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August 29, 2013


I’m not sure we want everyone to know how magical knitting really is, but it is nice to see that recognised in the non-knitting media.  

As a child, I thought of knitting as a kind of magic, in which a
one-dimensional object became two-dimensional or even three-dimensional.
While you watched, a very long piece of string somehow turned into a
hat or a sock or a mitten, something with shape and weight, an inside
and an outside. Appropriately, this transformation was accomplished with
long shiny sticks, like the magic wands in fairy tales. 

The above quote opens an post by novelist Alison Lurie on The New Yorker’s blog about the history of knitting references in literature. It’s an extract from the book   Knitting Yarns:Writers on Knitting,which looks rather interesting (I also find it significant that it’s not being published under a craft related imprint.)

It might be too early to make predictions, and I’ve only read an extract, but I also suspect that Clara Parkes’ forthcoming memoir, The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting, will travel far beyond the knitting community. The part I’ve read is both poignant and hilarious and I can’t wait to read the rest. I ended up reading a chapter aloud to my friend Miriam Felton one night at Tnna and it’s perfect for reading aloud. Better than listening to me read, maybe you can make it to one of the readings she has scheduled.Clara describes the book as:

The Yarn Whisperer is about my own life in knitting, both literally and figuratively. But it also explores our collective
lives in knitting. I’ve left many blanks for you to fill in. My hope is
that it may help you see your own story, and your knitting, in a new,
more meaningful light. 

While you’re waiting for these to come out maybe you can practice reading while knitting — one of my favourite activities. I really do adore knitting, but I’m terrible at focusing on anything unless multiple senses are engaged, so I rarely knit without doing something else at the same time. This means I watch and embarrassing amount of television (have you seen Orange is the New Black yet? So good.) but if what I’m working on has a nice rhythm that doesn’t require much looking I often read. Every time I mention this people ask how, but I’m never sure how to respond. I began by watching subtitled films, and by realizing that I was reading bits of a pattern without putting the needles down, but like most skills it just requires practice. I used to hold the pages open with a diy weight (I think that’s the original Briar Rosesample I’m working on in the photo) but these days I usually opt for ebooks if I want to knit at the same time — much easier!

I do wonder if part of it is personality, while I can read and knit I can’t really listen to audiobooks and knit, which certainly sounds like it would be a lot easier. Recently I had a bit of an epiphany about that while doing the extremely mundane task of painting my bathroom — while I was painting I listened to the audiobook of The Ocean at theEnd of the Lane.It helps that Neil Gaiman is a great reader and writes books that are ideally suited for the audio format, but I think the key reason I didn’t just tune it out is that painting requires looking at what you’re doing. Brains are weird.



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