I was fortunate this week to read exactly the right book for this moment in my life. My cancer treatment means I don’t venture far from home much and has the truly unfortunate side effect of leaving me unable to knit in the days following chemo. So it was comforting to lose myself in Clara Parkes’ Knitlandia – tales of her adventures traveling the world to explore and contribute to the knitting community.
One of the things I love most about this book is that while I was reading about Clara’s experiences, it felt deeply personal to me. Her stories don’t make you feel left out of exclusive events but invited along as her friend and confidante. I am extraordinarily lucky that I have attended several events depicted in the book and found myself nodding along at how well she captured the essence of each.
In the chapter on the first Vogue Knitting Live, Clara talks about the fact that we have to gather with our teachers because there is no knitting university that keeps them in one place. Over and over in the later stories I reflected on how lucky that makes us; we have these events on our home turf and our experts come to us to share their knowledge. We’re lucky that there are so many vibrant local knitting communities across the world and you’re not left out due to geography. The chapter about her Iceland adventures reveals that you can even be lucky enough to see these experts naked as part of a class. Clara jokes about the awkwardness of the situation, but truly, it is a credit to our special and intimate world.
TNNA is where I met Clara for the first time in real life and scored a coveted Claramel. Her optimism about capturing the magic of this event when it moves off our usual turf makes me sad that I’ll likely be sitting this year out. I plan to offer this chapter as a convenient reference to the next person who questions why I am so excited to go on a work trip to a yarn trade show.
I felt the most like kindred spirits reading the chapter about Rhinebeck. We share childhoods in upstate NY and going to the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival settles my senses on a deep level in the same way. It is a place where everything smells right (and I do not just mean the apple cider donuts). The shopping can be overwhelming and filled with lines, but Clara captures the beauty of the non-retail parts of the festival – taking in the pan flutes and being surrounded by your people. It is a weekend of home.
As an avid baker, I am not surprised that Clara knew to save a sweet treat for last. I have never felt as inspired as my time at Squam. And just as Clara’s weekend there ended with a successful trunk show that cemented her place in the industry, finishing the book reading about my employer left me feeling solidly a part of a group that I sometimes suspect I snuck into. Mine is one of the four families that Ravelry supports. This book has made me contemplate my current role in the knitting community and what I aspire to. I am happy to say I am right where I want to be – using my technical skills to make a home for us digitally and using writing and photography to share my personal experiences as a crafter.
I am left inspired to share more of my personal Knitlandia. I hope that you’ll enjoy hearing about mine just as soon as you finish reading Clara’s.