The Knitting Way: A Guide to Spiritual Self-Discovery by Linda Skolnik (founder of Patternworks) and Janice MacDaniels is a lovely book that will get knitters thinking about the true meaning of knitting.
You don't have to be religious to love the idea of this book: that knitting is a meditation, a contemplation, a thing that says a lot about us as knitters and as people. This book is a joy to read and the projects are thoughtful, interesting and useful.
The Philosophy of Yarn
Writers and other creative types will know that the name of this book is a play off the hugely successful book The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. That book advises writers and artists to connect with a higher source of creativity and to understand that creativity is that natural way of the world, so it doesn't have to be difficult.
The musings on knitting, craft and spirituality in this book follow in the tradition of Cameron's book, urging readers to slow down, listen to the gentle click of the needles, really feel the wool running between our fingers, and focus on what we are doing and how we are connected to other knitters past and present.
"Knitting connects us to all who have gone before," the authors write. "It links us to the past, to those who knitted for their existence, who knitted for survival, who knitted for beauty and love. It links us to our own past. We can know our ancestors who knitted. We can experience their past in our fingers. A knitting great-grandmother is still in our fingers."
This book largely speaks to female knitters and comes from the experience that knitting is commonly a feminine art. That doesn't mean male knitters can't get anything out of this book, just that they won't find knitters who look like them in the pages.
Following the Path
This book covers such topics as caring for the soul through knitting, new ways of looking at the world, knitting as a sanctuary, letting go of perfection, making time for knitting as a daily practice, the purpose of knitting from the standpoint of the soul and passing on your love of knitting to others.
While all this sounds a bit new-agey, the talk of spirituality shouldn't be off-putting even to people who are not religious. This book is much more about meditation and "getting inside" your knitting than it is about following religious dogma or even believing in a particular higher power. While there are quotes from the bible and statements like "stand with awe at the bigness of God," it's pretty easy to think about your oneness with the creative spirit instead of God if that makes you more comfortable.
This book is heartfelt, joyful and fun, and it would be a shame to miss all that just because of the spiritual subtext running through it.
This book is more of a meditation on what it means to be a knitter than it is a project book or instruction book. In fact, this book assumes you have been knitting for a while and are simply looking for more meaning in your work.
There are, however, 19 patterns for varied projects, from a top-down shawl to a log-cabin square, quad socks to a knitted square that comes out a ball when felted, a Moebius wrap to a scarf with a hidden message
Each project relates to a concept in the book, but these projects are fun and useful even out of the context of the book.
One of the most interesting patterns is what's known as the Knitting Way spiral, a knitted symbol of the journey of life and the journey we are all on as knitters. Knit flat with a row of purl stitches down the middle, this project is lightly stuffed, wrapped into a spiral and decorated with pins or other baubles. It's a small pillow sized reminder of the progress you have made as a knitter.
Wool for the Soul
The Knitting Way would make a wonderful gift for a knitting friend, or to yourself. It's a beautiful way to honor what it means to be a knitter and the connection that each of us has to all the knitters who have ever been.
The creative patterns and thoughtful meditations will get you thinking about your place in the knitting world and what a special and wonderful thing it is to create with yarn.