A month ago Donna Druchunas was kind enough to send a copy of her latest book Lituanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions. This book isn't just full of beautiful knitting patterns, which if you're a mitten knitter would be enough in itself. Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions is also a travelogue, a history and a sociological study of a country and its knitting culture. Lithuanian Knitting is a special treat for any knitter who hasn't able to travel often.
Donna and her co-author June Hall's writing brings you straight into the country each with their own perspectives on what brought them to Lithuania and how their love of knitting has influenced that journey. Reading this book enriches a knitter's hobby with new knowledge that isn't directly tied to technique or materials, but instead how seasons and necessity shaped the knitting of a region.
The book is well photographed and beautifully laid out, but without the precious photostyling that you see in most knitting books. Don't get me wrong, there's a time and place for that kind of photography, but most of the photos in the book are personal photos, or photos from old magazines and newspapers. This lends the book a more documentary feel, which is appealing to the serious knitter. So many knitters know that knitting is more than a hobby. Knitting can be a lens through which we view the world and Lithuanian Knitting offers knitters the opportunity to return to a time and place where knitting is central to a culture's everyday life.
The patterns themselves allow knitters to dive into Lithuanian culture without having to purchase a plane ticket. Indeed, starting a Lithuanian mitten project after reading the book encourages a knitter to feel Lithuania in their fingertips by replicating traditional Lithuanian stitch patterns. Understanding the origins of such patterns enhances the enjoyment of knitting them. You realize that you're not just knitting any flower, but a specific bloom that appears in a specific month. If you are a knitter in the dead of winter yourself, it is so easy to put yourself in the place of Lithuanian Knitters as you knit these mittens, which creates a common experience that makes one realize how much more connected we all are on this planet, and knitters even more through their knitting.
This is a great book for any knitter, especially at the holiday season.