Tag Archives: book review

All Wound Up – Some Thoughts on a Book

16 Jan

This isn’t at all what I expected, I kept thinking as I read the first few chapters of All Wound Up, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s newest book.

Reading her (way) earlier Knitting Rules!, I discovered there’s a lot to laugh about when it comes to knitting, and this came as news to me. I loved it. Reading it, I felt a general sense of belonging into this vague entity comprised of knitters. This was what I expected when I opened the newest one as well.

After a few chuckles during the first essay, I found myself frowning quite a lot and thinking hey now, what’s up. But I kept going, wondering when the hilarious part was going to start. And it didn’t. What I read just didn’t tickle my funny bone.

Instead something else happened. Just as soon as I stopped looking for the giggles, I found myself thinking “yes, exactly” a lot.

My heart was entirely shattered when I read October, a text which I felt evoked valuable thoughts when beginning a new year, and the text on Mother’s day made me sadder and wiser. I found solace reading about the time in one’s life when knitting just does not apply.

Chaos math and the happy affair of replacing knitted things made me nod in complete agreement. And finally, I did roar with laughter about the indoors water balloon fight – something I as a kid somehow always knew was A Very Bad Idea Indeed – about Failure to think and many of the other texts.

Now some of the texts just didn’t apply: I have never been approached in public about knitting, and though I live in a cold climate, making one mistake doesn’t easily turn into a life and death situation ’round here, and so on. But it doesn’t matter, really. Because now I know about crytoscopophilia, a condition I, too, share with so many others, and about the screaming injustice of pennies for handmade crochet.

This wasn’t at all what I’d expected. As I closed the book I did that thing I rarely do anymore: I smelled it again, I held it in my hands and felt the texture of its covers, I rifled through its pages, attempting to hold on to that fragile feeling. Having devoured the book in two days, I was left feeling my senses had been awakened, that my world view had been widened. I put it down and picked up my knitting, feeling serene, clear and calm, wiser and sadder, and cheerful.

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Knitting Rules!

26 Sep

Last spring I bought a book written by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, called Knitting  Rules! , which quickly turned out to be probably the best knitting book I have.

Well, along with Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, which is responsible for my knitting obsession. It’s the book that convinced me within 5 minutes of first seeing it that knitting is, in fact, way cool, and can produce things that are cute and beautiful and modern.

And Stitch ‘n Bitch was good, but recently I’ve been looking for books that aren’t necessarily aimed at a beginner knitter. That’s where Knitting Rules! comes in. There are lots of different types of knitting books, all of which have their role. But within its type, I think this is simply the perfect book. It’s funny, contains lots of interesting, extremely helpful factoids and knitting philosophy, and thankfully doesn’t contain knitting instructions for beginners.

I love having all those useful tips and details and just bits of general information (not to mention the good chuckles) available to me at any moment – just in case.

For instance, before I read this book, I never knew that I could ever need something like, say, a chart on how much yarn in different weights is needed for the most common sizes of scarfs. But now I know such a thing exists, and suddenly it makes perfect sense that it does.

This would’ve been useful recently , when I was in a yarn store pondering buying a couple of balls of a lovely wool and bamboo blend, but wasn’t sure how much was needed for a scarf, and abandoned the idea. Now, if only I’d had my knitting bag, and Knitting rules!, with me…

Another good example are the general guidelines in the book on how to figure out what a person’s head circumference, foot length or wing span is without chasing them down with a tape measure in hand. This is handy for the purpose of actually surprising someone with a knitted gift.

But the most important thing in this book, for me, is the attitude it portrays towards knitting. In addition to all the facts, the book offers numerous moments of recognition and feelings of belonging. It made me feel better about my stash, and about buying the tools a knitter needs. Any time I read it, I feel better about any mistakes that might bug me in the project I’m working on. I feel more confident that I can take on any project with an open and informed mindset.

All of this is does without preaching or even once sounding as if what it says is law to be respected by all knitters everywhere.

In short, it’s a book that I think would suit a lot of knitters, and I highly recommend it.

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