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Book Review: For The Love of Knitting by Kari Cornell and Fiber Gathering by Joanne Seiff

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For the Love of Knitting: A Celebration of the Knitter’s Art is a wide-reaching compendium of history, anecdotes, and imagery, edited by Kari Cornell with contributions from Melanie Falick, Elizabeth Zimmermann, Meg Swansen, Susan Gordon Lydon, and more.

The book consists of five chapters, arranged by topic. “Knitting the First Stitch” features essays from knitters on how they got started knitting. Particularly amusing is the essay from Suzyn Jackson about how she learned to knit while standing on the subway. “The Yarn Shop and Beyond” contains essays about the fixation many knitters have with yarn. With some it is an absolute fetish, like Naomi Dagen Bloom, whose husband took up spinning so she always had yarn. “Handknit With Love” consists of knitters talking about projects near and dear to their heart, while “The Art of Knitting” looks specifically at knitting as a non-functional artform. “Our Knitting Heritage” looks at historical tales of knitting. The book is also well illustrated with a vast collection of vintage pamphlets, adverts, and photos.

Fiber Gathering: Knit, Crochet, Spin, and Dye More Than 25 Projects Inspired by America’s Festivals by Joanne Seiff offers lots of essays intermingled with related projects. Divided by region (“West,” “Southwest,” “Northeast,” and “South”) each chapter takes the reader on a tour through a regional fiber festival and offers a project or technique, such as a beginners guide to dyeing, washing fleece to prep it for spinning, and how to assist in a sheep shearing.

The knitting patterns are uninspired. “Deep V” is a basic V-neck ribbed pullover. “Festive Fingerless Mitts” are also ribbed, with beaded accents. “Evergreen” is a basic leaf motif lace shawl. “Fishtail Vest” is an unflattering vest with lace trim. “Icelandic Winter Cap” is a very simple, very basic rolled-hem ribbed cap. I do like “Blossom,” a scarf with a simple blooming pattern and scalloped edges. “Quick Felted Sweater Bag” is a good idea, offering directions for turning an old, unworn sweater into a handbag.

Overall, buy these books to read about knitting, not to knit.

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