What does it mean to slow down and Make in a thoughtful manner....?

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Inspiration: books

I have often said that there were two things that greatly influenced my knitting life- one was the discovery, pretty early on in it's existence, of Ravelry, and the second was the books of Elizabeth Zimmerman. Prior to those two influences my knitting was a rather frustrating experience with much time spent making garments that rarely fit. Then I discovered Elizabeth Zimmerman with her seamless knitting and her pragmatic attitude and something clicked in my head. I was liberated and emboldened to "knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises".  A couple of years later, one day while poking around on the interwebs, I found Ravelry. Oh my.  To be able to see all these projects I was considering, knit up by others, with their notes and advice? What a bonanza! I have never looked back, and my knitting was never the same.

These are two very different forms of inspiration, one analog and one digital. To my mind they are equally important, and at A Gathering of Stitches we will celebrate and work with both. For the moment however, I would like to talk about the world of books and their impact. There will be a library at A Gathering of Stitches that will include books on all the mediums we teach and support: sewing; knitting; quilting; crochet; dyeing; screen printing and embroidery.  We have already started to build this library, having bought the collection of one woman who was obsessed with garment making. But in the next two months we hope to expand our holdings greatly. There is a wall in the new space that will be dedicated to the library.  I hope that it doesn't get filled too quickly, but when it does we will build more shelves.  These books will be available to peruse, to read (on site) and to inspire us all. We sincerely hope that you will take advantage of this time-honored method of research and discovery through the world of text and images on paper.

I am obviously partial to the printed word, being a partner at Rabelais, but I have always turned to books to learn. When I first discovered Elizabeth Zimmerman it was in her book The Opinionated Knitter, which was published posthumously (it was so disappointing that I discovered her after her passing in '99). I read the book cover to cover and immediately sought out, and bought, all of her other titles. Here was a voice for sanity and confidence in knitting. Here were patterns that were intelligent and clever, that kept the knitters mind engaged, as well as their hands. Here was an encouraging voice at your elbow urging you to knit on.  I was smitten. I swear by those books, they have a prominent place on my bookshelf.  I pull them out to re-read them often. Truly. Those books are my good friends. We will have all of the Elizabeth Zimmerman titles at A Gathering of Stitches. 

In the world of sewing I have similar books that I turn to over and over. The good old Vogue Sewing Book that I bought back in the 80's is endlessly useful for techniques and tips. A more modern title I admire (and use) is The Sewing Bible by Ruth Singer. She taught me to make my own continuous bias binding. Oh how proud I was when I figured that one out!  These titles will also be on the shelves at A Gathering of Stitches. As well as books on dyeing and embroidery, crochet, screen printing and quilting, and more.  There will be instructional books as well as inspirational books. The Quilts of Gee's Bend is an amazing record of some breathtaking quilts. To sit down with a good book is to travel to another world and see, and learn, new skills, new ideas, new visions.

The library at A Gathering of Stitches will be more one more instrument for the fiber and textile community to use. Another tool in your arsenal. 


note: I apologise that the titles above are not links to Amazon, I just cannot stomach what they have done to the world of books so I will not endorse their biz by linking to them. You are free to find these books anywhere you can, I would encourage you to ask your local book store to order them for you (if they don't already stock them). Buy local, small is better.