Last week, I got an email from one of the librarians at my library. She’s the one who handles inter-library loans (ILLs), so I often get emails from her that one of my requests is ready to pick up. Sometimes I request books that I’m thinking about buying, especially out-of-print knitting books. Sometimes I request books that our library should have, but doesn’t, like Dante’s Inferno*. But lately I’ve been ILLing The Rockford Files and Columbo DVDs. I was between series and rewatching Numb3rs until one or the other came in.
But that wasn’t what this email was about. This gem of a friend, who is also a knitter, was writing to tell me that someone had donated “a bunch of knitting books” to the libary. She decided not to add them to the collection, so she saved them for me.
A lot of retired people live in my city, and about once a week the library gets a large donation of mildewed books without dust jackets when people move, or, more likely, after someone passes away. I figured a bunch meant five, and I’d find one I’d like to keep.
I was there as soon as they opened the next day, and the librarian led me to a storage room in the back. She told me that some friends of a board member donated the books that belonged to their daughter who had died suddenly. I sent up a prayer for their loss, then did some quick maths: daughter = young = Stitch ‘n Bitch**.
Here’s what I saw in the closet:
Here’s what shut my mouth:
Ethnic Socks and Stockings by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts
Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold
Simply Socks: 45 Traditional Turkish Patterns to Knit by Anna Zilboorg
I’ve wanted these books for so long, and the covers were so familiar, I actually thought I owned them. But of course I didn’t because they were out-of-print, rare, and expensive.
For those who love detail, I also got Folk Bags, Swedish Sweaters, Learn-to-Knit Afghan Book, Best of Lopi, Big Knits and Great Big Knits by Dawn French (how cool are patterns by The Vicar of Dibley?), Celtic Knits, Enchanted Knitting, Family Knits, The New Knitting Stich Library (hardcover), Kids Kids Kids, Colorful Knitwear Design, Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects (I don’t enjoy knitting lace, but maybe I will after working through this), Vogue Knitting American Collection (which I own, but this was a nicer copy), Jean Moss World Knits, Charted Knitting Designs (hardcover), A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (which I own, but this is the 1968 version), and two German books: Burda Handarbeiten Leicht Gemacht I and Perfekt Stricken. Twenty-two books in all.
On my way home, I thought about this daughter whose library I was hauling home. From the titles, I knew that she was an accomplished and ambitious knitter, and that she was probably someone I would like to have known. My own library has similar types of books, heavy on the colorwork and cables. Like her with her German knitting books, I also have some fun vintage ones (it pains me that the 80s are considered vintage), like Knitting Wildlife and Around the World in Eighty Sweaters.
I wondered if she ever knit any of Anna Zilboorg’s Turkish socks or Elsebeth Lavold’s Viking pullovers. Or, if, like me, she wanted those books because they were beautiful and inspiring, knowing that she could knit a pair of Crazy Curl socks or Ragna one day if she had the time and the yarn, and wanted to put in the effort.
If she did knit those things, I hope her parents recognized them as accomplishments and kept them as they would her first finger painting or spelling bee trophy.
Thank you, daughter, for these books. I’ll treasure them and take good care of them, and I’ll think of you, knitting in heaven, every time I use them.
*I’ve never ILLed Dante’s Inferno, but still.
**There’s nothing wrong with Stich ‘n Bitch, but a) my library has it in their collection, and b) my knitting skillz are a little more advanced. (Also, the title of the book should have two apostrophes thusly—’n’—to represent the a and the d missing from the word “and.”)