Waifs down a mossy path: Dries Van Noten’s clothes for next spring.

The Business

Dear Ann,
Fall is Knitting Book Season. New knitting books are coming out fast and furious. People may not be familiar with the Mason-Dixon Knitting Editorial Policy on Book Reviews. These unfamiliar people may include you and me. But what I’ve gathered, from our 8 years plus of blogging, is that we generally talk mainly about things we like.
Which doesn’t mean that we are easy to please. In fact, I think we’re kind of hard to please. But we tend to dedicate this space to celebrating the things that give us joy and kicks and other positive feelings. We reserve for Twitter the razor-sharp kvetching that is its own guilty pleasure. (I’m going to go ahead and call this practice “twetching”; I do apologize.) (Recently, we twetched pretty harshly on Martha Stewart’s new line of yarn, with particular twee-hemence for the eyelash yarn, which we felt was Very Wrong. Martha! We love you! We can help! Call us!)
clarabook.jpg
But back to Things We Love. This morning I received an advance copy of Clara Parkes’ latest book, The Knitter’s Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover’s Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime. I sat right down and read the first 55 pages, in which Clara explains how yarn–its fiber characteristics, how it is spun, how the yarn is structured, and how it is knitted up–affects the comfort, fit and durability of handknit socks. I did this despite my own complete lack of interest in knitting socks. I did it in part out of curiosity about why I am so dang hard on the gorgeous handknit socks I’ve received as gifts over the years (the answer: NYC streets, snug loafers, and CASHMERE). But I did it mostly because Clara is to knitting what Ken Burns is to chapters of American history you didn’t know you were interested in until he made a documentary about them. She has a way of explaining things that in other hands, could be obscure or dry, with utter clarity and a light touch. It’s a pleasure to read her, on any topic.
Clara Parkes is the business. My advice: you want the first edition of anything she writes. You want to collect the set. You want her to keep enlightening us on subjects we understand only partially or vaguely. You want The Knitter’s Book of Potty Training Small Terriers, The Knitter’s Book of Jams and Jellies, The Knitter’s Book of Husbands, and The Knitter’s Book of Investing for Retirement. There is no end of subject matter that would benefit from Clara’s serious study and clear, friendly explication. (The problem with some husbands, I’m guessing, is “elasticity.” You want to look for a husband with no more than 10-15 percent bast fibers.)
clarabooksock.jpg
The sock patterns look awesome, too.
Love,
Kay

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Wow! I didn’t know this book existed, or would soon exist. I don’t knit socks much right now, but I would get this just because of how good her first two books are.
    Also, I’m not on Twitter, so I didn’t get to read your comments on the MS yarn, but I was very surprised (not in a good way) by the eyelash yarn. Martha, really?

  2. Thanks for the PSA on the new book! Clara is awesome and it sounds like another hit.
    Another source for eyelash yarn — quelle horreur . . .

  3. I’m not on twitter, so missed your “twetches” but they sound very interesting.
    Also wanted to thank you for your early heads up on Missoni for Target, I managed to log on very early and spend too much on swag!

  4. I am so relieved to read your opinion about the new Martha Stewart eyelash yarn. I was afraid it was just me.

  5. If I knit those socks, will my legs look like that?

  6. Love twetching. And I know I will love this book.

  7. I had to go look up was bast fibers are… I think we’re okay on that score. Phew.

  8. Oooh, this does look like a lovely book. I must own about 5 (probably a small # compared to most knit-bloggers) sock pattern books and still I just keep doing my 2 by 2 ribbed regular sock every time. I look through my sock books regularly too. I just keep going back to whatever I’ll be able to do without carrying the book around with me. And maybe I’m boring.
    I haven’t seen any pics of Olive lately… I miss her sweet face!

  9. I would think that most husbands are elastic given sufficient quantities of quality home cooking. Thanksgiving is a key day in measuring the elasticity of your husband. If they wear eating pants with an elastic waistband, check for differences in size and shape of the band after the day is over in order to calculate your husband’s elasticity.

  10. Twetching? Not kveeting?
    Fabulous review and I think I would read Clara on any subject.

  11. I’m so jealous that you got this already! I’ve been waiting for this book for months and can’t wait to buy it at Rhinebeck and have Clara Parkes sign it!

