This beautiful little book was sent to me by its lovely author Michelle, and I was absolutely thrilled when she emailed and asked if I’d like a copy, as I had been drooling over it in Barnes and Noble not five hours beforehand! As you may know, I love quilting, knitting, sewing and crafts in general, even if I do approach them with far more enthusiasm than I do skill, and I am in awe of those lucky, gifted people who can conjure up beautiful objects with wool and fabric in seemingly the blink of an eye. Most of the time I can’t bear to look at craft books because they just contain patterns and photographs of things I can never even imagine being able to make myself, but what makes Michelle’s book different is that it is so much more than a how-to manual; in fact, it’s not really about how to knit at all.
Instead, it is a collection of beautiful, heartwarming essays on how her love of knitting has shaped her life. From wrapping her children up in knitted love to hours spent in companionship with like-minded knitters around kitchen tables, Michelle reflects on how the act of making, and the thoughts behind it, has actually knitted her an approach to life as well as objects that have marked her progress through it. Domestic crafts are often dismissed as nothing but feminine hobbies, something decorative to pass the time, but Michelle puts forward the excellent argument that they are actually the bedrock of family life, creating an environment rich with warmth, love, and tactile memories that will last a lifetime. Passing those skills on from grandmother to grandchild and mother to daughter creates a chain of love and memory that truly does knit lives together, and I was actually very moved by Michelle’s personal stories of how something as simple as knitting a blanket can carry a weight of meaning that will last for generations.
Interspersed within these essays are knitting patterns, book recommendations and recipes (far easier to follow for the likes of me!) that tie in with the stories Michelle tells in her essays. They echo the themes of family, friendship and community woven throughout this lovely volume that is a gentle, insightful and thoughtful reminder of the truly important things in life. My year in New York has certainly taught me that no matter how spectacular the city you live in, no matter how high flying your career, and no matter how much money you have in your bank account, happiness and contentment will continue to elude you unless you have the love, support and companionship of family and close friends. I have loved this experience of living the career girl life in the most busy, glamorous and exciting of cities this earth has to offer, but ultimately the most important things I will be taking away from New York with me will be the wonderful friends I have made, and a greater appreciation for the family and friends I left behind. Without them, New York would have been nothing but dust and ashes.
I found out that I don’t need the bright lights of the big city to make me happy, or fulfilled; when it comes down to it, happiness for me lies in a night in with the girls, or a day out shopping with my mum, or a sleepover with my nephews, and waking up to them giggling in my ear at 5am. My happiest memories of New York are not of the rooftop bars and the fancy meals, but of when my parents came to visit and I got to show them the sights of my new city, and when my friends and I spent Christmas together in a little log cabin, spending hours chatting around the fire. Life is not about all of the material and status obsessed rubbish we stuff it with nowadays; it’s about the relationships we have with other people, sharing love, support, memories, companionship, and laughter. It’s about the fact that whenever I come home, without even asking, my mum has spent hours cooking my favourite dinner. It’s about receiving a card in the post handmade by my nephew (with a little help from his mummy). It’s about my friends, when I left for New York, coming together to give me gifts that would remind me of them while I was gone. It’s the glass of wine my friend has ready for me when I’ve come round to cry on her shoulder after a tough day at work. It’s about the little selfless acts of love we do for those we care about; those are the things we treasure, and that we will always remember. Not the expensive cocktails or the glitzy parties, but the things that truly touched our heart. This is what this book celebrates, and whether you’re a knitter or not, I encourage you to pick it up and let it remind you of what’s important in your life, too.