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Today is an important day for someone who is important to us. It’s the official publication day for Melanie Falick’s book, Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to LiveIt’s an essential book for knitters, and anyone who feels the deep pull to do handwork of any kind.

The message of this book is right there in the title: we humans are meant to work with our hands. That’s why we find such satisfaction in literal handcrafts like knitting, of course, but also in fixing a dripping kitchen faucet or dicing a carrot.

Working with our hands makes us feel at home in our bodies and minds, it brings deep contentment. Yet handwork is rarely spoken of in our hyper, technologically driven culture, or when it is spoken of, it’s trivialized as something to occupy spare time, to keep busy if there is nothing more important to do.

Making a Life makes the case for the vital importance of making by hand. The book is also—as an object that itself was crafted, by Melanie—a glorious celebration of the beauty of handmade things and their makers.

For the past three years, we’ve been looking on from the sidelines as Melanie, the creative director and editor of our MDK Field Guide series, traveled widely and constantly, interviewing thinkers and makers, and making things herself in their studios, homes, barns, and workshops. We knew it would be excellent, elevating, and beautiful—we’ve been fans of Melanie since we first laid eyes on her early gift to the craft of knitting, her book Knitting in America—but we had no idea what to expect. The topic is so broad, and so deep. What words and images would Melanie gather to make her case?

Melanie had me on the first page, with a quote from author Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

This is a statement that makes me feel good when I’m knitting, or putting a pie into the oven, and haunts me when I’m looking at my phone instead of making contact with another human, or even just looking at the world through the bus window. But it’s an excellent point, isn’t it?

It’s a gorgeous book, with photographs by the brilliant Rinne Allen that take us into these makers’ spaces, worlds, and lives, with immediacy and beautifully observed detail. The featured makers include quilters and woodworkers, knitters and welders, and many others. Here’s a peek at what you’ll find inside.

Renate Hiller.
Natalie Chanin.
African American Quilt Guild of Oakland.
Keiko Hirosue and the Brooklyn Shoe Space.
Dolores Swift.


Get Your Copy!

We love Making a Life so much that we are carrying it in the MDK Shop. It’s one of the best gifts we can think of, for yourself and for anyone who longs for more meaningful days, and lives.

Congratulations to our cherished editor and dear friend Melanie, on this achievement on behalf of making and makers, and also on Making a Life being selected for the Publishers Weekly list of the best books of 2019. It’s so well deserved, and we are bursting our buttons.

Why Is Making by Hand Important to You?

Melanie wants to know your story. Why is making by hand important to you?

She’s collecting the answers on her website, and also on Instagram using the hashtag #makingalife. It’s a fascinating and inspiring conversation.

Melanie’s Book Tour Is Coming To You

Melanie will be all over the country in the coming weeks, so don’t miss to chance to meet her, hear some good conversation, and have her sign your copy of Making a Life.

4 November 2019, 7PM
The Long Time
5707 Dunlap Rd N, Austin, TX
In conversation with Maura Ambrose, Jack Sanders, and Dan Dyer. In collaboration with BookPeople.
See poster for more information.

7 November 2019, 7PM
Strand Bookstore
828 Broadway, New York, NY
In conversation with Lotta Jansdotter, Elsa Mora, and Renate Hiller.

9 November 2019, Time, 2PM
University of Washington Bookstore
Seattle, WA
In conversation with Nikki McClure, Tif Fussell, and Ellen Dissanayake.
See poster for more information.

9 November 2019, 5:30PM
The Fabricated & the Found ATELIER
4764 Tolt Avenue, Carnation, WA

10 November 2019, 3PM 
A Verb for Keeping Warm 
6328 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA
In conversation with Windy Chien, Marie Taylor, Kristine Vejar, and Adrienne Rodriguez.

12 November 2019, 7PM
561 Post Road East, Westport, CT
In conversation with Joelle Hoverson, Frances Palmer, and Nigel Holmes. Contact Terrain for tickets.

16 November 2019, 2-4PM 
Loop London’s NYC Pop-Up @ Here Now Space
132 Perry Street #2B, New York, NY
A meet-and-greet.

19 November, 6PM
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe
55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC
In conversation with Jessica Green.
See poster for more information.

