If you've been a knitter for any length of time, you've probably found that knitting teaches you things about yourself that you never knew before, and essential life skills you never thought you had.
Patience, for instance. You might not have known that you were the kind of person who would rip out a neckline five times until you got it absolutely perfect, or who could knit a six-foot-long lace shawl out of laceweight yarn and keep your sanity intact.
These lessons and more come from knitting, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has a whole bookload of them in Things I Learned from Knitting...Whether I Wanted to or Not.
It's Not a Cliche When It's True
For this book, Pearl-McPhee has taken some well-worn adages and written essays about how they relate to the knitting world. "Beginning is easy, continuing is hard," for example, is about how we are willing to have 15 projects on the needles at any one time and will start another project even though we're totally happy with the project we were already working on.
"Nothing is perfect" talks about knitting being the one thing in life that we can really control, because we can rip out and reknit until we're completely happy with a project.
"Idle hands are the devil's workshop" tells the story of Pearl-McPhee trying to knit eight socks in eight days, and how professional handknitters back in the day knit six pairs of stockings a week (unfortunately the story doesn't say if she managed to complete her task).
"A friend in need is a friend indeed" talks about the generosity of knitters when it comes to helping a fellow knitter (it fails to mention the amazing generosity of charity knitters, but that's also true).
Things Knitting is Trying to Teach
In addition to the 45 lessons knitting has already taught Pearl-McPhee, there are a few lessons knitting is trying to get to her that she hasn't fully absorbed yet, which are scattered through the book.
For example: "Knitting is still trying to teach me that no matter how well you knit, looking at your work too closely isn't helpful. It's like kissing with your eyes open: nobody looks good that close up."
Or: "Knitting is still trying to teach me that making big mistakes when you're learning is how it goes. It is why knitting can unravel (as many times as you need it to)."
As usual, this book is full of heartwarming gems that will make readers glad they get to be knitters, as well as passages that will make them laugh out loud, in recognition of something they've done or felt as well, or in relief that they've never done that (yet, at least).
Unlike some of her other books, this one does not contain any patterns or specific knitting tips and techniques. That may disappoint some readers, but the book is well worth reading anyway.
It might not be as essential to have on your bookshelf as some of her other books, but it can certainly give you a boost when you're stressing about a sleeve that just won't go right or a sock that seems like it will never end.
Publication date: March 2008.