London is well-known for a lot of reasons, but one thing it should be noted for is its large population of knitters. Lauren O'Farrell, author of the quirky and fun book Stitch London: 20 Kooky Ways to Knit the City and More, writes that "you are probably never more than ten metres away from a London knitter at any time."
And she should know, being one of the three founders of a knitting group that became the London Stitch'n Bitch and is now known as Stitch London, a group thousands strong that O'Farrell still heads up.
The book offers locals, tourists and Anglophiles alike a chance to knit a piece of the city, whether its the clock tower of Big Ben, a city pigeon or the queen herself.
About the Book
- Pages: 128
- Format: paperback
- Number of patterns: 18, though some have multiple variations
- Skill level: patterns are rated "tourist" for the easiest ones, "London local" for those that require more skill and "black cab driver" for the most advanced; 7 are rated tourist, 7 London local and 4 black cab driver
- Illustrations: full-color photos
- Knitting lessons: 14 pages titled "The Way of the Knit" cover most of the basics and skills you'll need to complete the patterns in the book
- Bonus: the book comes with all the materials you need to knit Cooey the Pigeon (except for the stuffing)
Stitch London is divided by theme into patterns for London landmarks and iconic people, knits you'll want to work in the city (or anywhere else) and creatures you might find in the city and knits to help you enjoy nature.
There's really a wide variety of patterns here, from a tiny telephone box (you can bet this one has inspired a fair number of Tardis knock-offs) to a fibery fox, a picnic blanket made of plarn to a book cozy so you can hide whatever awful thing you're reading on the tube.
In the world of more practical knits, there's also a scarf, panels to decorate your messenger bag, a laptop sock and mug cozies.
The patterns are designed to, as O'Farrell puts it, provide lots of "squee" and get people interested in what you're knitting should you be knitting in public.
The projects are cute, though I don't know that I'd ever really knit a Tower Bridge or a London police officer. They and the book itself certainly give you a feel for what living and knitting in London is like, and that's fun even if you never knit any of the patterns.
O'Farrell also aims to inspire knitters to go their own way, providing lots of ideas for how to change these patterns up and make landmarks for a different city, different kinds of people and different animals, for instance.
The patterns rated the most difficult are not really all that hard. They're mostly the people, which rate as more advanced because they are small and thus contain more skill in a small space than the other projects do. There's shaping, color changes, tiny arms and lots of details, all of which make them a little fiddly but also a lot of fun and a big impact when they're finished.
Stitch London is a really fun book. I'm sure it was as fun to write as it is to page through, feeling the influence of London on every page. The patterns are cute, especially if you're into amigurumi or just like all things British.
And, as the book mentions, the patterns are very adaptable to be made into other things, so you could use this book as a basis to knit your own hometown or any other city that you love.
The thing I love about books like this is that they get us thinking about different things that we can knit and how we might represent different things in our knitting. Even if you never knit a building yourself, just looking at these patterns is sure to change the way you think about knitting for at least a little while after.
Publication date: August 2011