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The Power of Knitting (Book Review)

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

It's time for another Feature Friday - a monthly series where I feature something from the knitting world that I think is great! It could be designers, indie dyers, local yarn shops or resources that I want to highlight and celebrate.


Today I am sharing a brand new book that was released this month - The Power of Knitting: Stitching Together Our Lives in a Fractured World by Loretta Napoleoni.

I saw many people on social media talking about this book in the last month, and I was intrigued. The bright and colourful cover is enough to grab anyone's attention, but I couldn't wait to dive into the subject matter as a knitter.


When it arrived, I was drawn again to how beautiful the book itself was, inside and out. There are lovely drawings throughout the book. I felt emotional when I read aloud to my husband the subtitle and the caption on the back that says:

"How knitting empowers, heals, and reconnects us to one another and ourselves."

I felt a connection to the story before I even began reading. And, I dived right in as soon as I had it in my hands.


Here's what the book is all about, from the publisher:


In a fractured world plagued by anxiety and loneliness, knitting is coming to the rescue of people from all walks of life. Economist and lifelong knitter Loretta Napoleoni unveils the hidden power of the purl and stitch mantra: an essential tool for the survival of our species, a means for women to influence history, a soothing activity to calm us, and a powerful metaphor of life.


This book is a voyage through our history following the yarn of social, economic and political changes - from ancient Egypt and Peru to modern Mongolia, from the spinning bees of the American Revolution to the knitting spies of World War II, and from the hippies'' rejection of consumerism to yarnbombing protests against climate change. For the author it is also a personal journey of discovery and salvation, drawing on the wisdom her grandmother passed along as they knit together.


Revealing recent discoveries in neuroscience, The Power of Knitting offers proof of the healing powers of knitting on our bodies and minds. Breaking through societal barriers, even nursing broken hearts, and helping to advance cutting-edge science, knitting is still a valuable instrument for navigating our daily lives.


As a bonus, the book includes patterns for ten simple yet iconic projects that reflect the creative, empowering spirit of knitting, with complete instructions.


I loved this book. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed learning more about the history of knitting, which is mostly undocumented. The intertwining of historical and personal stories helped to connect the reader to the text. It was touching to experience Loretta's vulnerability as she used knitting to heal through a difficult time in her life. And it was terrific to see stories of knitting in the modern world making an impact on societal change.


Here are some of my favourite concepts from the book.


I am not alone, I am the stitch between two beautiful purls, between my grandmother and my goddaughter, and together we are a knit stitch in the great pattern of social history.

I loved this analogy, especially as we live more and more in isolation - not just because of the global pandemic forcing us to stay home but also because of how we live so much of our life online. Knitting and crafting connect us in ways that last for generations. While my grandmother didn't teach me to knit, I have always felt a kinship to her, knowing that she, too, was a talented knitter. And for every person I teach, I knit another stitch in the connected fabric.


We are not alone. We share pain, sorrow, and despair, as well as hope, joy and happiness.

Knitting is yoga for the mind. I have personally experienced the positive effects of the moving meditation that is knitting, and I was delighted there was a whole chapter dedicated to this concept. It helps us to cope, heal and recover from whatever life throws at us. Knitting has therapeutic effects, helps promote creativity and connects us with purpose. There are proven benefits of knitting on mental health, dementia, and addiction.


A good knitter always has the courage to undo her work and fix a big mistake. A good knitter knows that everything can be mended as long as there is yarn and needles in her hands and courage in her heart to go back and start all over.

As Loretta speaks of her healing journey after divorce throughout this book, you can see how she has unravelled and begun stitching again. This analogy speaks to me and my personal experiences. It reminds me that it is okay to make decisions that may not end up the way you anticipated and that there is always a chance to try something new. It reminds me to let go of fear and not let uncertainty dictate how I live my life. I will unravel a knitting project that I am not happy with, and while it can be hard on the yarn, I have faith that all will work out in the end. And I strive to live by this in my life as well.


I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves history, sociology, economics, personal growth stories, and of course, knitting.


Available now from wherever you buy your books, including Audio and eBook.


Please note that this post contains some affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a small commission. Thanks.


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©2020 by Nicole Thomas