Today I am starting the first in a recurring series of blogs. This first series, Books That Changed Everything, will feature book reviews that are a bit more personal than the typical “this book is amazing because” or “I couldn’t stand this book because” reviews. Since the Craft Project documents my journey to become a DIY princess, I thought I should highlight the art and craft books that have truly influenced me, changed my point of view, or made a huge difference in how and why I create. This series will become a regular feature on the blog and I am of course open to suggestions for books to highlight (print or e-books)…leave a comment or send me a message with your suggestions and why the book made such a difference to you (I’d love to feature your story here to share with the community).
Which leads us to the first book (or in this case, series of books) that will be featured as a book that changed everything: the Stitch N’ Bitch series. This set of books by knitting phenomenon Debbie Stoller has re-introduced a whole generation of knitters and crocheters to their craft. Her fresh, funky, and most importantly, fun, patterns have contributed to making knitting cool again and bringing the craft into the mainstream (this is not to say that other sources, such as Ravelry, haven’t also had a huge role to play). The series now contains five titles: Stitch N’ Bitch, Stitch N’ Bitch Nation, Son of Stitch N’ Bitch, The Happy Hooker, and Stitch N’ Bitch Superstar Knitting.
I chose this fantastic set of books for my first review because they marked a real turning point for me. As a child, art and craft were my life (well that, and running wild in the woods). I grew up in a tiny town (population 300 in the summer, 250 in the winter), isolated in the center of a national park, and I followed my passions wherever they led me. When I hit grade four I needed to change schools (our town’s one-room school only went to grade three, after which we needed to take a one hour bus ride to the closest community for class). The community which I attended the latter part of elementary school and the early part of high school in valued resources (the town’s economy was built on logging), hockey, and people who fit the mold. I didn’t fit the mold…but like so many youth before me I learned to adapt to the mold to survive…part of that adaptation took the form of stepping back from art and craft. I never completely left my passions behind, that would have been too painful, but I did publicly distance myself from them to stay under the radar (although I certainly kept them up in the safety of my family’s home).
I was saved from this reality by my family’s move to Whitehorse – a community that thrives on and celebrates the unique quality of it’s members; by my mother who continued to support my passions, however quietly I chose to express them in public…and finally by Debbie Stoller. I’m sure if Debbie were to ever read that statement she would be taken aback…after all we’ve never met or exchanged an email, in fact, I’m quite certain she doesn’t know I exist…but despite this she provided me with a great gift. In Stich N’ Bitch she celebrated the craft of knitting, she made it cool, and more importantly she shouted uniqueness from the roof tops. And she gave me the confidence, at a time when I really needed a bit of a push, to do the same. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that if my mother hadn’t handed me Stich N’Bitch one day as a gift, the Craft Project may never have came to be, and I might be instead working as as a field geologist right now instead of typing to all of you.
Debbie, if you ever read this…thank you.