Where Have You Been, Mary Thomas?


Knitters. Are you familiar with Mary Thomas? If not, then get thee to the library or book store and grab a copy of Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book. Holy cow! Here’s the first sentence:

“If all the looms in the world ceased to produce cloth, and the art of spinning and knitting alone remained, we could still be clothed, both warmly and fashionably.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but me? I love that sentence. I love how it cuts right to the chase. It says a true thing. Knitting is fundamental. We’re talking food, shelter, clothing. Fundamental. I know that, and I feel it all the time when I knit. I find it immensely comforting that even if the virus strikes, the economy tanks, or the EMP stops the forward march of civilization dead in its tracks, knitting will remain. Practically speaking, this fact might turn out to be entirely irrelevant for my life. But I like knowing it. And I love that Mary Thomas says it.

And that’s just the beginning. This book is an awesome little package. It opens with a satisfyingly robust history of knitting (I might not ever get over the fact that Charles I wore a hand knitted shirt to his execution), goes on to cover the basics with clear explanations in the kind of plain language you’d think any introduction to knitting would use but that most don’t, and then follows this up with a selection of “advanced” tips that are entirely useful – like how to “reheel” a sock and how to add a pocket. Socks and pockets! I love her.

How did I not know about this book?! The truth is I do remember Franklin Habit’s mentioning it on his blog several years ago, but when I looked it up, I’m pretty sure I rejected it out of hand because of the scary orange fingernail on the front cover (I know, I know). Later, I took a class with Franklin, and we struck up a conversation about  our mutual admiration for Maggie Righetti, whose comprehensive basic knitting book has long been one of my sentimental favorites. So I should have at least known then to follow his lead on Mary Thomas. It wasn’t until I came across references to her by both Jean Miles and Eunny Jang in the same week, however, that I finally ordered the book. Don’t make my mistake! It’s a gem.

Talk to me!