  12. I need the knitters’ guide to complementary fashions.

  13. Wow
    I love Clara Parks books. There are two sitting on my bookshelf right now, see, right there!
    I personally think Martha sold her name and got lots of money, and as soon as she sees the eyelash yarn, she is going to have a major hissy fit.
    But mostly I love the way you ladies write. The analogy to Ken Burns was great. Oh, and yes, I am a sock knitter, and I want the book!

  14. Didja ever think you’d hear the words “Martha Stewart” and “Glitter Eyelash” in the same sentence? Oy vey.

  15. gosh, i love Clara’s writing too. i wonder how different this one is from the Knitter’s Book of Wool.

  16. I’m coming out of lurkdom to agree that Clara Parkes is a wonder. She is writing a collection of Desert Island Books for knitters, what could be better! It’s entirely possible to enjoy her work without a bit of prior interest in sock knitting, or in making something wearable in alpaca, or in learning about rare sheep breeds. The pleasure of reading her work is in her remarkable knowledge of fiber, her enthusiasm for her subject, the lucidity of her writing. So glad another book is on it’s way. More more more!!

  17. the knitters book of how to get along
    with your mother in law in five easy stiches
    thank you for shareing did you ever think
    that the blog would make you all so famous

  18. Oh, that looks yummy. Love sock books even though I really only like to knit fairly plain ones out of pretty yarn. You all do know that there’s a new edition of the Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt coming out? I treasure my copy found sans dustjacket for $17 at Atlanta used book emporium about 10 years ago …

  19. Knitter’s Book of Husbands! HA! Love it.

  20. You were trying to break it to us gently: it is GLITTER eyelash. This must be a deal where Martha is far removed from the work. She must have sent the neighbor’s 5 year old girl to deal with the contract. AT the last minute, someone realized the collection couldn’t be entirely composed of shades of pink glitter eyelash.
    How can you have 100% wool and a cotton/hemp in the same collection as glitter eyelash??
    isn’t it rather extreme to mention glitter eyelash in a post about a Clara Parkes’ book, after all she has taught us about actual fiber?
    My overloaded bookshelf and I wish you hadn’t found another good book!

  21. dont tweet either, but lol , little book of small terriers!

  22. I wonder when the Book on Husbands is coming out.
    Perhaps the eyelash yarn was a leftover from 2000?

  23. the Long Island Knitting and Crochet Guild had a guy from Lion Brand at the last meeting. He was pushing the Martha yarns. Best comment of the night was one young knitter who told him “Martha’s yarns say ‘craft’ right on the label. My knitting isn’t a craft. I won’t buy it.”
    Nuff said.

  24. I’m newly addicted to sock knitting. Can’t wait to find this book. Thanks for telling us about it.

  25. They’re just so dense, these books, and I mean that as the highest compliment. You open one of Clara’s books, and you enter a whole world. If anybody needed an example of why printed books are still relevant, these make the case so well. Clara’s books are an experience, and that’s why I love them. And her. And also socks.

  26. Why I love you:
    No other knitting blog or website makes me laugh out loud. Thank you!
    I think “twitching” is also apropos of tweeted complaints, and “knitching” is good for complaints by knitters. Note: To get them house-broken, I had to threaten to knit my two small terriers into cozy but less entitled garments.

  27. I don’t have the sock love either (although, I love it when OTHERS share their sock love with me), but I do have the Clara love! She’s a master!

  28. I can’t wait for more of Clara’s wisdom.
    Thanks for some highlights of what to expect!

  29. Give Martha a break. That eyelash yarn makes a lovely Christmas tree (using the Mason-Dixon outside the lines pattern of course). It’s even better if you take one strand of wool and one of eyelash and then felt like crazy. And you need something to give the Alan Dart gnomes their beards.

  30. Whenever I can’t find anything interesting on TV (which has been all of this long, hot, hot, summer), I go to my Netflix Instant Queue for entertainment while knitting. Ken Burns’ America and I have spent many hours together recently. (I could have told those Shakers that celibacy was a bad idea for the longevity of their group. What were they thinking?)
    I’m not a sock knitter, either, because I’m not a sock wearer. I’m a PP (Pantyhose Person) myself. But, that doesn’t keep me from buying way too much beautiful sock yarn. (No law says you have to knit socks out of sock yarn.) I shall await the release of Clara’s sock book, because no law says you have to knit socks if you purchase a sock book.
    Mary G. in Texas

  31. “…we tend to dedicate this space to celebrating the things that give us joy and kicks and other positive feelings.”
    Yes! What a simple idea, but what a force for good! Would that more public sharing was done with your grace and humor.

