"I knit so I don’t kill people." —bumper sticker spotted at Rhinebeck
Sheep and Wool Festival
If you haven't heard of Adrienne Martini's book: SWEATER QUEST, My year of Knitting Dangerously, you are in for a treat.
Martini is funny. No she isn't Canadian, and she isn't the Harlot, but she is funny and writes very well.
This is the story of a woman in throws of young motherhood, who is trying to reclaim a small corner of her life where she might have some control. Much like Julie Powell of JULIE AND JULIA fame, Adrienne is not satisfied with any old run of the mill challenge. She has taken on the search, rescue and reclamation of the Holy Grail of the knitters pantheon: the "Mary Tudor" sweater pictured above on Alice Starmore's out of print book: TUDOR ROSES.
Now let me tell you my story about Tudor Roses. When I first brought it in to the store about 12 years ago, it was a very expensive book compared to others that we stocked. I believe it was about $30, maybe a bit more. I would order a copy and BANG, it would sell, despite the fact that the purchaser openly admitted that they would probably never make any of the sweaters; it was like a sirens call to buy the book that couldn't be ignored. So I would order another one and the same thing would happen within a few weeks so it wasn't just a couple of seduced spenders who were lured in.
You have to realize that aside from the price, each of these sweaters named for one of Henry VIII's entourage is made of fine "jumper weight" yarn - which translates to the thickness of a 4 ply sock yarn, which is comfortable and achievable for a pair of socks or baby clothes, but not the choice of many knitters at all for an adult garment, never mind a sweater of the intricacy of "Mary Tudor".
When things were slow in the store, or if we just wanted to show off what some crazy woman on a remote island off the coast of Scotland might dream up in her extreme need to keep her brain active, we would thumb through the Tudor Roses book. As an exercise one day, we decided to calculate the number and value of the fine pewter buttons on one of the sweaters: a beautifully cabled thigh length swing coat. I forget it's actual name and neither I don't remember the exact number but I do know that in 1999 Cdn dollars, the price of the buttons was $120!
As a great admirer of any breathtakingly beautiful piece of knitting and as summer reading demands a bit more levity, I thought that this would be the perfect time to share some of Adrienne's journey. So far so good, I'm really enjoying it.
I had bought the book at Novel Idea as a going away gift for Hillary, our Saturday student staff person and I thought I'd get myself a copy soon but was beaten to the punch by a buddy who has leant it to me. Book sharing friends are so nice. I'm sure that Chapters and Indigo probably have it too. I'll keep you posted as I make my way through her hear long quest.