As soon as the ice on the roads melted after the holidays, I headed for the library, and this book, Two Sweaters For My Father, was a treasure I found on the shelf with all the knitting books. Perri Klass is a pediatrician, the medical director of Reach Out and Read (“a national non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children, and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud, in pediatric exam rooms across the nation”), and a passionate knitter! This book of essays on knitting was a pleasure to read, not just because I’m a knitter, too, but because Perri Klass is a wonderful writer and a delightful human being. I felt like I’d found a new friend as I read this book.
Her essays, which have been published in various knitting magazines, are about all kinds of experiences she’s had related to knitting and life, and were fun to read. I chuckled all the way through her essay on teaching her daughter to knit. Her essay on knitting after 911, called Knitting in the Shadow, described how life changed even for knitters after that event. The title story, about knitting two sweaters for her father, was a lovely tribute to her father’s unconditional love. And I loved her stories about friendships and knitting, and about having surgery for a repetitive stress injury caused by non-stop knitting and her #13 circular knitting needle! Each story is full of humor and wisdom…and knitting.
I liked this description from her essay, “Y2K—The Year 2 Knit”:
“Knitting is here, knitting is now. When I am knitting, I am knitting—no message left, no tracking who owes whom an attempted communication. The yarn travels through my hands, the needles move, and I am creating a something that was not there before. Not a virtual something that can always be altered with a single click, but a real and tangible something, which can only be altered with a heartbreaking rip and then a multitude of clicks. I think about all the jobs nowadays in which there is no something you are making, and even no someone you are really seeing and talking to, and I understand how knitting fits and stretches to fill a need.”
And this explanation from her essay, “A Passion For Purls”:
“So what is it—what do I get from all this knitting, and what is missing when I take a hard look at myself and don’t see any yarn or needles?
What is missing, I think, is a special sense of portable everyday serenity. Knitting brings something into my life that I might also get—but generally don’t—from great music, religion, or the contemplation of majestic natural beauty. When I knit, my soul is calmed, and, sometimes, exalted. But it’s an every-day exaltation, a calm domestic serenity, easily transported from place to place in a cloth bag…”
Dr. Klass writes for those of us who find daily serenity and creative outlet in knitting or in some other kind of handwork. I’m delighted to have discovered this knitting doctor who champions early literacy!
More about Reach Out and Read — “Doctors and nurses know that growing up healthy means growing up with books. The ROR program provides the tools to help promote children’s developmental skills and later school success.”