Tag: craftyreads

Crafty Reads: Knitlandia

Crafty Reads: Knitlandia

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.

crafty reads: rebecca ringquist’s embroidery workshops

We celebrate Christmas at home, just the 3 of us. One of my favorite parts of that tradition is that we take breaks along the way to revel in the moment. The highlight of my Christmas was curling up with my new copy of Rebecca Ringquist’s Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-The-Rules Primer and reading it cover to cover.

I haven’t embroidered in a decade, but I was so inspired by this book. The author, Rebecca, shows a mastery of the subject but lacks snobbery – it feels like she wrote this book to help me create what is in my hands and heart.

I loved how accessible she makes embroidery feel. I have had supplies languishing for ages because it seems hard (and yet another craft!), but after reading this book I feel so empowered to jump in and play. In the supplies section she gives the bare bones to get you started, but also details a more thorough notions basket for those that are interested. The stitches section details instructions for different types of stitches, including the type of thread she prefers to use for each. She covers how to do the stitches by hand and the approximations you can get from a machine. Then she shows a series of projects ranging from samplers to complex multimedia creations. She finishes with finishing, detailing how to display your work but encouraging you to create without worrying about an endpoint.

The book comes with a sampler, which I am looking forward to completing this year. And along the way I plan to do some experimenting with my little collection of embroideries to be.