Having recently enjoyed Ann Hood’s Knitting Yarns (2014), I was on the hunt for more knit-reads. Actually, when my hands aren’t on the needles, more than likely, my nose is in a book. This week’s nose-worthy reads:
1. In my quest for a starter sweater pattern, I’ve been feeling Kristina McGowan’s More modern top-down knitting. Inspired by Barbara G. Walker’s top-down technical work, the book has some really interesting top down spins on recent trends (top down yoga pants, hm). This is a “try-on-as-you-go” and often seamless knitting approach that sounds good to me (a beginner made anxious by the prospect of too-short sleeves). I would love to delve more into the theory of top-down garment work. My next step would be to go to the source and look up Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top (1996). Check out that cover!
2. I hope also to spend more time with Joanne Turney’s The Culture of knitting. A textile and design historian, Turney explores ‘knitting culture’ from a mostly cultural studies point of view. She tackles a lot of terrain, discussing the art and craft of knitting in relation to feminism, femininity/masculinity, identity, nostalgia, catharsis, narrative, politics and social movements, and the globalization of the garment industry. My only thought here is to ask why ‘culture’ is in the singular. Aren’t there multiple knitting cultures, or ways of engaging in knitting practices? This book deserves a good sit down – the kind of reading enhanced by ample cups of tea and positioning oneself by the window, slightly ajar, on a rainy day. I know so little about the wild world of knitting, and look forward to digging in.
3. In my quest to improve my colour work skills, I’m enjoying leafing through Nguyen Le’s Color Knitting with Confidence. The tagline reads “Unlock the Secrets of Fair Isle, Intarsia, and More.” Yes, please.
4. Finally, Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How artists work has been my bedtime read. The book is split up into dozens of short, 2-3 page vignettes, with details about the daily work routines of well-known composers, poets, novelists, painters, philosophers, and scientists. I’m struck by the sheer diversity of ways to live. But what the creators shared: they did not wait for the muse. Rather, they scheduled time to work, creating everyday opportunities for new ideas to flourish. Regularity, dedication, and dogged effort – in some biographies, to the point of self-imposed exile – filled in the blanks of capricious inspiration. Routinizing my work isn’t my forte, so I’m fascinated by those who can.
I also thought that Currey’s Daily Rituals could help artists along the way by including a quiz at the end, like the quizzes in teen magazines (“What your crush says about you,” “Who’s your One Direction match?” etc.). With the help of a few multiple choice questions, readers could do the quiz “Which Artist are You?” and maybe gain some insight into how to design a creativity-enhancing lifestyle. 😉 Habit-wise, I suspect I bear some kinship with Samuel Beckett, as described in the book: at his best in the afternoons, he liked scrambled eggs, red wine, and writing in his workroom “for as many hours as he could bear” (p.90).
Do you have a daily work routine? Things you must do to get into the zone? What practices allow your creativity to flourish?