Thursday, March 22, 2012

Top 5 picture books about knitting

"Knitting is a boon for those of us who are easily bored. I take my knitting everywhere to take the edge off of moments that would otherwise drive me stark raving mad."
- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

If I could spend my days knitting and sleeping (with TV on in the background – and the occasional book to read), I would be very happy...

I <3 knitting. The meditative state it puts me in. The maths and problem solving. The physical nature of it. The pleasure in completing something. The joy in seeing that something being used and enjoyed.

One of my sisters made a rude comment once about handknitted socks – why did I bother making them when they’re so cheap to buy. So, being vengeful… I didn’t give her a pair for her birthday. And then, she had to listen to five other family members rave about their handknitted socks. So, I relented. And she said 'it's like putting your feet into heaven...' and that’s why I knit.

Because I really do knit love into each stitch (yeah, maybe a few swear words, or exasperated sighs along the way, but I try to keep them down)...

These picture books celebrate and acknowledge the love and caring – and addiction – that goes into knitting.

* Knitty Kitty / David Elliott ; illustrated by Christopher Denise
Knitty Kitty is knitting a scarf, a hat, and some mittens for her kittens, but when night falls and the snow comes down, the kittens request a blanket to keep them warm but Knitty Kitty has a better idea.

Annie’s comments: I appreciate the love that Knitty Kitty expresses through her knitting. But, the illustrations are a bit confusing for younger readers. Knitty Kitty is anthropomorphised – knitting, in a chair, dressed in human clothes… but her kittens are kittens. You know, cat-like... and she’s human-like. Mixed messages at best.

* Noodle's knitting / Sheryl Webster ; [illustrated by] Caroline Pedler
A mouse named Noodle finds a ball of wool and decides to knit a scarf, which grows so big that she is trapped inside her house.

Annie’s comments: Noodle shows the dangers of knitting – sometimes knitters become obsessed… and sometimes beginner knitters need to be reigned in – and taught how to cast off – before their knitting project takes over the world. Cute.

Annie Hoot and the knitting extravaganza / Holly Clifton-Brown "Annie Hoot, an owl, loves to knit, but the other owls in the woods will not wear the clothes she makes for them so she goes off in search of other animals that will appreciate her knitwear."--Publisher's description. Annie’s comments: yeah, ummm… this one cuts a little too close to the bone :D. My name, the owl – and the frenetic, knitting-fixes-all attitude… and the lack of appreciation those closest to you can sometimes show towards your lovingly meant gifts. No, it’s not my picture book autobiography – but it feels like it could be.

Extra yarn / by Mac Barnett ; illustrated by Jon Klassen. With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

Annie’s comments: I want Annabelle’s knitting box. Seriously! Do you have any idea how big my yarn stash is? I think I’ve reached the level of SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy... ie more knitting yarn than I will ever deal with in my lifetime). Not so sure I’d knit a sweater for a ute, tho!

With love from Grandma / by Harriet Ziefert ; pictures by Deborah Kogan Ray
Sarah’s grandmother loves to knit, and from her needles emerge hats and gloves, mittens and socks, sweaters and scarves, all to keep her children and grandchildren warm. Now it’s Sarah’s turn to get something extra-special: a big, beautiful afghan, made from wool Sarah has chosen herself. Something that large takes time, however. Summer turns to fall, school begins, Halloween comes, then Thanksgiving. Finally, Grandma announces she’s coming to visit—with the afghan. Sarah’s wait is almost over. But there’s still one thing left to do...

Annie’s comments: This is a heart-warming story of family love and traditions, and the joy to be found in precious handcrafted heirlooms.

Mr Nick's knitting / Margaret Wild & Dee Huxley
Mr Nick and Mrs Jolley met every morning on the train, where they both sat knitting until they got off. One morning Mrs Jolley wasn't there; she was in hospital. Mr Nick knitted her a present that would make her happy and help her get well.

Annie’s comments: knitters really do understand each other – and friendship can be formed, based on the fact you both knit. This book celebrates the knitting community and support that comes from within it. When a friend of mine lost their apartment in Christchurch, due the February earthquake, I cried. And I wondered what I could do – in Auckland. I knew she knitted. So I sent her down a copy of my favourite sock pattern (I’d sent her one earlier), a ball of my favourite sock wool, a set of needles, a sewing-up needle, and a card. And it made her cry, but in a happy way.

The story blanket by Ferida Wolff The story blanket / Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz ; illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Babba Zarrah has a beautiful woollen sitting blanket, which the children sit on to listen to her stories. Babba Zarrah always says that 'every question has an answer', and when she realises the villagers need new clothes, Babba Zarrah begins to unravel her blanket in secret to make them. She makes so many surprises that soon there is no more blanket to sit on. But when the villagers discover Babba Zarrah's secret, they decide to give Babba Zarrah a surprise in return...

Annie’s comments: I love Babba Zarrah. What’s not to love? She gathers the children together on her blanket and tells them stories. She loves her neighbours so much, she sacrifices her blanket to keep them warm (even the tailor’s cat). And her neighbours respond in kind. Warmth and love leap out of this book.

List by Annie

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