Friday, September 08, 2006

It's What's inside that Counts

In the words of our beloved Dr. Houseman of Dirty Dancing fame, when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong, and Betty Hosegood, I was wrong about your book, Not Tonight Darling, I'm Knitting. Instead of ragging on you, I should have been offering you consolation, that your lovely coffee table book was shrunken down into a tiny novelty book, inappropriately named, and the victim of a ill-conceived marketing strategem. This is what I wrote about Not Tonight Darling a few months ago:

Is this a bad 70's porno film? The barechested, waxed down man on the bed? The bangs, the yellow (??), surely arylic yarn, the title, the author's name????? - Betsy HOSEGOOD (poor woman)???? All you need is that bad "bow chik a bow wow" music. No my friends, this book, which in it's description promises, "This glamorous and gifty book will inspire knitters everywhere to pick up their needles and join the fun. With real-life knitting stories, yarn shopping advice, a fresh look at knitting fashion and knitting testimonies from celebrities, this book is a must-have for anyone who loves to knit," will arrive in your local yarn stores in the fall. What celebrities? - a knitting testimonial from Anna Nicole Smith? Debbie Gets Her Knit on in Dallas?

Well, I have now seen Not Tonight Darling in person, and you would never know from the cover that inside is a treasury of vintage knitting photos, and a roundup of knitting fashion through the ages. The book, in its way, tries to explain how knitting has emerged as the new "in thing," when it's really always been a societal constant. I can't say that I bought the book, or that I even read much of the text, but the photographs alone make this book worth a second glance. Had this been published in its appropriate format - a large, glossy, coffeetable compendium, as opposed to an attempt to sell, I suppose, to a younger audience in a sexed up format, it might be sitting on my coffeetable now, next to my swift, and a bowl of lovely yarn.

So, while I passed on Not Tonight Darling, I did buy Tracy Ullman and Mel Carter's book, Knit 2 Together. Unfortunately, the server at work is not cooperating about uploading photos, so I'll put up a photo of the cover when I go home. Much to my surprise, I love this book. This book is not for the faint of heart -- while there are a few patterns that are appropriate for beginning knitters, the patterns are for the most part, challenging, and require a commitment to learning a new skill, stitch or sewing technique. Even your basic scarf is turned on its head, so to speak, with the addition of a bonnett. Instead of your traditional baby cardigan, you have a hooded cape. Not only are the patterns, such as the herringbone doctors bag, and 2 piece suit, for sophisticated knitters, they're designed for the serious fiber lover as well - the patterns feature all of my favorite yarns - Koigu, Blue Sky Alpaca, Noro -- I don't have the book in front of me, or I would go on. There's no skimping here. Often, I pick up a book, like a pattern, and immediately start thinking of a yarn substitution. Not the case with Knit 2 Together.

And, the text is reminiscent of, dare I say it, the Yarn Harlot, as we follow Tracy and her knitting/fiber obsession. Her stories are our stories - running out of yarn inches from completion of a pattern, pattern modification that has gone awry requiring pounding on your LYS's door at the crack of dawn, and well, stories that simply can't be ours - our personal driver shutting the door on our yarn, and driving away, dragging a project along the road with the studio car. Witty, down-to-earth, and to a certain extent inspiring - as a novice knitter breaks out, tries new things, and becomes a creative, adventurous knitter - this is a great addition to the modern knitting library.


Dorothy said...

It really is a pity that publishers think we are all so small minded that we need the weird sexual connotations just to buy a book. They could have marketed Not Tonight Darling to a younger audience in a very different way and had a book for all ages.

Knit 2 Together sounds interesting. I'll have to add it to my list of book to get someday. I really miss having a bookstore so go to and look through all these books instead of buying sight unseen from on-line.

AmyDe said...

Thanks for the info on the books. I am placing a book order for the shop I work in and am glad to know more about these two. I'll put them on our list right away.

buttercup said...

I had Knit 2 Together in my hands last weekend and put it down. I did flip through it and although the projects looks interesting, I thought it was just another celeb jumping on the knitting bandwagon. Thanks for taking the jump and for the review. I'll have to pick it up next time.

Carol said...

So glad you like the book (K2Tog)too! I'm totally jonesing for some Koigu Kersti for that shawl sweater. Have you ever used it?

Jennifer said...

Without anywhere better to put this, I was wondering where you got your project completness tickers. They are great!!! Sorry for posting out of spot!

Angie said...

I am new to your blog and podcast (LOVE.IT BTW) You mention getting a Palm for your knitting patterns. I am interested also, but am wondering which one you got. I had a Palm III, but it didn't work so very well with XP Professional, just. wondering.