an out-of-print pattern that called for yarn that is no longer available. His response: "If you have the basics of knitting, can't you knit anything it's just a matter of how long it will take you*?" I think he's right, and in a lot of ways, that's what this book is about. The author interviews famous knitting designers and bloggers and delves into this, and other questions. Having come to knitting, and blogging, after the brouhaha surrounding Alice Starmore and her designs and more or less subsided (read the book for the details if you aren't familiar) I found the legal aspects very interesting. In short, in the late 1990s Alice Starmore tried to prevent, claiming untested copyright claims, knitters from selling her pattern books on the Internet and to a certain extent even discussing her patterns.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, because again, the author has a wonderful, conversational style and is funny as well. If you you are a knitter, then I think you would love this book. It discusses knitting and the community that surrounds knitting, both virtual and prsonal, with great insight, understanding, and humor. And by the end, my knitting mojo felt recharged, and I was perusing the interwebs for a new, more challenging project. Not an Alice Starmore challenge, but something more challenging than the simple hats I've been making. And with colors, lots of colors.

So the epiphany... In Sweater Quest, Ms. Martini is providing the reader with a primer on the knitter's vocabulary. She explains frogging (to pull an entire piece of knitting completely out), a word I'm very familiar with, and I'm even familiar with its origins ("rip it, rip it"). And then she explains "to tink". "For smaller mistakes, you tink one stitch at a time." And then she lays it on me, "If you don't get that association, read tink backward." OMG. I have been knitting seriously for nearly a decade. Sometimes, on some projects, I tink more than I knit, and it never, until that very moment driving down I-80, occurred to me that tink was knit backwards. If that had been all I got out of Sweater Quest, I would have considered it a pretty wonderful book.

I'm off to start considering a more challenging knitting project. Suggestions?

**Beyond knitting, this is sort of my philosophy for everything. There's nothing I can't do, some things will just likely take me a very loooong time.

3 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Rachael Herron said...

What a great review. Thank you for posting this. You made my day! I'm so glad you liked the book. :)

Adrienne Martini said...

What Rachael said! So happy that you had your epiphany. I think it's time for you to start a Starmore, tho.

amy said...

Wow the author leaves a comment on your blog - great review. I hope to read that book soon. I just finished "Knit the Season", yes I got it for Christmas and just now finished it.

My suggestion, the Fireside Jacket. It's full of cables and a great knit. The suggested yarn, Berkshire, is from Webs and very affordable.

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