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Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously

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Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously Cover

ISBN13: 9781416597643
ISBN10: 1416597646
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"I knit so I don't kill people" — bumper sticker spotted at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

For Adrienne Martini, and countless others, knitting is the linchpin of sanity. As a working mother of two, Martini wanted a challenge that would make her feel in charge. So she decided to make the Holy Grail of sweaters — her own Mary Tudor, whose mind-numbingly gorgeous pattern is so complicated to knit that its mere mention can hush a roomful of experienced knitters. Created by reclusive designer Alice Starmore, the Mary Tudor can be found only in a rare, out-of-print book of Fair Isle–style patterns, Tudor Roses, and requires a discontinued, irreplaceable yarn. The sweater, Martini explains, "is a knitter’s Mount Everest, our curse, and our compulsion. I want one more than I can begin to tell you."

And so she took on the challenge: one year, two needles, and countless knits and purls to conquer Mary Tudor while also taking care of her two kids, two cats, two jobs, and (thankfully) one husband — without unraveling in the process. Along the way, Adrienne investigates the tangled origins of the coveted pattern, inquires into the nature of artistic creation, and details her quest to buy supplies on the knitting black market. As she tries not to pull out her hair along with rows gone wrong, Martini gets guidance from some knitterati, who offer invaluable inspiration as she conquers her fear of Fair Isle. A wooly Julie and Julia, this epic yarn celebrates the profound joys of creating — and aspiring to — remarkable achievements.

Review:

"A writer, professor, and mother with a penchant for 'obsessively knitting,' Martini has spent plenty of time putting needles to yarn. In fact, she explains, knitting was central to her emergence from the postpartum depression she chronicled in 2006's Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood. Several years and a second child later, she's looking for a new level of knitting challenge, not to mention fodder for this second memoir. Her trademark humor and honesty make for an engaging read (for example, she writes, 'Both kids and craft have taught me how to deal with frustration so acute that I'd want to bite the head off a kitten'). Despite that, her grand knitting/writing project for 2008 was an Alice Starmore Fair Isle sweater, for its complexity of pattern, colors, and knitting technique. Martini casts on and explores the history of knitting, details visits and calls to fellow knitters near and far, and describes Starmore's determination to protect her brand and copyright. It's a lively, interesting blend of personal quest, knitting history and Starmore biography certain to appeal to knitters — and to readers who enjoy taking on (or reading about) a worthy personal challenge." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Shades of Julie and Julia? Well, yes, but Martini offers a deeper, more reflective narrative....Marvel — even if you're a nonknitter — at Martini's way with words....Purling through life was never so fascinating." Booklist

Synopsis:

Sweater Quest is the most appealing nonfiction narrative about knitting ever, chronicling the author's mission to knit the holy grail of all sweaters.

Synopsis:

The author of Hillbilly Gothic chronicles her adventures in knitting the holy grail of all sweaters.

Synopsis:

"I knit so I don’t kill people" —bumper sticker spotted at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

For Adrienne Martini, and countless others, knitting is the linchpin of sanity. As a working mother of two, Martini wanted a challenge that would make her feel in charge. So she decided to make the Holy Grail of sweaters—her own Mary Tudor, whose mind-numbingly gorgeous pattern is so complicated to knit that its mere mention can hush a roomful of experienced knitters. Created by reclusive designer Alice Starmore, the Mary Tudor can be found only in a rare, out-of-print book of Fair Isle-style patterns, Tudor Roses, and requires a discontinued, irreplaceable yarn. The sweater, Martini explains, "is a knitter’s Mount Everest, our curse, and our compulsion. I want one more than I can begin to tell you."

And so she took on the challenge: one year, two needles, and countless knits and purls to conquer Mary Tudor while also taking care of her two kids, two cats, two jobs, and (thankfully) one husband—without unraveling in the process. Along the way, Adrienne investigates the tangled origins of the coveted pattern, inquires into the nature of artistic creation, and details her quest to buy supplies on the knitting black market. As she tries not to pull out her hair along with rows gone wrong, Martini gets guidance from some knitterati, who offer invaluable inspiration as she conquers her fear of Fair Isle. A wooly Julie and Julia, this epic yarn celebrates the profound joys of creating—and aspiring to—remarkable achievements.

About the Author

Adrienne Martini, a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse, is an award-winning freelance writer and college teacher. Author of Hillbilly Gothic, she lives in Oneonta, New York, with her husband, Scott, and children, Maddy and Cory.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

opal, May 27, 2010 (view all comments by opal)
When I first stumbled upon this book, I was enthusiastic, and read it with a sincere desire to appreciate it.

However, except for Martini's clear style of prose, which I appreciated (although it is uncomfortably similar in style to that found on the "Yarn Harlot's" blog), and for some interesting nuggets of knitting lore, this is an incomplete work, in my opinion. I felt as if the author was casting about for a topic to "write a book about," and came up with the thought that if she knitted a difficult sweater, she could talk to acquaintances during the process, with the sweater-project as a "theme," and mine the internet for knitting quotes and urls to fill up the pages. It is forced and superficial, and seems hurriedly written rather than well-crafted (which is an apt characterization perhaps, seeing as how the outcome of her garment sounded as if it fit the same description).

