Book Review

  The Loving Stitch: A History of Knitting and Spinning in New Zealand
by Heather Nicholson
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Knitting has provided solace throughout the ages, filling a utilitarian need while providing a creative outlet -- sometimes the only one -- for countless people.

Heather Nicholson's painstakingly researched "The Loving Stitch" tells the story of European settlers in New Zealand over the past century from the perspective of knitters and spinners. The premise may sound esoteric, but the result is simply captivating.

Historic Novel

Nicholson sets the stage by explaining the state of knitting and spinning in Europe before Europeans began migrating to New Zealand. She moves fluidly from broad facts to intimate details of people's daily lives, making this read both like a history book and a novel.

Once in New Zealand, these settlers faced challenging, often grueling circumstances. Nicholson shows again and again how knitting and spinning provided comfort, creative satisfaction, and a sense of kinship among women (and a few men) while filling a crucial utilitarian need.

And in a subtle way, Nicholson suggests that women wouldn't have been encouraged to pursue this type of creative freedom and quiet meditation had it not resulted in wearable objects for the family.

A Labor of Love

"The Loving Stitch" represents a vast and impressive body of research, some of which I am amazed Nicholson managed to uncover.

Although her tone occasionally slips into the academic, Nicholson does an admirable job of conveying many facts and keeping things interesting.

Timeless Feelings Revealed

For me, "The Loving Stitch" repeatedly gave words to my own feelings about knitting. In fact, I kept wanting to call up non-knitting friends and read them passages in the hopes that they'd finally understand what I've been trying to explain all these years!

If you love knitting or are interested in cultural history -- no matter where you're from -- you'll love this book, period.

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Previous reader comments

"Is there anyone out there who has seen any books on knitting and spinning over the centuries in France? There seems to be a dirth of information on the subject." toisons, 10/01/01

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