01/30/2014

High and Low-tech Knitting

This is a repost from 2012:

I’ve got two books sitting on my coffee table right now. Although I love reading fiction ebooks on my iPad or Sony Reader, I find that knitting books are still much more satisfying in paper format, and research books are more usable when I can lay them all over the table and attach dozens of post-it notes to pages with pertinent facts that I’ve highlighted. So now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about the two books I’m reading. They are polar opposites. I find that I’m  very much attracted to opposites these days::

  • I am a travel addict, but I am enjoying cocooning at home right now.
  • I want to loose another 15 pounds, but I also want to eat chocolate and drink beer.
  • I am obsessed with history, but I embrace the freedoms and technologies of the present.
  • I love hot, sunny beaches and cold, snowy mountains.
  • I write about traditional knitting techniques and read about fantastic sci-fi inventions.

So with all that in mind, my two current knitting reads are Fashioning Technology by Syuzi Pakhchyan and 10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza.

10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters

10 Secrets of the Laidback KnittersA few weeks ago, I asked the question “is there a slow-knitting movement that’s like the slow-food movement” on Twitter. The answer was, “Yes, and you can read about it the upcoming book, 10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters.” After I saw a preview of the book on Amazon, I requested a copy from the publisher so I could write about it here. The 10 secrets are not secrets any more! You can browse inside the book on Amazon and read the Table of Contents so I don’t think it’s out of line for me to let the secrets slip:

  1. Find Yourself a Wise Woman
  2. Discover Slow Knitting
  3. Become a Barefoot Sock Knitter
  4. Take the Color Leap of Faith
  5. See the Souls of Fibers
  6. Listen as the Yarn Speaks to You
  7. Value the Partnership in Knitting
  8. Learn to Soar Patternless
  9. Do it with Hooks
  10. Connect the Dots

I’d like to talk a bit about my two favorite secrets: Discover Slow Knitting and Learn to Soar Patternless.

The idea of slow knitting is what initially led me to this book. “It’s not what you think it is,” we’re told at the beginning of this chapter. In a way I’m disappointed. Knitting slowly is a pleasure in itself. I’m usually rushing to make a deadline, but I cherish the idea of sitting on the front porch in summer, drinking lemonade, and slowly making stitches on a light-weight lace scarf; or sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter evening, letting gorgeous wool flow over my needles as the stitches form the pieces of a sweater. The slow knitting in 10 Secrets is something different. It’s related to the Slow Food Movement, and the focus is on discovering art yarns, taking time to knit mindfully, and getting back to nature, or at least to have an understanding about how we humans fit into the larger environment. It’s not us versus nature. We are part of nature. And it would behoove us to remember that from time to time.

Learn to Soar Patternless is one of my favorite topics because I believe all knitters should be empowered to knit without being tied to a pattern. Does that mean you should never follow patterns? Of course not! I love when I find some gorgeous sweater or a simple, elegant shawl, or an unusual accessory that I can make directly from the pattern. But I also like to be able to just cast on and go, to make things up on my own, and — when I’m in the mood to spend more time — to create my own gorgeous or elegant or unusual designs. I like to have options and I want other knitters to have the power of choice as well. I think empowerment and understanding what we do, the process and not just the end product, is an important part of life.

My runner up secret is Find Yourself a Wise Woman. This applies in life, generally, not just in knitting. In the old days, families lived close together and grandma was usually just around the corner. These days we are scattered around the country, maybe even around the world. Grandma may still be a phone call or text message away, but that’s not quite the same thing. Even so, sometimes the Wise Woman we need is not a family member. I’m not going to give away more about this secret, but there’s a reason it’s the first one in the book. I hope you’ll read to find out more.

The projects are a bonus in this book. It’s the reading that was what drew me in. But even though the projects weren’t what sparked my initial interest, as I flipped through the pages, I found several “must make” items.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of every day life in America. When I’m home, I miss the slower pace and more relaxed attitudes of Europe. This book brings that home to me when I can’t travel. Overall, reading 10 Secrets made me feel good about life and about knitting. It has a cozy feeling, and it will nurture your creativity and your soul. I definitely recommend 10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters to anyone who feels trapped in the rat race or has, perhaps, lost the joy of knitting. This book will put the heart back into your craft.

High and Low-tech Knitting 1 High and Low-tech Knitting 2 High and Low-tech Knitting 3 High and Low-tech Knitting 4 High and Low-tech Knitting 5

Fashioning Technology

As much as I love the idea of getting back to nature, eating local, and all that feel-good stuff, there’s no way I believe in the goodness of the “good old days.” I’m not nostalgic for the past. Frankly, it sucked. I’m 100% glad that I was born after women had the vote, anti-biotics and the pill were invented, and we have indoor plumbing. You know, that kind of stuff. And I don’t even want to think about what my life would be like without my computer and iPhone.

But I’ve been procrastinating about publishing this post because I don’t have time to get into the second book just now. So there you have it! I have 16 more patterns to write this week, so I probably won’t get the next post done for a while. :-)

Knitting, Knitting articles by Donna , ,
4 Comments
  1. Thank you, Donna. I can’t wait to see the book in person. (And in paper!)

    • Hi Alison, how are you doing? It’s a wonderful book, and I’m sure you like it. Especially because it has so many stories. That was my favorite part of your book. Well, hard to say that because I loved the projects too and have made several for myself and as gifts.

  2. Hi Donna, I just read your column in the first-fall Knitty. Did you know that before the book you mention in the column, there was “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” by Rebecca West? It is one of the best books I have ever read. I suppose you know it now that you’ve read the other book! But I can’t imagine a better book than West’s.

    • Yes, I have Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. I read about half of it. The Black LambS and Grey FalconS book for some reason was more intense for me. That is, it struck a chord with me. I did enjoy Rebecca West’s though. It’s an amazing book and I will eventually read the rest of it.

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