Thank you so very much for the condolences, comments, and emails. Each one of them has truly been a comfort to me, and to my family. My mother read through each one and was moved by your kind words and thoughts.
Life has been a little different these past few days, but things have been going smoothly. Kris and I will travel to Tennessee tomorrow where Nana will be buried, beside my dear grandfather who passed away in 1991. On Tuesday, my mom and I wrote Nana's obituary, chose a lovely dress and silk scarf for her funeral outfit, and made arrangements for the funeral services. While it was sad, we were able to remember so many of the funny and sweet memories we had with Nana.
My Nana was a dignified southern lady, in the truest sense of the word. She raised two children, and later had five granddaughters. She taught us the importance of being a "lady" not just a woman, dressing for the occasion (she had an amazing collection of shoes!), and that politeness and a smile were always the way to go. I am so glad that she was able to meet Kris and get to know him before her mind started to deteriorate. She was even able to be a part of our wedding in 2002.
Nana and her girls - Winter 1996
The purpose for this post was two-fold. I wanted to talk a little more about my Nana, but I also wanted to tell you about an article that I recently read (thank you Heather for sending it my way!) that discusses a different kind of legacy and longevity. As an avid book lover, a librarian, and a knitter, I found this article so interesting, and I would love to know your thoughts on it too. The full-text is at Publisher's Weekly, (The End of Yarn?,28 August, 2006). I have pulled out a few excerpts that I thought were particularly interesting, and if you are so inclined, please let me know what you think. I may turn this into a school project!
In the hobbies and crafts category, knitting began to take hold about six years ago; no one knows why. But in a post-9/11 world, the activity has continued to increase in popularity. Publishers, of course, have responded with books and more books. But now comes the challenging part. Is knitting on the verge of becoming a widely established American hobby (like, say, gardening) or is it headed for the fate of philately? Although St. Martin's senior editor BJ Berti characterizes knitting as "the trend that refuses to die," not all the signs promise longevity.
Perhaps we are not the ideal market, very few of us in this online knitting community are "casual knitters". We are "lifers", having fallen head over heels in love with this craft and try to do a little bit each day! So, for us, knitting is not a passing fancy or a whim… but what about others? Could knitting become a ubiquitous hobby?
The norm in knitting these days is an edginess, a pushing of the traditional image of the needle-wielder.
Yes, I have noticed that "edginess" does get more attention on this scene, but I also look at the new fall trends by several of the big manufacturers and design houses: cables and colorwork galore! Many of the patterns hark back to traditional forms and designs. While a trendy knit is fun to bang out quickly and wear a few times (remember ponchos?), true longevity is in the classic forms: the simple stockinette pullover, the lace shawl, the cabled scarf.
The problem with catering to young people who rush to the latest trendy subject is that the audience moves along to the next fad (crocheting, felting, spinning and beading are contenders) just as quickly, although knitting seems to be a bit of an exception. The craft has a higher retention rate than many hobbies, says Craft Yarn Council of America executive director Mary Colucci, who claims the group's research shows that knitting is "addictive," and that newcomers stick with it for its soothing quality, a kind of knitter's high.
The knitting instruction and book market have been saturated with titles geared towards "tweens" and teenagers. Unfortunately,this age group is known for their short-attention span. Will knitting be just another fad? The other crafts mentioned are all closely related to knitting, and can easily be combined with it, so I would not consider a teenager who learned to knit, and then went on to spinning to be "out of the market" (indeed half of this knitting community are active spinners!)
In any case, it would behoove those who are staying put in the category to consider that beginners do not stay beginners forever. Those young women who flocked to knitting five or six years ago have either switched to other hobbies or are now more experienced. Like many craft publishers, STC Craft's Falick is focusing on books that take knitters "beyond the scarf" to more challenging projects. The assumption is that the young audience has had its fill of knitted iPod covers…
This is the bit that really interested me. Many of the books marketed now are moving to another [more advanced] audience. While many books still have a beginner "how-to" section at the beginning, they have advanced techniques, and designs throughout the book. Melanie Falick, quoted above, did that recently with her amazing book, Handknit Holidays. The book had several advanced beginner patterns, as well as colorwork, extensive cable charts, and unconventional shapes and sizes (Christmas tree skirts, anyone?) to push knitters to think beyond the scarf and beyond the square.
And DIYers seem to appreciate the socially conscious side of the knitting community, visible in its numerous charitable organizations…
I was also happy to see this mentioned. Knitters are a caring bunch (as evidenced by your kind comments on my grandmother's passing) and can organize efforts well. I have been involved with the Dulaan Project, and plan to take part in this year's Red Scarf Project. I am also looking for ways to implement charity work into my own blog projects, like Socktoberfest and Project Spectrum. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them!
While the article mentioned a few bloggers and some of the blogger-turned-author trends of late, it did not give too much face time to our little movement here in the blogosphere. However, I am sure that the blogs, as well as several of the online forums are scouted by publishers, agents, and designers who are looking for the latest trends.
They are looking at us! SO tell them what you want the future of knitting to be! what kind of patterns would you like to see? do we even need more patterns? what is your dream knitting book?
(and let me know too by leaving a comment!)
PS-Before I leave tomorrow, I will be posting a short interview with Lisa Kartus, the new author of Knit Fix: Problem Solving for Knitters, as part of her blog tour. Lisa will also help me work through the dreaded holes that form with short-rows, so stay tuned!