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. Read more...
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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 45.
- Review Date: 2010-02-01
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (Mar.)