  32. Promise me you’ll send a personal 5-alarm alert if “The Knitter’s Book of Potty Training Small Terriers” is published…that’s one title I could really, really use for my hard-headed Silky Terrier!

  33. Oh, and BTW…I saw the new Martha Stewart line at the Lion Brand store in NYC this week…I was just as perplexed as you by the eyelash stuff…it was right in the front door…huge display. Eyelash. Really, Martha?

  34. And here I thought this was just a long (but entertaining! always entertaining!) way of introducing the next Mason-Dixon Knitting book giveaway! Alas, no. You’re keeping this one for yourself, eh?

  35. I totally agree:I bought “The Knitter’s Book of Wool” for the patterns and ended up enjoyng every detail about every sheep thoroughly – and proceeded to order “The Knitters’ Book of Yarn”. I hope Clara Parker writes many more books!

  36. Whaaaaat? No free book giveaway???? epic fail.

  37. A new book by Clara? Got to have it. Her previous two are among the few items in the house that never really get “put away.”

  38. Kay (and Ann, too) you are SOOO right SOOO much of the time that it downright frightens me! Are you and I distant clones, kind of like distant cousins? I love Ms. Clara! I am so envious that you already have her newest book in your lovely hands. Mine is on order and I’m twitching, as opposed to twetching, with excitement to read each and every page.
    With so much good stuff out there in the fiber world, tell me this: why do people focus on the not-so-pretty stuff? Oh Martha, Martha, Martha.

  39. Thanks for the heads-up on what looks like a great book.
    You can’t twetch enough about Martha and that awful yarn. I ADORE Martha – loved her back since the 2 PBS specials way before she was famous. I have autographed books from her when I went to K-Mart and there were 4 people on line (she wasn’t always famous!)for a book signing. LOVE HER.
    However – this slapping her name on a multitude of non-Martha-esque products is diluting her brand IMO. She’s like these actresses who slap their names on every sunglass, shoe and purse – even though they have no design experience (I’m talking to you J-Lo and that blonde once married to Nick Lahey).
    Remember the days of “Martha By Mail”? Where all the products were something of Martha quality? Of Martha pretense? I still have a pie carrier, a pansy ring, copper cookie cutters and plastic molds in the shape of acorns for making butter patties. YES. Acorn shaped butter patties. THAT is the Martha I love.
    Novelty yarn? Not happening.

  40. Dear Kay,
    After so many years of the totally enriching experience called Mason-Dixon Knitting, “these unfamiliar people” could never include you and Ann! Youens iz like fambly!
    LoveDiane

  41. I love this review, I love what Clara writes, and I’m tickled that you think the sock patterns look awesome, too. Please come to the bookstore one Saturday so I can give you a big hug.

  42. youze guys haz me laughing SO HARD! Not only is the post spot on, the comments are hilarious!

  43. OMG – I really was laughing out loud!! And I so agree with you about Martha’s yarn…
    But seriously — I am on a knitting-book diet (mostly because I can’t stick to a yarn diet) but I am definitely breaking it for this one!

  44. you know, JOHNFALCONE is full of hops. which I believe is a plant based fiber. I just typed ‘basted’ there — should have left it, he is basted in hops!

  45. Just recommenting to agree with Stephanie that Martha By Mail was one of life’s most fulfilling mailbox moments.

  46. “You want to look for a husband with no more than 10-15 percent bast fibers.” I wish I *ever* came up with a line so true and so funny!

  47. Just when I was feeling smug that here is a Clara Parkes book I WON’T have to get….Yeah. Just when I was feeling smug… Thanks, Kay.

  48. Your list of future knitter’s guides made me laugh! I see potential here for a contest: The best suggestion for a Knitter’s Guide to a topic that has nothing whatsoever to do with wool or yarn. The Knitter’s Guide to Mid-life Crises. The Knitter’s Guide to Cooking With Squash. The possibilities are endless.

  49. “The Knitter’s Guide to Cooking Squash AND Mid-life Crises?”

  50. I really need “The Knitter’s Guide to Husbands” as mine is anti-knitting. When does it come out?
    “The Knitter’s Book of Investing for Retirement” – isn’t that what STASH is all about?