"My Year Of Knitting Dangerously" left me with the impression that I had just read a blog, not a book. It has pleasant moments, but there is no consistent thread, except for a sweater designed by a woman about whom she offers much "from-a-distance" analysis. The title doesn't even relate to the content. (There was no danger, and only an arbitrary, self-imposed "year.") The book bounces around to no purpose, as if Martini were multi-tasking while composing text, then forgetting how she had arrived at her next chapter. Her story would have made a fine, light magazine article, but for this knitter, it was not worth the read. This book was quite a stretch, and it did not block out.
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ptarmigan, May 17, 2010 (view all comments by ptarmigan)
This is a rather specialized book, and probably your knitting group rather than your book group would want to read it. But to me it was as addictive as a detective story--I carried it around with me everywhere on the off chance I would have a few minutes to read a little bit more. Adrienne Martini got up inside my head, added some great information furniture, rearranged some of what was already there, and stirred some cobwebs.

The chapters follow Martini through the process of acquiring the book containing the pattern, the difficulty of finding the right yarns, the misery of multiple failures at merely counting cast on stitches correctly, the emerging beauty of the pattern's color changes, the satisfying rhythm of the later pattern repeats. Along the way, she makes entertaining and relevant digressions into the histories of Shetland and Fair Isle knitting, Mary Tudor and her clan, Starmore's clashes with yarn makers and web discussion leaders, eBay sellers and yarn shops. She travels to interview some of the major lights of the online knitting world.

The main question Martini toted along through the book like a big rock in her knitting bag was, "Does making a small change in a Starmore design (say, substituting a yarn for which the original no longer exists) still make it an Alice Starmore sweater?" Ordinarily this is not something that preoccupies your average knitter, but Starmore has gone to extreme lengths to protect her "brand" and ownership of her creative property, and many of the pattern books are out of print. The original yarns have not been available for years.

Ultimately, you have to answer the question for yourself, but reading Sweater Quest will lead you enjoyably to a well-informed choice.
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(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
BBCaddict, April 21, 2010 (view all comments by BBCaddict)
There's a few types of "knitting" books out there. There are the type with patterns in them and there are the type of "knitting philosophy" books that the Yarn Harlot (hallowed be her name) have made popular (NYT bestselling even!). This is one of the latter but it's also a personal story. It reads like a blog of a best friend. You're interested and engaged with Adrienne as she goes on a quest to not only knit an ALice Starmore sweater but as she does research into the Fair Isle, the fair isle knitting technique and Alice Starmore herself. For knitting nerds (like myself) it's incredibly cool. I found myself learning things that I thought were a bit dry and boring and have now found them interesting. This book might be the push that I need to tackle a fair isle sweater myself.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416597643
Author:
Martini, Adrienne
Publisher:
Free Press
Subject:
Needlework - Knitting
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Knitters (Persons)
Subject:
Knitting
Subject:
Biography-Women
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20100331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 7.385 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Women
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Books about Knitting
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Knitting
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Needlework

Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Free Press - English 9781416597643 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A writer, professor, and mother with a penchant for 'obsessively knitting,' Martini has spent plenty of time putting needles to yarn. In fact, she explains, knitting was central to her emergence from the postpartum depression she chronicled in 2006's Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood. Several years and a second child later, she's looking for a new level of knitting challenge, not to mention fodder for this second memoir. Her trademark humor and honesty make for an engaging read (for example, she writes, 'Both kids and craft have taught me how to deal with frustration so acute that I'd want to bite the head off a kitten'). Despite that, her grand knitting/writing project for 2008 was an Alice Starmore Fair Isle sweater, for its complexity of pattern, colors, and knitting technique. Martini casts on and explores the history of knitting, details visits and calls to fellow knitters near and far, and describes Starmore's determination to protect her brand and copyright. It's a lively, interesting blend of personal quest, knitting history and Starmore biography certain to appeal to knitters — and to readers who enjoy taking on (or reading about) a worthy personal challenge." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Shades of Julie and Julia? Well, yes, but Martini offers a deeper, more reflective narrative....Marvel — even if you're a nonknitter — at Martini's way with words....Purling through life was never so fascinating."
"Synopsis" by , Sweater Quest is the most appealing nonfiction narrative about knitting ever, chronicling the author's mission to knit the holy grail of all sweaters.
"Synopsis" by , The author of Hillbilly Gothic chronicles her adventures in knitting the holy grail of all sweaters.
"Synopsis" by , "I knit so I don’t kill people" —bumper sticker spotted at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

For Adrienne Martini, and countless others, knitting is the linchpin of sanity. As a working mother of two, Martini wanted a challenge that would make her feel in charge. So she decided to make the Holy Grail of sweaters—her own Mary Tudor, whose mind-numbingly gorgeous pattern is so complicated to knit that its mere mention can hush a roomful of experienced knitters. Created by reclusive designer Alice Starmore, the Mary Tudor can be found only in a rare, out-of-print book of Fair Isle-style patterns, Tudor Roses, and requires a discontinued, irreplaceable yarn. The sweater, Martini explains, "is a knitter’s Mount Everest, our curse, and our compulsion. I want one more than I can begin to tell you."

And so she took on the challenge: one year, two needles, and countless knits and purls to conquer Mary Tudor while also taking care of her two kids, two cats, two jobs, and (thankfully) one husband—without unraveling in the process. Along the way, Adrienne investigates the tangled origins of the coveted pattern, inquires into the nature of artistic creation, and details her quest to buy supplies on the knitting black market. As she tries not to pull out her hair along with rows gone wrong, Martini gets guidance from some knitterati, who offer invaluable inspiration as she conquers her fear of Fair Isle. A wooly Julie and Julia, this epic yarn celebrates the profound joys of creating—and aspiring to—remarkable achievements.

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