Book Nook: Slow Knitting: A Journey From Sheep to Skein to Stitch, by Hannah Thiessen

I picked up this book at the library because I couldn't find much about it online, and I was very intrigued by the idea of slow knitting.  What could Hannah Thiessen possibly mean by "slow knitting"?  Isn't knitting, and making your own clothes, already a pretty slow process? 


It seems, upon perusing the book, that her use of the term falls into the broader slow movement.  It's all about consuming less, consuming more thoughtfully, and being more focused and mindful.  By following these principles, one should a greater and deeper understanding of the craft of knitting and of the process by which yarn arises.

Well, that's really a lot of what I've been trying to follow in my daily life in the last year or so.  I can't say I'm 100% successful in slowing down, but I feel like I've managed to introduce slow-movement-like practices in many areas.  We've been gardening more so that we can better appreciate the food that we eat.  We've been shopping with more of an environmental consciousness, for clothes and food and more.  We try to reuse, make, and mend as much as I can, and we try to buy good quality so that things will last and not need to be thrown out so often.  So, a book about slow knitting fits perfectly into what I've been doing lately. 

Hannah Thiessen's books is split into five sections:  Source Carefully, Produce Thoughtfully, Think Environmentally, Experiment Fearlessly, and Explore Openly.  In each section, she ruminates on what the section title means to her, and she also give some practical tips to follow so that you can follow her practices as well.  She talks about specific yarns and yarn companies in each section, and there are two patterns per section, each by a different designer, showcasing one of the yarns she's profiled.    I really like the practical tips, which are set in sidebars and positioned as concrete steps you can actually take, and she writes very compellingly about why each part of her slow knitting philosophy is meaningful.  I understand featuring particular yarns and particular designers, but the book really starts to feel like an advertisement for yarn companies and dyers.  Even though she's writing about small or indie businesses, it starts to feel like you're reading a catalogue .

This isn't a book of knitting basics, though there's some discussion of less common techniques where they occur in patterns.  The patterns themselves aren't really the reason to buy the book, to me; they're decent patterns, and include a fair amount of detail, but there are only ten in the whole book, mostly sweaters.   It is really nice that each pattern is designed around the yarn, but they all call for yarns that might not be that easy to obtain, especially if you don't live in the USA, and because the design process is so specific for the yarn, substitution seems to miss the point.  No, you should get this book if you're interested in the ideas about slow knitting, about treasuring the whole process of choosing a yarn (and a yarn producer), choosing a pattern, and knitting and finishing a garment.  The photography is gorgeous and really reflects the idea of respecting and appreciating yarn and handmade objects. 

You can also visit Hannah Thiessen's website.

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