A Knitter's Home Companion by Michelle Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Since I started collecting advance copies of books to review at Goodreads, collecting the mail has become one of my happiest tasks. The sense that "something special might arrive for me" infuses my day with some small bit of happy expectancy -- so much so that I broke my own "no buying more Stuff before moving" rule and bought a book for myself earlier this month. Last week A Knitter's Home Companion arrived in the mail, and I abandoned a ridiculous novel I'd selected from the library with higher hopes than it deserved in favor of curling up on the sofa with Michelle's little book.
This is an odd little book. It's organized into brief, titled sections that are more memoir than essay and laid out so that sweet illustrations, asides, and pattern/technique notes interrupt the flow. After we encounter particular people, places, and projects, a page turn reveals a pattern or recipe redolent of their stories. It's exactly the sort of "real life storybook" that I like, and reminds me a bit of Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times, which I read and loved during the storms of January.
I confess that I don't care for most of the patterns included; I prefer clean lines and clearly defined stitches as opposed to the large gauge, bulky pieces that Michelle shared. That said, the Clutch of Inspiration is right up my alley, and the story of The Mitten Ladies and the Pearl mitten pattern that followed with instructions for
charity knitting stopped me in my tracks. Literally; I was reading while walking home from work. As soon as I arrived, I pulled out my stash basket and found something approximating the yarn she called for, then cast on for the cuff. I didn't pick up the book until I'd bound off.
Being that so much of the volume is memoir, I found myself caring deeply for Michelle's family; feeling the ache of loss as she described herself and her husband in their orphaned state, and the hunger after connection she felt -- and found -- in a community of knitters. Characters make any story, and this book is full of gentle sketches of the people Michelle has loved. It's a feel-good read that wraps you up, rather like a nubbly sweater with sleeves you can roll up, in a soft yarn that disguises dropped and twisted stitches with easy forgiveness.
First published at Goodreads