I’m only Ten Years Late

Stitch ‘n bitch: the knitter’s handbook, by Debbie Stoller, was published in 2003, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it over. (It only looks like I’m eleven years late. I actually did this last year, but I kept putting off writing about it.)

I have reasons for taking this long. They may not be good reasons, but I have them! The book is part of Debbie Stoller’s mission to let people know that knitting is cool. Well, you know . . . I learned how to knit in the late ’70s, when I was nine years old. I thought it was neat, and fun, and if people didn’t think I was weird because I knit, they thought I was weird for other reasons. In other words, the coolness factor wasn’t an issue for me. Plus, by the time Stitch ‘n bitch came out, I was really tired of hearing that Julia Roberts could be found knitting between takes on movie sets. I did not think this book was for me.

But, my mom got a copy for herself at some point. After she died, I took it home, and eventually I decided that as long as I had it, I might as well give it a look.

Surprise! I liked it. I enjoyed reading about Debbie Stoller’s knitting history. The story about her grandmother on her death bed was incredibly moving. The evolution of her feelings about knitting and feminism is refreshing.

All those people who looked down on knitting—and housework, and housewives—were not being feminist at all. In fact, they were being anti-feminist, since they seemed to think that only those things that men did, or had done, were worthwhile. . . . Why couldn’t we all—women and men alike—take the same kind of pride in the work our mothers had always done as we did in the work of our fathers?

Yeah, there’s a page full of famous people who knit in the book, and Julia Roberts is on it. It’s easy enough to skip right past that, though. (I have nothing against Julia Roberts. She’s just the one celebrity I remember being trotted out when someone needed to talk about stars with sticks.)

SnB, as it’s often abbreviated, is a book for beginners. It explains just about everything a beginning knitter needs to know to make a simple project, from how to pick supplies to binding off. I even learned something (how to wind a center-pull ball by hand), and I’m not a beginner. It’s hard to say — since I’m not a beginner — but the instructions look good to me: easy to understand without making you feel like a pre-schooler, and they have good illustrations.

There are also 40 patterns, to make good use of those newly learned techniques. And they don’t shy away from the “tough stuff,” like intarsia and Fair Isle colorwork. They do seem a little more geared towards the cool kids, but don’t let that stop you from looking. I haven’t made anything from the book yet, but I’ve been eyeing the Big Sack Sweater and the Sparkle Hat (what can I say, it speaks to my inner ’80s-era Cyndi Lauper), and wondering when I can fit them into my schedule.


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