My summer reading list is sadly devoid of much knitting content. We have very few good reads that tell a story or convey knitting-related narrative beyond "Cast on X stitches, work stockinette until piece measures Y." Those that do exist I've either read them or attempted to write them myself.
What joy, then, to discover this series of booklets being published by authors Donna Druchunas and Ava Coleman. Called Stories in Stitches, they are exactly that: collections of stories about people, places, and things that contribute to our collective lore.
Druchunas and Coleman, joined by a few other contributors, travel around the world, they talk with people, they share stories and forgotten bits of history, they dissect vintage knitted pieces and provide fresh new patterns. In short, they provide perfect summer reading material.
The Story So Far
The first Stories in Stitches (Volume 1) appeared in 2013. It featured, rather fittingly, Ava and Donna's own knitting stories, followed by that of a First Lady who was both a passionate knitter and Red Sox Fan, and then a trip through a market in Geneva. There are patterns, too, fabulous knitted counterpanes, a triangle shawl, pillowcase, and others.
Volume 2 gets meatier by 8 pages, bumping the folio to a satisfying 72 pages. The adventures take us to Oregon and California. We talk with Meg Swansen, we meet a little-known yet talented and prolific lace knitter Anna Marie Jensen, and we drool over exquisite doilies and shawls—all provided in pattern form too.
In Volume 3, which is hot off the presses, I get the sense that Druchunas and Coleman are hitting their stride. The content—with a World War I and II focus—is deep, varied, and consistently well-written. The approach is an artful blend of first-person narrative and historical research.
Druchunas sets out on a quest to find out about handknits made by the Jewish inhabitants of Lithuania. Rohn Strong shares a short story about a boy whose family is torn apart by war, and then shares patterns for a knitted airman and Women's Auxiliary Air Force doll. There's more from others, too.
Going for the Genre
Donna Druchunas and Ava Coleman are carving out a spot for themselves in the budding genre of narrative knitting nonfiction. Rather than continue to cobble together freelance assignments for others, they opted to build their own publishing platform.
In Stories in Stitches they have built a playground with room for growth and experimentation. If you like reading about knitting as much as knitting itself, you'll want to check out an issue.