One of the perks of being immersed in the internet knitting community is receiving books to review. I love seeing new patterns, new concepts and interesting twists in the knitting book genre.
Knit It Together, by Suzyn Jackson, is one of those interesting twists. When I first received it, I was a bit tepid about the premise: knitting patterns for knitting circles. The patterns are fine enough--a scarves that everyone knits on (changing knitters at a predetermined conversation point at knit night), hats and blankets, a few garments and whimseys--all made with inexpensive and easily found yarns. I plan to propose the global baby layette as part of my circle's next project for the next knitter who is pregnant (we are a fecund group).
But that wasn't what impressed me most. Like Mason-Dixon Knitting, this book is as much about the writing as it is about the knitting.
Knit it Together moves beyond being a book of patterns with some text bookends, it is also a practical resource for those wanting to join or start a knitting circle. And it is a lovely collection of stories about knitting communities and the joys of knitting as a collective act. Starting with Jackson's own tale of how she learned to knit and the knitting circles in her life, the patterns are interspersed with stories from contributors who belong to both local and virtual knitting communities and the ways these groups enhance both their knitting and their lives.
As someone lucky enough to engage in vibrant local and virtual communities of knitters, I could see my experiences in many of the stories--the fun of having a group to knit with at my local shop, the ability to chat with knitters any time I want through Ravelry or my favourite listserv, the anticipation around a new issue of Knitty or Twist Collective magazine, participation in charity knitting, or community blankets for moms-to-be. This book adds to knitting folklore and challenges what many outsiders see as a solitary act of house-bound spinsters, showing instead a heterogeneous and dynamic set of communities.
What I liked most about this book was how much I warmed up to it as I read it. It surprised me and it was a pleasure to read.
And as tonight is Knit Night for me, I think I'll be giving all my knit-pals a hug (since I can't afford to buy them all a beer).