I came home from work one day last week to find a corrugated cardboard package had arrived for me. The return address read MBI Publishing, or something like that. I put it aside and made dinner. I had gotten home later than usual and was in a hurry to put something edible on the table. We sat down to eat, and I stopped in mid-chew ...
The book. The book had arrived. What was I thinking! I ripped open the cardboard and found three lovely advance copies of Knitting Through It: Inspiring Stories for Times of Trouble.
Long ago (October 2006), I had submitted a draft of my story "Sofia's Hands" to Lela Nargi who had announced her plans for a new book on Knitter's Review. Lela, a successful editor and writer, had produced Knitting Memories: Reflections on the Knitter's Life and Knitting Lessons: Tales from the Knitting Path, both well-received by the knitting community, and much beloved for their warmth and ingenuity.
The new book was in its formative stages, and she wanted some fresh stories to add to the collection. I was indeed "fresh" and somewhat timid about the entire publishing process, having no real professional writing experience. I had written a few essays published in local mags when I was in my twenties, but since then, my writing had been sequestered to business reports and an occasional blog entry. When Lela asked me to expand my original submission, I was excited and more than thrilled. She offered great suggestions for improving my idea, while still keeping my prose intact. Published friends had told me horror stories of their words slashed to ribbons, but this was not my experience at all. I was relieved and elated.
Upon opening the package, after carefully wiping my hands, I found that the cover was different than the advance cover I had seen on Amazon a couple of months ago. The new design is sweet and tantalizing, and the heart shape formed by a strand of yarn hints of the tender stories inside. (Barnes & Noble has it, too, and you can read the table of contents there.)
The stories come from various sources, including new authors, veteran writers, and the WPA Federal Writers' Project. A number of black-and-white photographs from the Library of Congress and a few patterns are great complements to this volume.
One interesting note: I had included a reference to the Oomingmak cooperative in the first draft of my story. This knitting cooperative I visited in Alaska produces knitted items from the underwool of the musk ox to supplement the income of their subsistence communities. Lela had been looking for stories about native American knitters, and this spurred her to contact Donna Drachunas, who had just published the book Arctic Lace, and had done extensive research on the Oomingmak. Donna contributed a story to this book, and I was pleased that Lela added a reference to Donna's story in "Sofia's Hands."
My story is personal. It relates the trials of dealing with my own mother's illness and caring for my mother-in-law in her last years. Knitting was my solace and a my distraction during that time, and with every fiber of my being, I am grateful to the knitting community for helping me through it.
In the back are "Notes on the Contributors" -- mine is a little frivolous, but I had to say something!