12 December, 7PM
Imogene + Willie (with Allison Moorer)
2601 12th Ave. S, Nashville, TN

14 December, 3PM
Drop Forge & Tool @ Hudson Hall
327 Warren St., Hudson, NY
In conversation with Katharine Daugherty.

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  • Picked up this book at local bookstore last week. It is amazing. This book should be in everyone’s collection. A must buy!

  • Any book Melanie has a hand in making is always a beauty, literally and spiritually…

  • As I was reading this post, I became aware of the times when I’m knitting when I can feel the satisfaction of both hands working together. At those times I feel a deep gratitude that both sides of my brain are healthy and working together. Right side / left side, both sides of the body uniting. When I have been away from knitting for a while and feel the craving for it I can actually feel it in my hands wanting to work together.

    Sometimes it is like a prayer and a meditation.

  • I preordered from Amazon when I first heard about this book, so Making a Life arrived yesterday. It is so beautiful! I want to take it in all at once, but I also want to meet her makers slowly, one or two at a sitting.
    Between Making a Life and Clara Parkes’ Vanishing Fleece, October has been an amazing month for books!

    • Right? We deserve this!

  • Huge congrats to Melanie on a BEAUTIFUL book. Can’t wait to read and page through the gorgeousness.

  • I am SO looking forward to Making a Life! I am a later arrival to the Melanie Falick appreciation society, which for me happened after I read Handknit Holidays. Though many of the projects in it were beyond my skill level as a new knitter, I still loved the beautiful book, and have made it one of my holiday traditions, returning to it every December. One project that WAS within my skill level at the time was the Elf Cap, made from Jumbo wool, which turned out great. It was one of the first hats I ever made, and I still wear it happily during the Winter Holiday months! (I love how whimsical and easy it is. I have made at least 3 other hats using the pattern and will doubtless make more.) Making a Life is definitely going on my wish list for this Christmas

    • I love your description – it’s a special treat when we can come back to a book again and again, able to enjoy a new element 🙂

  • yeah…..she’s coming to Asheville ….celebrate

    • Colleen, So glad you’re excited about my event in Asheville. Can you do me a favor and help spread the word?

      • Can we lure you inland? When are you coming to Chicago?

        • Would love to see you in Chicago. For right now the publisher has only agreed to a few cities, but maybe they will reconsider. Fingers crossed.

      • loudly, gladly

        • Thank you. See you soon.

  • Congratulations to Melanie on what promises to be another richly beautiful and meaningful book experience for people at every stage in their own “making a life” journey. I had recommended this book for acquisition at my library only to discover they already have it listed!

  • Many times when I am knitting, I am able to think over and solve some complex issues with work and life that have nothing to do with knitting. The crafting process seems to stimulate a cognitive process for me, this is truly a great reward.

  • So lovely to see Renate Hiller included. She is a very special women.

  • Instructed my husband that this book will be one of my Christmas gifts! How about stopping by the Midwest?? St. Louis has makers too!! (Left Bank Books is a great place to make an appearance!)

    • Would love to.

  • I have been a fan of Melanie’s work since Knitting In America (purchased when I didn’t even knit!). Since then I have purchased every book I came across that she had a hand in. I will purchase this one too, and not leave it to the vagaries of my Christmas list buyers. Today I made a pie, knitted, and cross stitched. There is a quilted wall hanging in progress.

    Melanie’s work seems to speak to me in a way few others do. Grateful thanks to her for sharing her talents with all of us. Jean

  • I am so excited that you’ll be coming to my neck of the woods (Hudson), and I’ve reserved my ticket. Can’t wait to see you!

  • My copy just arrived from MDK and I’ve been reading it all day. It has already helped me understand why I spend time growing vegetable gardens as pretty as they are productive, how caring for chickens adds fresh eggs and “lends rhythm and meaning to my days,” how chopping and cooking vegetables connects the food I grow to my ancestors whose recipes I recreate, and how my mother’s needlepoints “hold the power of a moment of quiet attention.” I look forward to seeing where this beautiful book takes me and to meeting Melanie in Nashville in December.

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