January is a wooly time of year. And if you can’t knit (like me) some mittens for your kittens, the least you can do is read those kittens some knitting-themed books. Hand-knit hats will keep your keppie toasty according to Mrs. Goldman in A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This warm story will remind readers to look for ways to practice good deeds (and accept interesting gifts graciously).
In my experience as designated reader, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett is a perfectly paced fable that packs a lot of drama (and humor) into very few words. Jon Klassen’s yarn-textured illustrations are droll and wonderful. In this story, knitting is a gentle act of generosity with the power to transform a drab, chilled world.
Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosnol fits my wintry mood exactly. A person will go to great lengths for a little space (in this story, space as in outer space)–only to want to return to the warm heart of home and family (armed with woolens for everyone).
For middle-grade readers (knitters and non-knitters alike), Danielle Davis’s Zinnia and the Bees is a quirky, sweet yarn-bomb of a book (see my earlier review here).
I still can’t knit, but I did recently attempt some French knitting/spool knitting (I found some good instructional photos at Lion Brand Yarns). It’s pleasantly addictive to do while watching Netflix although I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with the long ropes of yarn I was creating. Captain Wonderpaws seemed to like his rainbow collar . . .
I’m not a knitter. Nor a crocheter (besides some basics, which I learned just last winter). But the charming middle-grade novel Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis made me want to be both. Zinnia is a seventh-grade yarn bomber intent on putting an “exuberant sweater on the whole world.”
But when her yarn habit gets her into trouble, she finds that her beloved older brother and frequent accomplice has gone MIA. And her mother, Philomena Flossdrop, D.D.S., seems more devoted to dental hygiene and do-gooder community activism than to Zinnia.
Things unravel further when a swarm of runaway bees take up residence in the messy nest of curls atop Z’s head. She manages to disguise her beehive from most eyes but a boy named Birch takes notice. The story tangles and twists in unexpected ways before Zinnia, with a little help from her friends, comes to a new understanding of hive and home.
(By the way, these magical, sweater-clad trees can be found in a grove along the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington, Massachusetts thanks to a community art project and a gaggle of nimble makers known at the Arlington Knitters Brigade (which includes a few of my friends–you know who you are, Jennifer and Janet–and Holly!)
I am so excited to have discovered the lovely online magazine petite purls (thanks to the oliver + s blog). It is a treasure trove of free knitting patterns for kids with a few sewing patterns. Meg, I thought these mittens would be a great use for your upcycled sweaters. I made some felt mittens for Betty using a similar pattern that I painstakingly resized for her little hands from a pattern for adult fleece mittens. This pattern looks much easier! I might add a soft cotton lining if I made these in wool–just tuck the lining inside the mittens and bind the tops together. I love the ’70s style racing stripes.
I’m excited about this find: a new fabric & fibers store that invites you in to make something on the spot! Gather Here–located in Cambridge at 370 Broadway–is more than a store: it’s an urban stitch lounge, which if you’ve never heard of one (and I had not) is a community space with machines, supplies, and tables for hanging out, sharing interests, and creating stuff. The store also offers a Saturday morning knitter’s brunch and Thursday evening crafty cocktails, as well as classes in quilting, sewing, and embroidery basics.
After I shlep over today to check out Gather Here’s fabric selection–I’m headed for the Cambridge Public Library (the addition was designed by William Rawn Associates–and my husband!). Go sit in that hunk of a wood chair by the big window in the Children’s Room and read a stack of picture books–with, or without kids.
A three-day weekend, and a sale at my local, friendly yarn and fabric store, Brooklyn General–what could be better? Brooklyn General is a cozy store with a great selection of natural fibers, a helpful staff, and a doll’s house in case you have a small person in tow. Another great thing–a few times a year everything in the store is 25 percent off, which is such a treat. Here are the things I bought–the black fabric with the sporty cars is for a sewing machine cover, the yarn is for a keyhole scarf for my niece, and the plain cotton (Kona) is for just about anything.