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Curating sewing and quilting talent, techniques, and tutorials, since 1997.

Book Review: 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters - A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn and Life - by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza

Who doesn't love books, books and more books?  Of course, there are some strange individuals who don't, but other than teenage boys with too much energy to be still enough to read (!!), I don't know any. If you are like me you have lots of books on your shelves and are always seeing more that look too good to miss out on.  With this in mind I have decided to do some reviewing of craft books to give you at least one book junkie's insight into whether or not a particular book is for you.  As I am a quilter and knitter I am primarily interested books on these topics and will only review books I have in my hand and not that I have only seen on a computer.  Of course, some books cross over into many different types of crafts so I will be looking at these as well.

I have provided a link to The Book Depository - an online book seller based in the United Kingdom. I have chosen to support them for a few reasons. First and foremost - other than the occasional purchase from my lovely local patchwork shop, Ballarat Patchwork, I buy all my books from them and wouldn't feel comfortable recommending somewhere I wouldn't buy from myself.  Secondly, they are very efficient in both their ability to supply and the speed of their mailing service. Thirdly, and importantly, postage to anywhere in the world is FREE. More money for spending on crafting supplies and more books!!! (and no, that doesn't mean their books are more expensive to cover the postage cost - just in case you were thinking that!)

So, onto the book reviews.  Today I have chosen the following book to get the ball rolling:


10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters - A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn and Life

Authors - Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza


I absolutely love this book! I first looked into it because of its title - to me knitting is my relaxation activity, the rhythmic click clack of the needles lulling and soothing. Therefore, I consider myself a "LaidBack" knitter and was interested in ten secrets!!  Since I am not really a cupboard hippie (borrowing the phrase of a good friend) the holistic part almost put me off but I decided to plunge ahead.  As it turns out a great decision.

This book is a treasure trove of great information written in a humorous, entertaining and easily understood way.  It contains interviews with 'yarnies' of various backgrounds from a truly inspiring veteran of 70+ years of age to truly contemporary designers whose work would definitely be considered 'art'. The authors, Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza, have assembled a wonderful assortment of talents who support their ten secrets and demonstrate the philosphy behind each one.

 In addition, many websites for all things yarnie are given including charitable organisations to whom you can donate finished items and make a difference. Little historical tidbits are given, such as why we are 'throwers' (English) rather than 'pickers' (Continental) as knitters (very interesting to me because as a thrower of some speed it is my personal ambition to become a speedier picker!). Ever wanted to become your own pattern designer? You will find links to good pattern generators and links to sites supplying free patterns. Very generous inclusions since this book includes its own patterns.  However, taking the spirit of knitting as a 'holistic and sharing' community to heart seems to be an important part of the approach that has been taken in the writing of this book.

The included patterns cover the usual range from beginner to advanced and include a variety of projects such as socks, shawls, sweaters, beanies, cardigans, bags, mittens, skirts and toys.  Some patterns are for adults, some for children, some will take only a little time while others will definitely be a labour of love!  Interestingly none of the designs are written by the authors themselves.  Spinners and crocheters have not been left out. Twenty one designers have contributed patterns, some of whom are well known names to those in the knitting know - Tom Clark, Norah Gaughan, Queenie Sisters, just to name a few.  Each of the designs supports a 'Secret' and is given a rating so you don't get in over your head after you have purchased the yarn!



These are just a few of the twenty one designs in the book.

The photography is terrific with great shots showing close ups of all the interesting and necessary bits. There are many 'people' photos as well to support the stories on designers and themes.  In the 'yarn' section be prepared for the yarn providers to take centre stage - no not the local yarn shop but the actual animal providers!

In conclusion, I can only say that this is one of the best books on knitting I have ever owned.  Are there better pattern books around?  Probably.  However, if you are interested in knitting and yarn crafts as a part of your life enhancing experience then this book is a must.  It provides more than patterns, it provides a connection to the larger knitting community through its stories, personalities, information and humour.  In the words of the Authors - "10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters" gives knitters permission to relax and have fun with their knitting; to see that knitting is as much about process as product; and to know that the stitches they knit can express the inner joy they feel."
Until next time,  happy quilting, knitting, sewing, crafting!

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