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Authors and Librarians who craft

There are librarians and authors at conferences who sew. Before ALA Midwinter I read an interview of one of my favorite local Nashville authors – Tracy Barrett on DestiKNITions: The First-Ever Edition of Authors Who Knit. I followed the conversation on Midsouth_Authors of “Authors, Fiber Arts and PBs”.

Tracy Barrett had mentioned her favorite store was the Haus of Yarn so I researched it on the web in the car while Ken drove us to ALA Midwinter. I looked up and saw the exit for “White Bridge Road” and screamed, exit here. Then we made a quick sidetrip so I could tour the store and ask questions of the owners. I had no idea that several Nashville schools have knitting clubs beginning with fingerknitting in grades PreK-1 and true knitting in second grade. This is something I need to explore more. I loved the store and was amazed at the quality of yarns available.

I also found  one title remaining in the store of Freddie’s Blanket. I can’t wait for a child to gift this. The author has also written Phoebe’s Sweater. Each title includes the patterns and is meant to be treasured. The owners suggested several other titles they have available and were willing to ship yarn anywhere.

The publisher’s description of Freddie’s Blanket reads: This beautifully illustrated knitting picture book tells the story of Freddie, a young platypus, who has an important lesson to learn about growing up. Join Freddie and his family as he learns that his own big bed might just be the best place to sleep after all! This charming book includes a lovely set of photographs and knitting patterns from the illustrated story, including: Freddie’s Blanket, Freddie Platypus and his sister May, Freddie’s Coveralls, and a baby swaddling blanket. This book is an heirloom gift for any child, especially one who is special in the life of a knitter.

Thanks to the posters on the Midsouth Authors Yahoo Group, I gained other title suggestions:

Irene Latham’s Leaving Gee’s Bend is about a little girl who is sewing a quilt. She collects pieces for it throughout the story, so that the quilt represents herself. When it’s finished, Irene gives it to her mother.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is about a little girl who uses a box with a large amount of yarn to cheer up her neighborhood.

While I was at ALA Midwinter, I discovered everyday at 3p.m. the Networking Uncommons hosted a crafts session. Sunday’s focused on yarn crafts like knitting and crocheting. I spoke to every librarian I saw knitting and crocheting during committee meetings, programs, and council sessions to tell them about these sessions. I can still recall the first time I sat beside Nann Blaine Hilyard during meetings while she sewed. I was even brave enough to take out my crochet during council and was able to listen better than ever as my hands were busy and I could focus.

I’m curious how many of you enjoy sewing during meetings. Tracy Barrett mentions feeling ashamed of her love of knitting and sewing during her childhood in an email and allowed me to quote her below:

I saw a series of picture books at the knit shop I use in Nashville (Haus of Yarn) where a knitting project is part of the plot, and instructions for the project are at the end of the book. It looked like a fun way to get kids into it–although I’ve often found kids so intrigued by knitting that I don’t think it would be hard to get them interested. They come up to me at airports and other places and ask me what I’m doing and often want to try!

It infuriates me how often it’s assumed that the only way a girl can be an interesting character is if she rejects all the traditional female activities–activities that were crucial for survival, but since they were done primarily by women, were (and still are) disparaged. I was quite a tomboy who felt ashamed of my love of knitting and sewing (and cooking).

When it’s relevant, I always make sure that my female protagonists are good at and proud of their skill in embroidery (Anna of Byzantium), spinning (Dark of the Moon), or weaving (King of Ithaka–sidekick, not main character). Someday I’m going to write a book about a boy who says, “I don’t want to be a knight–I want to weave!”