I really like this book. It's been on my wish list for a while and I picked it up at a local bookstore this week. While I have yet to knit anything at all from it, I bought it for the stories and for the author's presence and personality that dominate the book.
The author has suffered with lupus and Crohn's disease for 16 years and has spent much of that time observing, journaling and responding in a compassionate and caring way. I believe that these shawls are the results of her kind and caring nature and her attempts to bring love and healing to a world that isn't really a kind or safe place to live. She uses knitting to express her empathy for others and to capture treasured memories. It's a lovely, lovely way to use knitting and the author infuses the text with her love of life and her love of people.
The designs are not necessarily unique or original, as she uses many patterns from Barbara Walker and the construction of a circular or half circle shawl is not new, but the idea of creating the shoulder hugging yoke with a different lace pattern than the body is certainly noteworthy. On the whole, the designs are really pretty, especially when shown off on pleasant looking models and laid out in their full circle form on a neutral background. The directions are accompanied by charts and the whole feel of the book is that of having your own personal knitting instructor sitting beside you. There is a very nice section on shawl construction and the reasons for casting on with a double strand--something I've never done myself. Gorgeous photography tops it all off. I am a little concerned that the binding may give way eventually. We'll see.
The patterns are graded by difficulty and the reader is encouraged--again by a personal story--to begin with the simplest and work up to the more difficult. Each and every pattern, regardless of ability level, will produce a satisfying and beautiful garment, if the author's prototypes are true to form.
I highly recommend this book, not because of the dead accuracy in the directions, and not because of the innovative designs, because I can't speak to those issues yet. I highly recommend this book because it lives up to its title. I felt "wrapped in comfort" by just reading the anecdotes, looking at the lovely shawl designs and by taking a look at the author's own story and face in the back. I highly recommend this book because I felt inspired to knit in order to bring whatever bit of peace and caring I can bring to people living in a hard and cruel world. I highly recommend this book because I want to be associated with people, like the author, who value people, love life, and their knitting reflects that. This book is one of very few that have challenged my reasons for knitting.
Thank you Alison Jeppson Hyde for a lovely contribution to my knitting life. I look forward to knitting your shawls and meeting you in person some day.