“Knitting Yarns” is a collection of essays about knitting. The book is compiled by author and knitter Ann Hood and first published in 2013. Each chapter is written by a different author, some of them knitters, some of them knitting “fans” and some of them failed knitters. You might think this book appeals only to knitters, but you would be wrong.
Yes, I am a knitter and that is the reason I picked “Knitting Yarns” at the library. It was, after all, in the knitting section. I expected a book about the joys of knitting written by authors who knit. Instead, I found a collection of essays that explore knitting as a way of understanding life. The authors in the book started knitting for many different reasons and some of them never knit. Their reasons are as varied as the reasons any of us do anything.
This collection of essays is a powerful representation of life. I laughed at the efforts of one woman to remember how to knit while her daughters learned. I cried while reading the essay by another woman who never learned to knit because her mother could do all those “housewifey” things and she could get anything she wanted by “ordering” it from her mother. Until her mother died suddenly. I was amazed by the knitter who never uses a pattern because then you would know how it was supposed to turn out. Sometimes she succeeded in making something wonderful and sometimes she failed, but she had the confidence to try it her own way.
Different essays will appeal to different people. Some of them won’t speak to you at all. The essay by Barbara Kingsolver was an incomprehensible muddle to me. I have no idea what it was about and skipped it after the first page. Other essays felt like they were speaking to my heart: the women who picked up knitting as a way of dealing with stress, grief, or pain. I laughed at Taylor Polites who learned to knit so he could make sweaters for his fashionista Chihuahua. I identified with Suzanne Shea who knew, the first time she picked up knitting needles, it was something she would do the rest of her life.
Ann Hood included patterns (but no pictures) in “Knitting Yarns,” although I won’t be making any of them. Unlike the author who creates all her own designs, I like to see what I’m aiming for before I begin. I also like the bibliography at the end. I ordered several of the books by authors whose essays I enjoyed from the library.
“Knitting Yarns” is more than a book about knitting. The essays will appeal to readers on many different levels. Being a knitter is just a starting point.