Michelle Edwards is a long-time knitter based in Iowa who writes essays for the Lion Brand Yarn newsletter who shares more of her knitting wit and wisdom in A Knitter's Home Companion: A Heartwarming Collection of Stories, Patterns, and Recipes.
Despite the fact that I hate it when books tell me how to think about them (like using "heartwarming" in the title), this is actually a cute book full of sweet stories about the importance of knitting and handmade things in our lives.
What it Means to Be a Knitter
It's hard to describe a collection of essays about knitting and feel like you really do it justice. It's too easy to compare them to others you might have read and say, "you know, that Michelle Edwards just isn't as funny as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee." But she's not trying to be, and not every knitting essay needs to be funny (and not all of Pearl-McPhee's are, either), so it's not really a fair comparison anyway.
What Edwards does offer is a collection of 20 essays on different aspects of knitting and episodes of a knitting life, arranged into chapters: motherhood, home, community, legacy.
There's the tale of her first pair of socks: an argyle set worked from a kit that wouldn't fit any adult's foot because she didn't check gauge. There's a story about the baby blanket knit for her firstborn, another about the doll knit and consistently added to with the input of an opinionated five-year-old.
She writes about other crafty women, such as her mother, who always knit with wool, even when acrylics were all the rage; and her aunt, who crocheted untold numbers of afghans in addition to knitting and sewing.
There are stories about local Iowa City knitting hangouts, becoming a Master Knitter, deciphering a knit object to make a duplicate of your own, connecting with other knitters in a time before Ravelry and more.
In addition to the stories there are book reviews ranging from Elizabeth Zimmermann's The Opinionated Knitter to an early 1900's classic, The Settlement Cookbook, as well as works of fiction and children's stories. There are also recipes for things like quiche, deviled eggs and homemade jam, and 12 patterns including the baby blanket, basic mittens and socks, a ripple afghan like the crocheted one and egg warmers shaped like chickens.
At it's heart, The Knitter's Home Companion is a book about legacy: what we leave behind in our knitting and our attempts -- however unsuccessful -- to teach our children to knit. Even if our name is never known, even if our handmade things end up in thrift stores someday (where someone like Edwards will buy them), our work does make an impact and has a life beyond us. Which is really all any of us can wish for.
Publication date: March 2011