What am I getting out of this? Aside from more blog exposure (hoooooooray!), I received an advance (digital) copy of the book to read and review. Nothing more, nothing less...that I know of (translation: that's what I remember out of the deal).
Like I said, it's a little bit different...
Anyway, onward and upward to the book review :)
|Photo from Reba Linker|
Author: Reba Linker (website)
Publisher: Arthur Kurzweil (November 8, 2013)
Paperback: 194 pages
Cover Price: $19.95 US
First, as per usual, a bit about Reba Linker. She started knitting about four years ago, joining a friend for classes at her local YMCA. She had learned when she was a child; her mother had taught her but it didn't really stick. She also spent some time during her high school years at a sheep farm. There, she learned to spin, weave, and work with natural dyes. She also attempted to shear a sheep...which didn't go so well.
As far as "real life" goes, she has a BA in Dance and an MA in Dance History from the University of California - Riverside (which is down toward Los Angeles). She also spent some time at UC-Berkeley (which is just across the Bay from me). From 2002-2007, she owned/operated a dance studio in New York City, where she still resides. She has also worked for the Cunningham Dance Foundation and for the Indo-US Subcommission on Education and Culture. She also has "one dog, one kid."
Oh, and let's not forget her other book: The Compost Heroes.
So, that's where we stand with Reba Linker. You may have noticed that I mentioned (emphasized?) that she started knitting four years ago, joining a friend for classes at her local YMCA. That's where her story, Follow The Yarn, begins. See, the classes she was taking at the Y were taught by a woman named Ann Sokolowski...and Ann wasn't your "normal" knitting teacher. After just a few short weeks, a little voice inside Ms. Linker's head kept saying, "write about Ann!"...and she did. Unfortunately, about nine months after she started knitting and after she had talked to Ann about her idea to write about her, Ann passed away and this story further insisted on being written.
From the very beginning of this book, I discovered it was not my usual book for knitting. Don't misunderstand me. There are many instances of practical knitting information throughout this book. But this is not a "how to" book, nor is it just a story that happens to involve knitting. It's kind of a...mesh of the two, almost in the vein of something Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot) would write.
And guess what? I like it.
Something else that I quite enjoy about this book is the...well, it doesn't go in the order you think it should. Preconceived notions would indicate that we would start with things like casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, increases, decreases, binding off, and so on. Instead, we start with a section about how to take care of handknit works of art.
Yes, you read that correctly. We start with information about washing and drying handknit items. And it sounds crazy but that was how Ann operated and, thus, how this book is organized.
Each chapter has both story and practical knitting advice. You'll even find patterns! It covers everything from washing & drying, to holding the yarn, to knitting a sampler (where you do not, under any circumstances, try to go back and fix mistakes!), to not buying crap (or knowing the place of each yarn), to measuring properly for a sweater, and so on. About midway through the book, Ann's story and Ms. Linker's story collide in a way that she definitely wasn't expecting and it gave her what she needed to move ahead.
One of my favorite quotes in the book seems to fully encompass Ann.
The wonder of Ann is not simply that she knew so much and gave so generously. The miracle is that she somehow was able to uncover each person's need. Not only could she help with diverse issues, she could discover them in the first place - two highly different skills. Some say there are no accidents in life, that we share a common bond with the person sitting next to us on the bus, or the person behind the cash register. This may be true, however, most of us never find out. We pass in anonymity, never knowing that perhaps we each hold the keys to unlock the other's challenges. Time and again, Ann did find out, and did something about it.
This book...what can I even say about this book other than you should own it and read it? It's not your normal knitting book. It's for beginners (but not as a "how to" book). It's for seasoned knitters. It's for crocheters. It's for children and adults. It has everything a book should have: practical advise, humor, photos, and a sense that the author has a clue about their subject matter.
Because this is part of a blog tour, other people are participating in their thoughts about the book. There are other reviews, podcasts, interviews with Reba Linker, giveaways, and so on...
Here is the full tour schedule:
1. Monday, November 11-Thursday, November 14: Guest post, "Are You Living Your Dreams" at Life, For Instance2. Monday, November 11, 6pm: The Sharon McWilliams Show, Walk of the Wise Woman (link)
3. Tuesday, November 12: Review at My Sister's Knitter
4. Wednesday, November 13: Review at Daydream Knits
5. Tuesday, November 19, 6pm: Radio interview at Artist First (direct mp3 link here)
6. Thursday, November 21, 12:30pm: Radio interview with Jaikaur LeBlanc on Grace, Grit & Gratitude (BlogTalk Radio)
9. Tuesday, November 26: Podcast book reading at Never Not Knitting
10. Thursday, December 5: Review at Confessions of a Yarn Addict (NEWSFLASH: this is where you are right now!)
11. Monday, December 9: Interview with Marcy Nelson-Garrison at Coaching Toys Blog
12. Thursday, December 10: Review at Nekomentsu
There's also a month-long book giveaway at Goodreads and possibly more to come!