OK, wiseguys, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t knitting already slow enough? Don’t we long to knit faster, not slower? Don’t we wish we had twice the speed, and twice the time, to crank out the FOs?
Simmer down for a minute and listen. I think author Hannah Thiessen is onto something.
For me, knitting started out as an antidote to the nerve-jangling busy-ness of work and life, and eventually that big bomb of busy-busy-busy: kids. When I found time to knit, I could feel my blood pressure lowering with every stitch, and I still do. I often try to explain to non-knitters how knitting brings me to a calm, centered place where my thoughts are clearer.
But over the years, as I followed my knitting enthusiasms, my behavior started to change. I bought more than I could knit. I cast on more than I realistically could hope to bind off. And that started to create the same kind of stress that any kind of overstimulation, overuse, overcommitment can cause. I shake it off, muttering, “This is my happy place! I have no obligation to finish any of this, so I refuse to let it stress me.” But it does. Sometimes, a little.
Hannah Thiessen’s book, Slow Knitting: A Journey from Sheep to Skein to Stitch is not a sermon against consumerism or a brake on enthusiasm. It is not preaching a puritanical renovation of my happy place, or putting me on a yarn diet (a term so odious to me, with its flavor of imposed deprivation, that I don’t even like to type it). Slow Knitting suggests, gently and persuasively, through real stories of how wool is grown and sheared and spun into yarn, and how meaningful a well-wrought garment can be in our lives, that there could be a virtue to slowing down and savoring knitting the way we did as beginners. Not to stop knitting gifts, for example, but to stop trying to knit them on a deadline, as if a handknit gift were just another obligation in our lives.
To take more time choosing, both pattern and yarn. To take more time swatching. And then to knit with real satisfaction, and wear with real pride, for years.
In addition to the thoughtful text, which includes a wonderful essay by slow fashion pioneer Karen Templer, the pleasure of this book is its beauty. The photography, by Katie Meek, glows. Dark backgrounds highlight the luminousness of natural fibers, dyed and undyed. The patterns are worthy; they are modern, simple, classic and friendly. Hannah Thiessen has done her research, and talked to people who truly have insight into the process of making both yarn and clothing.
The designer list is impressive, a star-studded cast that (I’m proud to say) includes MDK contributors Véronik Avery, Julia Farwell-Clay, Carol Feller, Bristol Ivy, and Kirsten Kapur. The book also tells the stories of fascinating yarn makers, including Green Mountain Spinnery, Julie Asselin, Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co., Bare Naked Wools, Sincere Sheep, and Jill Draper Makes Stuff.
Try It, You’ll Like It
When we learned that Slow Knitting was coming down the pike, we asked the publisher if we might share an excerpt with our readers, and they graciously agreed. So, with thanks to Abrams, we are delighted to present the pattern for the Sheep Sorrel Hat and Mitts by Pam Allen.
Each piece in the set is a study in knit and purl, with a sweet mini-cable in the mix.