Love in Every Stitch by Lee Gant

Love in Every Stitch: Stories of Knitting and Healingarrived at my house a week before I left on the trip to India.  I brought it with me and read it while I was away.  When I preordered this book, I had never heard of the author and expected lighthearted, fun stories.  From the very beginning, it became clear that ‘lighthearted’ is not the best descriptor of this book.  These are stories of redemption and survival, and the circumstances that challenge us are never lighthearted!

Lee Gant (website, Facebook, Ravelry) is a knitwear designer and instructor.  She’s also a recovering addict.  A few chapters of the book share parts of her own story and the ways that knitting helped her as she struggled to overcome her addictions.  The remainder of the 29 chapters share the stories of other knitters whom Ms. Gant has met, mostly while working in various yarn shops.  The chapters are divided into 9 themes — changing, overcoming, grieving, mending, giving, discovering, living, sharing, and ending — with three or four stories in each category. The knitters and crocheters in this book ply their craft through addiction, abuse, death of close family members, or illness.  Each story emphasizes how knitting or crocheting helped the storyteller to survive and, eventually, thrive.  We also learn more about Ms. Gant’s story, through the dialogues in various chapters.

Once I better understood the angle of this book, I was concerned that the stories would be trite or manipulative.  I did not find that to be case.  For the most part, Ms. Gant writes beautifully and honestly.  She doesn’t try to wrap up every story with a neat bow (though there’s a couple that are) or imply that everything will be okay.  Crafting is a life raft that helps each person to continue taking the next step.  And the next.  And the next.

My biggest annoyance with the book was that Ms. Gant awkwardly inserted her reactions and parts of her own story into the middle of other stories.  The majority of the stories are written from her perspective.  The stories usually start with a brief set up of how Ms. Gant met the storyteller and at some point shift into long blocks of first-person dialogue from the perspective of the storyteller.  This worked for me as a way of getting into the story.  However, in many of the chapters, the first-person dialogue is interrupted with Ms. Gant’s own inner or outer thoughts.  At times, these transitions did not feel like a natural conversation, and pulled me out of the story of the chapter.  I was also left with a sense that the book was disjointed because we are getting Ms. Gant’s life story in bits and pieces.

Despite these problems, I loved the book.  From the first sentence (“I spent many troubled years standing in front of the mirror with my face pressed close to the glass, peering into each pull, trying to see all the way into myself.”), I was drawn into the book and did not want to put it down.  Part of the reason I was so drawn in is because I could write a story suitable for inclusion in the book — knitting kept me grounded through the deaths of 14 family members in 19 months, and the radical rearrangement of my life as a result of that time.  While I may not have faced the same challenges as the storytellers in this book, I understand how the repetitive, meditative, and social aspects of knitting can carry you through them.  I was inspired by the reminder, and by the fortitude of each storyteller.

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