Minions (who do my bidding) and Followers (who do not)

About Me

My photo
Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review #5: Knitalong by Larissa & Martin John Brown

Happy end of May! Today marks the one-year anniversary of Husband starting his job here in San Francisco! Of course, Little Man and I haven't been out here a full year...that will happen in July.

We're not here to talk about all that, though. I'm late on my book review (yes, again)...I'm also late on my yarn review. I hope to get that done for tomorrow. We'll see. It'll mean three straight days of blogging because I also plan to have a post ready for FO Friday. ::sigh::

Anyway, moving on....

The book(s) in question are books that I have purchased (or someone bought me for a Christmas and/or birthday present) for my own fibery library. I have been given no money or other non-monetary forms of payment for my book reviews. The reviews are based on my own experience(s) and opinion(s) and may not necessarily coincide with the thoughts and opinions of other fiber enthusiasts (though they certainly may). I may also throw in some other fun information. We'll see where we end up...

And there's my disclaimer.

Today's book, if you didn't read the title to this post, is Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together. 

Photo from Amazon

The Basics
Author: Larissa Brown & Martin John Brown
Publisher: STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book, 2008
Hardcover: 160 pages
Language: English
Cover Price: $22.50/$26.95 CAN/£10.99 UK (though I've found it on Amazon for as little as $15.75...and as much as $59.37 - no idea why on that one)

The book was found one sunny afternoon while I was a student at the University of Wisconsin. I was pregnant with Little Man so this was the spring of 2010. I had been knitting for almost two years by that point so I was in my "collecting" stage (where I bought ALL THE THINGS). This was hiding in the University Bookstore in the small craft section (this is the campus University Bookstore on State Street - the one where you get your books for classes). I picked it up, flipped through it, and decided it needed to come home.

Larissa Brown learned to knit in the 1970s from her grandmother, Olive (this story is in the book). It's the one thing she kept learning and practicing. She currently has several independent patterns on Ravelry as well as two books (this one as well as My Grandmother's Knitting) and works published in at least five other magazines/books/collections. Her website can be found here. She's not just a fiber artist, however. She's also an artist artist. Her artwork can be found here. Martin John Brown, on the other hand, is not a fiber artist from. He's a freelance writer. And yes, he and Larissa are a couple. Together, they have a son, Sebastian, and live in Portland, Oregon. His website can be found here. His works tend to focus more on environmental and historical topics but he has been known to branch out. He and Larissa also co-wrote a business book, Demystifying Grant Seeking.

Knitalong is a book about the social aspects of knitting. It is split into six chapters, each building on the previous chapter. Each chapter also has at least one pattern attached to it. The first chapter is about where people get together to knit (cafes, knitting circles/meet-ups, knit-ins, etc - by the way, The Sow's Ear in Verona, WI is mentioned in this of my LYS's back when I lived in Wisconsin). The second chapter talks about what brought people together to knit (knitting for the war, knitting to pay for something, making hard work easier, etc.). Chapter three looks at how knitters can find their own voice, style, niche in amongst the knitalong culture. There are groups online (Ravelry is FULL of subgroups and that's only one corner of the internet), groups that meet in LYS's, mailing lists, blogs, etc. The fourth chapter looks at bettering yourself, however you see fit. It includes things like knitting for the county fair, learning something knew via a knitalong (like deciding it's time to learn colorwork so doing a KAL for colorwork mittens), or traveling projects that someone will start, send to someone else and they work on it and send it along (there's a blanket swap that goes on in one of the groups I belong to on Ravelry - I haven't participated yet). Chapter five is about such things as swaps (actual swaps where you send something to someone else and they, or someone else in the group, sends you something), upcycling, and RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness). The last chapter is for things like knitting abbreviations, special techniques, supply sources, acknowledgements, and photo credits (basically, it's the catch-all section).

This book isn't for a "I want a lot of projects to make" kind of knitter. Yes, there are projects in the book (and some rather lovely ones, I might add) but it's more on the sociohistorical aspect of knitting and how it translates to current times. I like it for the "other" stuff that you won't normally find in knitting publications. I also like the social aspect of knitting and wish I did it more often. Knitting by yourself has it's merit but once in awhile, you need another pair of eyes or someone to talk to.

This book isn't for everyone. Some people just want a bunch of patterns and that's fine. This is more textbook, less patterns. Obviously it's a book I like...I own it, after all. I've actually read all the text in this book (including the patterns). It's one of the few knitting books I own where I've read everything. Usually I'll read a section...but not the entire thing. It's a good book to You can't say that about a lot of knitting books.

Anyway, I suggest that if you're interested in the history of the social aspects of knitting that you pick this book up.


  1. Sounds like a really neat book. I think I'd like to read it1

  2. Sounds like an interesting book, especially for a knitter who loves history.