I really like audiobooks. They help keep me occupied when I’m doing boring tasks like washing up or cooking. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Knitlandia by Clara Parkes. This is part knitting book, part autobiography and part travel guide. One thing I particularly like about the audio version is that it’s narrated by the author, which always adds an extra layer to a book like this.
Big American Shows
I’m pretty familiar with the British wool scene and have watched the American scene from afar on the internet for the last few years, so I found it really interesting to hear first hand what it is really like to go to Rhinebeck, Squam or Maryland Sheep and Wool. While I love seeing all the pretty pictures on Instagram and the wool people have bought, Clara manages to convey the atmosphere of each place.
It’s also fascinating to hear things from a teacher’s perspective, someone with behind the scenes access and an appreciation for the history of events and how they have developed over the years. I loved learning about the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival and how it has changed from a focus on local agriculture to the huge event it is today.
Behind the Scenes
As someone who likes to understand how things work, I found the chapter on Clara’s visit to Interweave and how that eventually lead to The Knitters Book of Yarn being published (not by Interweave) really interesting. If you’ve ever watched a Craftsy class, you’ll likely enjoy the chapter on how they are produced.
I find it hard to believe that Ravelry has only been going just over 10 years when you look at the impact that it, and other internet developments, have had on the knitting community. I found the chapters dealing with the early 2000s particularly interesting, as it seems like just yesterday but a lot has changed – some people who were big names in the knitting world have faded away, but some are still going strong.
While most of the focus is on travel within America, there are chapters dedicated to visits to Iceland, Paris and Edinburgh. I’ve been to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (although the year after Clara was there) and so I found that chapter particularly interesting as I could easily picture what she was describing. It’s always interesting to have an outsider’s perspective and hear her comparison to the large American shows.
Clara manages to find the humour in every situation, and this is particularly evident in the Iceland chapter. This is a country that has very different traditions to what both me and Clara are used to – one apparently being the requirement to strip and be thoroughly washed before being allowed to bathe in the hot springs.
I really enjoyed Knitlandia, and I particularly liked having it on audio. As each chapter is fairly self-contained, it didn’t matter that I was dipping in and out and I think the narration made it more engaging. It’s a great review of the knitting scene over the last ~15 years and I really like Clara’s style.
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