Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

"Do you knit?" I get this question a lot. Halloween offers the perfect opportunity for me to answer. Because yes, I do knit. Mostly, I knit for my daughter, Ada. And every Halloween, I knit at least some of her Halloween costume.

This year, obsessed with knights and horses and all things sharp and dangerous, Ada's chosen to be Joan of Arc. Naturally, I knit her some chain mail - stay tuned for a photo of the full-on costume, which she could not be induced to model for me yesterday.

In previous years, Ada's been a Kitty Cat Vampire Outlaw (with knit ear-balaclava and tail):

A mermaid (the coral necklace was crocheted; I actually delved into the dreaded sewing for this one):

A bouquet of flowers:

The Strawberry Flower Fairy:

And a beetle (more sewing, but also some knitted extra beetle legs):

Great art it ain't, but it's been a lot fun to create something new and (hopefully) just-right for Ada's costume every year. I dread the day when she no longer wants my help or my input!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Answers, answers, answers

I was asked some deliciously difficult questions by people who stopped by my book-signing table at Rhinebeck. Difficult, not because I didn't have any answers, but because I had too many. People who know me know, too, that I have a tendency to gush information. It's a clear indication that I am grappling with a preponderance of answers, which are fighting to make their way out of my mouth. This may be one reason I write; I can tackle answers in a logical,  non-gushing sort of way and present them on the page in an orderly fashion. On this virtual page over the next few weeks, I'll be presenting some questions and answers inspired by conversations I had with some of you at Sheep & Wool about my book, Knitting Around the World.

First, though, an answer that takes care of a small matter of business. Some of you wanted to know how I could sign copies of the book that you'd already purchased. Answer: email me your snail mail address and I will send out signed bookplates sometime in the next few weeks. And yes, of course, this goes for copies of Astounding Knits, Knitting Memories, and absolutely any other book I've ever written.

Now on to larger answers.

Fingering-weight wool mittens, of a design that's common in Finland. Photo by Tuulia Salmela

The above photo, which appears in KAW in the Finland chapter, is my jumping-off point for another answer. What, a super-smarty and engaging knitter wanted to know, were some of the threads that tied the book together? This was a terrific question, and after gushing at its asker for about 20 minutes, I proceeded to think about it for the whole rest of that day. And for many days to come.

One answer is the eight-pointed star that decorates the backs of these mittens. As most knitters know, it's a motif that turns up through the centuries in the knitting of many parts of the world. But for me, it's a symbol of the movement of people. How did the star get around Scandinavia, the Baltics, Russia, Scotland? There's no coincidence here. The star traveled with people - people who knit, or wore knitting, or both.  Fishermen, tradesmen and -women, migrant workers, conquerors, merchants. From this one simple design we can begin to intuit the whole history of knitting, which is really just another way to look at the history of people: how and where they've lived, what they've worn and why, how they've made money, how they've responded to social conditions both good and bad.

There are other answers, of course. And other questions. Stay tuned, and meanwhile, if you  have any questions of your own you'd like me to address, send word!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thank You Rhinebeck People!

I really felt the love yesterday. A huge thank you to all of you who stopped by to have me sign Knitting Around the World and Astounding Knits. It was so gratifying to meet so many of you in person and to be able to have real live conversations with actual live humans - when so much of my time is spent chained to my desk typing and muttering to myself.

I'm especially grateful to those of you who made it a point of your day to seek me out. To the bizarrely coincidental four Debbies and three Susans - in a row - who came over to buy KAW. To the two ladies from Sweden who returned hours after our first meeting, having decided they could fit heavy copies of KAW in their luggage after all. To the woman who dropped a  handful of tiny chocolate bars on my table when I was about to pass out somewhere around hour five. To the packs of kids who shrieked and chortled over the pages of AK. And to all the folks who bought neither KAW nor AK but wanted to let me know how much they'd enjoyed books I'd written in the past. It was just a great day and I look forward to seeing and hearing from you again soon.

Love, Lela

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rhinebeck, Here I Come

That distinctive chill in the air could only mean one thing: it's time for Sheep & Wool & the signing of books! These books, to be exact:

On Saturday, October 15, from about 10AM-5PM, I'll be sitting behind stacks of  KNITTING AROUND THE WORLD and ASTOUNDING KNITS, pen in hand, at the Merritt Bookstore booth in Building B. Whether ye be olde friend or new, tootle on over and say hello. I'll not only sign your books,  I'll even hand-correct any errata on the pages within (Icelandic goats, alas, have been misidentified as sheep in KAW, and AK's knitimationist Max Alexander as a he instead of a she).

Can't wait to see you all out there!