It’s My Party And I’ll Knit If I Want To

It's My Party And I'll Knit If I Want To!Some months ago I visited a knitting club—the sassily named Stitch ‘n Bitch—for a story I was working on. To my surprise, I loved the group so much that I upped needles and joined. I’m now the most novice of novice knitters, but am also one of the most proud.

Each week I have to ask for help to cast on and then cast off (were it left up to me, there would be dodgy knots at both ends) and I’ve succeeded in knitting wonky rectangles that aspire, if you squint a little and imagine a lot, to be scarves.

Depending on how you look at it, I’m an unlikely knitting convert candidate. On the one hand, I keep myself so busy working, playing sport, and reading that I couldn’t possibly slow down to fit in knitting (or shaft reading for it).

On the other, I’m perhaps the prime candidate: someone who needs the soothing, meditative quality of knitting, while still getting that sense of achievement of doing something with her hands and having something to show for it at the end (even if it is a dodgy rectangle that not even a mother would love).

Turns out knitting is undergoing something of a revival, with it no longer being the realm of nannas or cat-owning spinsters, but of educated, articulate, funky, young professionals. I’m reasonably late to the party and have been grappling with just what makes knitting so much fun and what’s bringing it out of the closet and into the pub. I’m not the only one. Sharon Aris arrived a little earlier and wrote a book covering such questions.

SnB Brisbane organiser Fiona Smith loaned me her copy of Aris’ It’s My Party And I’ll Knit If I Want To!, a light-hearted book that examines why the traditionally daggy knitting is the new cool. I’ll admit that a book pertaining to chart the history of knitting might well be considered as enthralling as watching paint dry, but Aris is a woman after my own heart. Her journey mirrors mine (ok, arguably mine mirrors hers, but semantics peoples)—a sort of cynic who is now a complete, utter, and unashamed knitting convert.

And the book is funny. As in witty, amusing, tongue-in-cheek. Aris has chapters that include such titles as ‘Knitting is the new yoga’ and ‘Knitting is the new feminism’, and starts sections with agony aunt-style questions such as ‘Should one share needles?’

Through reading the book and attending knit club, I’ve learned such terms as ‘yarn barf’ (when the middle of the ball of wool explodes outwards) and ‘UFOs’ (un-finished objects they started knitting but have now discarded for the latest project). In It’s My Party, Aris also examines knitting faux pas and meets a guy who’s knitting a sock for his nether regions for an upcoming planned sporting event streak. Alright, not quite rolling-in-the-aisles stuff, but still chuckle-worthy.

Of course, the irony is that taking up knitting hasn’t taken me away from books—it’s introduced me to ones I would otherwise never have known about, much less read. Now that I’ve devoured It’s My Party And I’ll Knit If I Want To!, I plan to improve my knitting sufficiently to be able to follow a pattern. Then I’ll buy up big on cute and quirky knitting books—of which, I’m suddenly discovering, there are many. Stay tuned.

Wild About Tea Cosies

Really Wild Tea Cosies‘Wild’ and ‘tea cosies’ aren’t exactly terms one would instinctively pair together, but not only does this irreverent pairing work, the book pairing them has been a runaway success. So successful, in fact, that Loani (pronounced Low-arni) Prior has just released her second book about knitted tea cosies. Its title? Really Wild Tea Cosies, of course.

I had the good fortune to hear Prior speak about her journey from quiet, unassuming home knitter to published author and ‘grand purl baa’ of tea cosy knitting (she puts it down to luck and sass to put her idea out there and to find an editor willing to take the chance), and I have to say that I was taken with just how self-deprecating and downright funny she is. I perhaps shouldn’t have been surprised given that her books include such designs as Carmen Miranda (yep, as is in a tea cosy covered with knitted fruitiness), green-eyed monsters, and court jester-style cosies, which come complete with tuckable, extendable, er, jester bits.

But what I was surprised by—and which would surprise most of us—is just how fondly tea cosies are regarded. Prior spoke of tea cosies that had been passed down through generations and which, while after all that time and use weren’t exactly the best looking, were far more than some wool around a pot—the tea cosies were imbued with love and treasured memories of family members and good times. Sure, she points to the fact that while women tend to use tea cosies for their intended purpose, men appear to have an inherent instinct to put tea cosies on their head. But it’s clear that the tea cosies bring joy to both sexes.

As a knitter with my training wheels on (I’ve recently joined my local Stitch ‘n Bitch group after being uber impressed by them when I visited for a story I was working on), the design skills and the knitting dexterity are something I can only at this stage aspire to. But the knitting instructions are concise and straightforward to follow and the images are both spectacular and inspiring for anyone who has mastered the not-actually-that-tricky-I’m-just-a-slow-learner knitting and purling. Part inspiration dip, part instruction manual, and part coffee table book, Really Wild Tea Cosies (and, indeed, its predecessor), is something special. Give me a week and I’ll be in the market for copies to beg, borrow, or—let’s face it—steal.