Book Friday: Seasonal Slow Knitting (Thoughtful Projects for a Handmade Year) by Hannah Thiessen

Disclaimer here: I can knit, but I am not, from choice, a knitter. If you give me a free choice of yarncrafts, I will go for crochet every time. Knitting comes under the too fiddly to be bothered with label. That said, like many people, I admire good handknitting, and appreciate the skills used. Also… this book is so not just about handknitting. You’ll see.

Second Disclaimer here, too: I didn’t realise that Hannah Thiessen had a first book out called, simply, Slow Knitting, which I do not currently possess. Having read this one (the colours drew me in) I may well go and find the first book at a later date. I hope it’s also not just about knitting.

I bought Seasonal Slow Knitting on a whim with my June book budget money. It was the colours on the cover, more than anything else, that drew me to it. That pale blue background contrasted against a quartet of gold, cream, bronze and a brown that reminds me of the best gingerbread in yarn form. They’re colours that have been hanging around my life for about 5 years now, since Downton Abbey first hit the bronze and prussian blue of the roaring twenties, and A Discovery of Witches set them as the default colour palette for the whole production. They’re complementary colours, which means they set off a sense of movement and contrast in the mind of the beholder. Red and green do similar, as does yellow and purple, which is why Christmas and Spring colour palettes look so lively.

Like I say, I’m not a natural knitter, so buying a book on knitting was not a natural choice to me. I think I thought I’d see what crafts were on offer, possibly adapt and make them in crochet, or find a comparable crochet book later on (big clue: there isn’t one). I haven’t knitted anything since last I knitted a jacket or jumper for one of my children, and I stopped that when the eldest was about 10 and the jumper sizes just grew too big to be bothered with. You get the picture: I don’t naturally knit.

But I was overly concerned: Seasonal Slow Knitting is actually about so much more than knitting. It’s about slow living through knitting, about adopting a mindset that isn’t all about fast fashion fast food and fast cars. And Hannah captures the seasonality of slow living well in this book.

The contents are divided quite simply into the four seasons: Spring and Autumn Equinoxes and Winter and Summer Solstices. As you can see, the contents page itself is quite sparse, with little information on what is in the book. Each season’s Chapter heading acts as a separate contents page, really, with an assortment of essays on life,

The professed aim of the book is that “you will discover small ways to change your daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal knitting practises to make slow crafting a reality for you. I hope that you’ll find a single sentence, a tip or maybe a pattern that resonates and that you can carry with you.” I think that’s a very laudable aim, and one I think we should all aspire to. Pleasure, comfort and cosiness in the small things of life cannot be sneered at, even though many want to make them seem unimportant. Politics may be the big engine that runs the world, but daily lives, and the happiness of the population, keep the machine greased and working efficiently.

The book has plenty of advice for knitters, from choosing accessories, to natural dying to darning items that, through wear or insect activity, have developed holes. Darning always seems like such a cool thing to be able to do, especially in these green days of eco-awareness. I’m surprised more people don’t do it, except modern, cheap socks aren’t worth the effort.

But the real power of the book for me is that it is about so much more than the nuts and bolts of knitting. Yes, there are patterns and techniques (there’s a lovely jumper pattern that could… almost …. persuade me out of knitting retirement) and the illustrations (all full colour) are beautifully put together, flat lays or shots of yarns, hands, garments and Hannah’s home in shades of Autumnal goldenness. This is a seasonal book, but there is no brash yellow and purple spring, no red and white winter Christmas here. The palette is beautifully nuanced throughout.

It’s the pulling out of threads to encourage us to build a slow life in and around the knitting that I like. There is so much in this book that reminds me of Heather Bruggeman at Northridge Farm, the idea of living in harmony with the seasons, of changing life subtly to suit the weather or the activities at that time. The book contains crafts that aren’t knitting as well… instructions on how to make a small pouch, a circular knitting needle storage bag or candles in re-purposed containers.

But the essays that speak most to me (perhaps unsurprisingly) are those that speak to comfort, cosiness and the quiet pleasures of time spent well at home. I love the essay on the scent of knitting (including rare praise of lanolin) and that on building a slow wardrobe, the mindful acquisition of garments that have taken time to make and will take time to wear out.

And the wonderful cosy writing about the Sacredness of Tea and Knitting. Hannah is perfectly right that “Tea is always welcome where knitting is involved, too.” The essays aren’t highfalutin’ or complex sociological forays into the psychology of knitting. They’re a life well-lived and carefully collated. Reading them gives one a warm sense that Hannah, whatever her different life situation from you, would be open to an afternoon sharing tea and her knitting space with you, spending the last golden rays of an Autumn afternoon or the flickering candlelight of winter crafting. In short, she seems like a really nice person.

As usual, I’ll leave you with a video flipthrough of the book. It’s a solid 8 by 12 inch hardback, but not too big, and good quality matt paper. I have no idea why this video has decided to be portrait, not landscape, nor how to change it. I’m just imagining you all getting to this point and watching, heads cocked to the right and nodding in time to the music. Apologies. As long as you’re not on the bus, you’ll be okay.

You can find Hannah on Instagram and Facebook as well as her personal website, Hannah Thiessen. I’d never come across her before (apologies if she’s like a knitting superhero: like I say, just not a knitter) but I’ve had to bookmark the site for another day when I need some pretty and yarny inspiration.

Today’s header is a shot of the book and my current crafting project… a really pretty and long scarf that I’m going to tweak into a shrug/shawl/over something funny named piece of clothing. The wool is Stylecraft Dreamcatcher shade Apache, and works beautifully. It’s warm, but light and the colours are lovely. They do, indeed, suit the aesthetic of the book very well indeed. Perhaps I should always match my reading and crafting this well….

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

How to Hygge Your Summer: Hygge isn’t just about candles, throws and fireside cuppas (if indeed it is ever actually about them) and this book gives you ideas for creating hygge ready spaces and paces of life throughout the summer.

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading and thinking about hygge as well.

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