Knitting Out Loud continues to mine the wealth of literature available in the knitting sub-genre and Lela Nargi’s opening salvo into the playing field -- Knitting Lessons -- has emerged as a recent addition to their line of audio-books to knit by. Folded within Knitting Lessons are Nargi’s own first attempts at knitting which are recounted in tandem with the personal interviews she conducted nation-wide at the beginning of the modern knitting craze.
While the subject matter may seem similar to Nargi’s later release Knitting Memories, published in 2006, this 2004 title is less formal and more spontaneous. Nargi’s wide-eyed enthusiasm and newly discovered zeal for the art of knitting comes through as she plunges willy-nilly into her quest to interview someone, anyone who’ll talk to her about knitting. Where Knitting Memories comes across as a careful selection of essays from knitting notables, Knitting Lessons finds Nargi assaulting the local yarn shop owner, women on the street, and strangers in online knitting forums with her interview questions. In the midst of her nationwide search she does manage to snag some interviews from distinguished knitters who have achieved, in her terms “craft world uberness”.
Cobbled together from telephone discussions, in person interviews, and emails, 27 knitters are interviewed and share their stories along with Nargi’s. The author provides an update at the beginning of the audio book sharing the paths that some of her contributors have continued to tread, tracing career paths as the hand-knitting industry has grown and flourished. Notable names include Teva Durham – author, designer and now former editor of Vogue Knitting International, and Clara Parkes of Knitters Review, amongst others. Some of the interviews that struck me as the most moving were those of everyday knitters, such as the Brownstein family, three generations of Jewish women with a history of knitting passed down by grandmothers to granddaughters stretching back into antiquity.