Monday, November 7, 2016

Pre-apocalyptic knitting

Gentle knitters,
Apologies for the long absence. Since founding this blog in 2009, I have usually posted at least every month and often more frequently. So much has happened in the past few weeks, including knee surgery (with great results!) however, that I've not been able to do much creative work.  Well, I did knit a pink pig, whose color--as a friend noted--evokes Pepto Bismol. The pattern's from Sarah Keen's Knitted Farm Animals, a lovely book for those who like to make toys. 

I doubt the baby for whom this pig is destined will care much about its medicinal associations. Perhaps I unconsciously chose this color because the lead-up to tomorrow's presidential election has been so nauseating and stomach churning.  In fact, I could guzzle a bottle of Pepto right now.

Before speculating about the impending changes to Life As We Know It attendant on the election's results, I will offer a short discourse on the welter of knitting books I've been asked to review in the recent past. They just keep arriving, and I've become increasingly pickier about my choices.

First, I don't review most of them because either they don't appeal to me, or I don't think they offer much to knitters in general.  I also don't feel like taking time to write negative reviews.  I don't see my mission as guiding knitters about what not to buy or read, although I do like to talk about useful or enjoyable books from time to time (see A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, below).

Second, from time to time when a book appeals to me, I try one of its patterns before writing about the entire book. I did this a few weeks ago with a book by a Major Knitting Eminence that seemed really adorable and was right up my alley--knitted toys--and the first pattern I tried was SO FLAWED that I thought I must be going crazy because the instructions were completely impenetrable. Then, by way of reality check, I asked the Knitting Goddess to try it and she couldn't deal with it either. So scratch that from the list of potential reviews. I suppose that I should tell the publisher they need to offer some errata, but then that my mission? Maybe, when I'm in a less anxious state of mind, but right now there are more important things to consider. 

Third, even though books that are underwritten by yarn companies to promote designs that feature their yarn often do contain good patterns, I'm not usually interested in providing yarn companies with free advertising, so I tend to ignore those books.

Hey, sourpuss, are there any good knitting books out there?

Well, of course. I enjoy technical instruction books, stitch dictionaries, knitting history, ethnic knitting, and niche knitting patterns (toys, for example) the most. But that's me, and as the French say, chacun a son goût. And thus spake Zarathustra.

***'s an adorable book, A Hat for Mrs. Goldman (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016), by Michelle Edwards (illustrated by G. Brian Karas) that will ultimately end up on my grandkids' bookshelf (along with Knitty Kitty by David Elliott, which they know and love), but before that I'll tell you why I like it and why it's great for readers of any age. Briefly, it captures all the best there is to say about knitting, and casts it into picture-book format.  So, it's not a knitting book per se, but a book about knitting, about why people knit, how they learn to knit, and what motivates them to knit--and to give their knitting away. Any knitter will identify with it, insofar as all of us learned to knit somehow, and whether we taught ourselves or were taught by someone else, it's a skill we value and think is worth transmitting and preserving.

If you know a child who doesn't knit, she or he will enjoy the story, which contains lessons about kindness, reciprocity, creativity, perseverance, and loving one's neighbor. After reading the book many times, a child may well be inclined to learn how to knit, or at least the seed of that inclination may be planted. And if not, said child may simply enjoy the book for its sweetly presented story.

If you know an adult who knits or doesn't, she or he may also enjoy the book. It's one of those transcendent fables for all ages and all times, like The Velveteen Rabbit or Charlotte's Web. It provides a hopeful message to those of us who struggle with the crudeness and crassness of today's world.


So, tomorrow we in these United States elect a new President. Watching the campaigns, as I have since they began, has been (as noted above) a gut-churning experience. The violent language, the ceaseless barrage of abject lies, the fear-mongering, the demagoguery, the despicable sexism, racism, and religious intolerance, the extreme hatred evinced by candidates starting from those in the race before the primaries to the present moment--these are unparalleled in our history, and these expressions are antithetical and repugnant to those who believe in democracy and the promises of American society. This is a shameful time for our country. 

The fascination of the abomination has kept me glued to the TV news and to a range of print news sources. Even if my preferred candidate wins the election, the campaigns have nonetheless highlighted the sulfurous miasma created by those who run our political parties, which seem to be concerned mainly with fantasies about American dominance and power, rather than with the realities besetting American citizens.  

I am afraid, because I see only a very bad outcome (in the worst case scenario) or a very frustrating outcome (in the best case).  
Tomorrow I'll be watching the election results roll in, knitting in hand, as well as libations. Which, dear knitters, will you be drinking?

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