Thursday, 3 April 2014

New books and an extra tool

It's been some months, I have been meaning to write about two wonderful books, Knitter's Almanac and The Opinionated Knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann which I bought last Autumn, but now I have a great opportunity to write altogether about books with the very recent addition of Íslensk Sjónabók!



Let's begin with EZ. I am relatively late (in the knitting world), in acquiring something she wrote, but I think with Zimmermann's works, timing doesn't really matter. Her writing and designs are truly timeless, maybe even the classics version of knitting.

So far I have read a few sections of the Almanac, and only stared(mostly) at pictures of the Opinionated Knitter. I enjoy her writing very much and I find (as other knitters have pointed out) reading the Almanac very relaxing. Every Chapter of the book, which is dedicated to a month, begins with a story, mostly from her personal life, includes description of techniques and then ends up describing a pattern - in two ways. One is written just like the rest of the chapter, very descriptively, and the other way, more concise, briefer, with a chart or two whenever needed.


She has a very literary style of writing and it's obvious that she enjoyed what she was doing, otherwise, I think, she wouldn't write whole stories around an idea, a technique, a pattern. Sometimes it's a disadvantage of popularity and commercialization that many books are being created not for the sake of the Art itself, but rather as instruction or pattern books. Not that they are not needed - it's just that, for me, we have become so focused in the "How to"s that we have forgotten to think. Inside a book and outside it. 

This is also something that has been bothering me during the knitting classes I have been delivering. The vast majority of my students were not interested in learning an art, rather than learning instructions on how to make this and that. Fast and cheap. The simpler, the better, of course and with as little effort as possible. 
Sure, not everyone can be insanely interested from the start and be able to really see through things, but that does not excuse superficiality in such a high degree either, in my opinion. I won't elaborate more in this subject, since it's off topic.

Back on topic then!
I like that EZ speaks her mind openly and does not hesitate to fiddle with ideas, experiment and invent new techniques whenever she thinks she needs them. Her way of thinking really reminds me how I learned how to knit, how through experimentation and trial/error attempts I 'unvented' myself what I was too lazy to read and learn from books.

And it's very important to consider the period of time she was working and writing these books - what that means for the perception of women, knitting and the combination of both. I like to believe that she was ahead of her time, and her work changed how knitting is really today. I am glad that there are so many knitters around the world that look up to her and idolise her: because sadly, not many women think like her today, even in the 21st century.

I also like that many of her patterns are presented as 'recipes': not so strictly specific instructions, rather a more free description of the construction. A detail which really lines up with EZ's style: showing you how to think, instead of showing you the way to sheepishly follow instructions. >>> Not that I am against these kind of patterns, I am writing some myself! They have some really beneficial aspects. It's just that for me, the ideal knitting world would be the one, where the knitters would desire(and ask for) more recipes and less patterns. ^^ That, naturally, requires a large population of patient, open-minded and thinking knitters that are not afraid to experiment and spend a little more time over instructions to figure out what's up and what's best for the piece they are working on.

On to the Opinionated Knitter, the pictures are just gorgeous! And I have my eye already on some of the patterns. Just from the sketches some pieces seem quite interesting construction-wise. Wether I will find enough time to make what I want, or in the end just read the instructions to get the basic idea, is something I can't predict. Time will show. ^^


On the beginning of the post I have linked a source where you can find both books for online ordering. I leave in a country where for such books the Internet is the only option and I find it important to have an easy way to acquire such items. You can find more about EZ and her books, where else, on Google of course. 


The third book is Íslensk Sjónabók and I saw it for the first time during my visit at the Icelandic Textile Museum, and I was so amazed, that it landed on my mental wishlist instantly. When I returned home I did my research and found I could buy it on Shopicelandic.com, but was a bit disappointed by it's price - 127 euros. I didn't have that money at the time, nevertheless I was set on to get it someday. 
Fast forward to March 2014, there is a 20% discount on the same site, and a few minutes later the deed was done. I got the book fast enough and totally felt like the best money ever spent. Now that I had more time with it, I fell in love with it more: it includes all kinds of Icelandic ornaments that have appeared in Icelandic crafts, some are even dating back to the 1700s. This is an amazing source of inspiration and information: there are several pages in the front where a few things are being explained, both in Icelandic and English, the rest of this bulky book is pictures and charts. Oh, the charts!


There is quite a lot of work done for this book, that does explain it's price. It also comes with a beautiful shimmering bronze hard cover. (to die for!!)

There is also an extra in today's ultra lengthy post (I am extreme sometimes: either I don't post at all, or write extremely long posts). This beautiful little item comes from Finland, the succaplokki needle gauge. I got mine from pleko.gr, but you should totally check out the Succaplokki etsy shop, where all kinds of goodies are been offered. It's über-useful. Now I don't mix my dpns and circular needles that have no size markings on them anymore! ^^



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