Knitters Spin a New Volume of Yarns
Sunday, December 25, 2006, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, FL
Knitting is one of the few handcrafts that is solitary and social. The act of knotting wool or silk or cashmere into designs simple and spectacular creates a mixture of physical pleasure and spiritual comfort.
Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf, editors of the KnitLit series, know this. Their current installment, ``KnitLit the Third'' (Three Rivers Press, $14), brings the knitting experience to life with more than 70 personal knitting stories grouped under headings such as ``What's in my head?'' ``Who's in my life?'' and ``What's in my basket?''
There is Charmian Christie's binge knitter confession and Barbara Fornoff's ``things one should not do while driving.'' Marilyn Webster knits a shawl for her estranged partner and reveals a woman tender and wise, and Corey Mesler's intimate observation of his wife as she knits is refreshing. Elliott Carpenito takes us through the painful wait for a newly adopted son, with knitting his only comfort.
Knitting is described as obsessive, maddening, artistic and healing. It begins as something every young woman knew how to do, disdainfully devolves into ``women's work'' and is reborn as the ultimate stress-buster. It is a skill sometimes forced, sometimes coveted, but always deeply personal.
Dorothy North's Eighty-two Rows in Garter Stitch illustrates the generational bridge that is built with needle and yarn. The reader is treated to the inner conversation of the elder as she copes with and teaches the younger. Knitting is their only shared interest, and the sharing is tenuous at best.
Ann Hood's story of heartbreaking loss, ``How Knitting Saved My Life,'' is beautifully written, poignant and hauntingly honest. In deepest grief, Hood's message is uplifting.
In another story of loss, ``
My Mother's Hands,'' Kate Dudding worries that memories of her mother, who died 10 years ago, are fading to what Kate sees in pictures. Then she remembers the one thing not shown in pictures. Her mother's hands, knitting. Vivid, visceral memories come to light and comfort Dudding with her lingering loss.
Although every story is personal, similar descriptions of the process of knitting recur: the feel of various textures, the emotions of various colors, and the visual and tactile sensations of yarn as it slips between the fingers. Throughout the collection, the frustration and satisfaction and ultimately the peace found in the process of knitting are shared.
Knitters are a heterogenous population. They are young and old, rich and poor, white collar and blue collar, Christian, Jew, Muslim and atheist. It is experience -- the act of knitting -- that is the common thread.