A Knitter’s Home Companion by Michelle Edwards

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.

30 comments

  1. Hi: Thanks for your review of this – it is sitting in my Amazon recommendations list and your review has moved it up. I really enjoy people’s books that are memoirs about doing things we enjoy: knitting, dogs, gardening, reading… These activities are an important part of what make my life worth living and definitely something to look forward to and back upon over time, Kathy aka Ruby http://yearofreadingmybooks.wordpress.com/

    1. It really is a lovely book, Kathy – you wouldn’t regret buying it, I’m sure, from your description of what you’d be looking for. I hope you get some time to take a look at it soon.

  2. You never stop, do you, Rachel? You just… never… stop! How can you describe (beautifully, as always) a book that is SO the kind of thing I love and not expect me to leap over to amazon? Luckily it was going quite cheaply and a copy should reach me within the next few days. Just in time for the weekend! (Happy sigh…)

  3. Welcome home Rachel, and yes thanks for another purchase I will have to make!! Your energy and enthusiasm is great! Jenny

  4. Rachel, you have done it again, tugged at my heartstrings and tempted me with this little jewel of a post. I may have to behave and request it from the library or put in my wish list for Christmas . . . or, I may just have to be bad and buy it. Either way, I’l sure I will be as delighted as you with this book.

  5. Rachel, your words and the beautiful way of expressing your love for this book and all it contains has me once again going straight over to ebay as well as awesomebooks.com to look for a copy of this beautiful sounding book. I’m a crafter myself (I paint onto wood, slate and glass), and so I found myself nodding my head, smiling, in complete agreement with you while reading about your love of all things handmade and hand crafted too.. Although once upon a time I used to knit and do a bit of crocheting. crewel work and embroidery (my grandmother and the Girl Souts both helped me with the basics), for one reason or another, much to my eternal regret, I haven’t gone back to those beautiful, wonderful fabric crafts in many, many years. Too many years.
    But I think that this book, however, will beautifully ease me back into and reunite me with a craft I really used to enjoy doing. Fingers crossed I find this book soon, so I can get stuck back into somethig I’ve long wanted thought about returning to..

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on what sounds like a wonderful treasure of a book, Rachel. And welcome home, by the way. It sounds like you’re settling back in just beautifully, and that, in addition to reading about this book, brought a big smile to my face.

    1. Oh, thank you June! You are too lovely! I’m glad you love the sound of this – I’m certain you would really enjoy it. And It’s never too late to get back into crafting – why not go for it?

      I hope you can find a copy to enjoy soon – and thank you for being so sweet. I am glad to be home indeed! x

  6. Excellent review. I can’t figure out why a publisher in need of someone to do promotional material hasn’t snapped you up!🙂

  7. Oh I love books with essays! Sometimes you want to immerse yourself in something like crafting or cooking without the feeling of failure that you don’t have time that very minute to start a project or whip out some pans. I checked my library catalogue and we don’t have a copy of this on order so I will be submitting a “request to purchase” form when I get back from holiday. And that cover art is absolutely adorable!

    1. Me too! Yes, this is what I love about this book – it’s not about perfection or complication, it’s about enjoying yourself and doing things for the love of it. I love that you can do that – get that form in! I know you would enjoy it immensely! Isn’t it? Michelle Edwards is actually an illustrator by trade and she drew it herself!

  8. What a lovely post. It reminds me so much of my mum and I. Who share all the crafts we seem to do. Her strengths are different to mine, but she taught me so much and never let me sit idle when I was small so my hands always had to do something. Knitting, sewing, patchwork whatever the in thing was we still came back to the basics.

    And now every year we got the annual Knitting and Stitching show together on a coach trip, and look at the new things that are out and the stuff we can buy and try together. I know if I spot something on a website, I will email her the link and she will do the same. When I asked her to get me some brown felt when she was next in Hobbycraft, she had bought me varying colours and some other things as well. I know that if I do not have fabric glue that my mum will, and so it goes on.

    Reading your post has brought home the fact that it is not all about glitz and glamour and being out every night, it is about being with the people you love (and that love you) and sharing something that whatever happens you will always have. Even if it is getting your mum to help you with your knitting when you are over 30!

    This is a book I am going to look out for. *Blush* I seem to have gone on a bit, apologies.

    1. Don’t apologise, Jo – that was a lovely comment and I so enjoyed reading it! How lovely that you and your mum have always shared a love of crafts and that your mum encouraged you from a young age – that seems to be rare to find these days. I think it’s wonderful that you can enjoy your hobby together and learn from each other.

      I hope you and your mum can share this book together!

  9. Sounds beautiful – I want this! Library doesn’t seem to have a copy so onto the amazon wish list it goes.

    Welcome back Rachel, I hope the new job is going well x

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