Merry Christmas: For Kindred Spirits

Happy holidays, dear reader — whether you’re celebrating Christmas or just the fact that the days are getting longer at last, I wish you the very best. Personally, I am celebrating Christmas (albeit as a secular humanist/atheist/whatever term you prefer) in the way I love best: with family, food, wool, music, and warmth.

As a special Christmas treat, I am thrilled to announce a first for my blog: a giveaway draw! Read on for details…

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Green Gables Knits

I have been watching, with growing excitement, the build-up to publication for a new knitting book by Joanna Johnson, Green Gables Knits. The ebook was published at the end of October, and then the physical book arrived later in November. Let me tell you right now: you want this book.

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(A few of) my old Anne books

Now, admittedly, I have a soft spot for Anne of Green Gables. How could I not, as a book-loving Canadian girl named Anne? Long before I had even heard of Jane Austen, the Brontës, Alice Munro, Carol Shields, or any of my other now-favourite female authors, I was keenly aware that Anne would be a kindred spirit and a bosom friend for life.

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My sister’s Anne doll and her new favourite book

When my sister and I were young, my parents took us on a road trip to PEI and the Maritimes, and they read to us from Anne of Green Gables en route. When we got to PEI, we toured Lucy Maud Montgomery’s house and did all the other obligatory touristy Anne things, of course.

Later, when I was twelve, our local musical theatre group put on the Anne musical:

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A rather battered copy of the libretto

I was the assistant stage manager and props manager. (Did you know that a full production of Anne is second only to Phantom of the Opera in number of props? There are entire class sets of EVERYTHING from ice cream cones to slates and chalk.)

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Orangeville Music Theatre cast and crew of Anne of Green Gables, 1993 — I’m with the crew on the bottom right, with my hair in a ponytail and my head turned to the side. My sister is in a pale blue dress and braids.

My father starred as Matthew; I watched him die on stage every night. My mother was the producer and my sister was one of the ensemble cast.

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My father as Matthew

Here’s the song that my dad sang as he ‘died’, which still brings tears to my eyes:

(That’s from the official soundtrack from the Charlottetown Festival production, not our humble effort.)

 So, yeah, long story short: Anne has been part of my life for a long time, and I may be a little bit biased towards any knitting book that capitalizes on that. Or, framed another way, I have as much Anne cred as anyone could wish for, and am in a position to judge a good Anne book when I see one!

And you know what? Green Gables Knits is an excellent Anne book, and an excellent knitting book.

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Green Gables Knits

Have a look on Ravelry at the patterns included. There are eight patterns in all, ranging from the pretty but sensible Marilla’s Apron (the woman who wouldn’t sew Anne a dress with puffed sleeves would appreciate the practicality of this piece) to the wonderfully evocative Anne’s Carpet Bag (which is rather sturdier than Anne’s battered version, but is still ready to take its bearer onward to new adventures). Of course, for some eye candy, you can’t go wrong with Gilbert in his dashing scarf… I have three favourite pieces that I can see happily existing in my own life, even though I don’t live in Edwardian PEI: Anne’s Sweater (graceful and cozy all at once), Matthew’s Vest (understated, warm, and lovely, like the character himself), and Diana’s Hat (drapey, ruched, and stunning against the model’s jet black tresses). 

That’s where the book really shines, in fact: the styling is all very much period-inspired, the casting for the models is phenomenal, and the photos look like they could come from Avonlea itself, but the knits themselves aren’t tethered to the era that inspired them. Paired with the period costumes, they look perfectly at home, but you can also pair them with jeans and tees and look absolutely on-trend. In fact, check out the author’s blog for her instagram photos of the pieces in action in her very modern life. I also loved that even the layout of the book — right down to the typography — feels similarly period-appropriate and yet fresh.

The other thing I appreciate about the book is that it has been carefully researched, and the patterns are interspersed with photos and information from the Lucy Maud Montgomery archives. The book has the blessing of Montgomery’s estate, the descendants who oversee the whole Anne industry and are understandably loath to lend their endorsement to shoddy work or questionable spin-offs.

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So here’s the exciting Christmas present I have the pleasure of sharing with you, dear reader:

Joanna Johnson, the author, has very kindly offered to send a copy of Green Gables Knits to one lucky reader of this blog!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Tell me about which pattern you would knit from the book, or tell me about your first encounter with Anne, or tell me about your very own kindred spirit! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ and comment with the link to win an extra chance to win.

I will choose the winner a week from today (on New Year’s Day), and get in touch with the winner to get your particulars so that Joanna can send you your book.

For now, I will leave you with Anne and Diana singing “Kindred Spirits”:

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Merry Christmas: For Kindred Spirits

  1. Heather

    Did I ever tell you about my mother dressing us up to go to green gables in pei? Every foreign tourist must have stopped us that day, the North Americans didn’t seem interested though! Two girls with their red hair in braids, both wearing prairie dresses… My mother has yet to live it down.

  2. Robin54

    There are 3 patterns I have my eyes on – the carpet bag, sweater,& shawl. Thanks for the giveaway & enjoy the holidays!

  3. I would knit my husband a Matthew’s Vest; just perfect for him.

  4. It hardly seems fair for me to enter, but I want to comment anyway! I have so many great Anne memories from childhood and from putting on the play in Japan… like the stage crew having green hands for days after they sharpied a blond wig green without wearing gloves! Or the classic bit on opening night when Gilbert used real ice cream instead of the prop, and it went straight in Anne’s eye…

  5. Cheryl

    Oh, what a neat book!

    I don’t remember my first encounter with Anne, I know the books were read & re-read many times growing up (Rilla is still my favourite) and I saw the movies and the play multiple times. But the most memorable was being a Blewett child in the production our local theatre group put on. Great memories of rehearsals & crazy performances! (Women’s dressing room was 3 floors up from the stage, it was the middle of summer and we all had 3 layers on (bloomers, petticoats & skirts!))
    Always had lots of comments about being Anne or carrots because of the red hair growing up.

    • Cheryl

      Oh & living in Japan with red hair was fun! Lots of comments from middle-aged women (who were girls when Anne hit its most popular in Japan) who would go on & on about red-haired Anne :)

  6. Debra

    The book looks lovely. As a ginger I have always identified with Anne. I have read the books so many times I can almst recite them from memory. Loved her dramatics. Gilbert’s scarf or Diana’s hat would be the place to start. Thanks for the giveaway

  7. sharon

    Love Mathew’s vest, I would love to make that for a special someone!
    Read all the books as a child and yeah being a ginger, Anne was a special character for me.
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

  8. Merry Christmas to you, Anne! I’ve always loved the Anne books & my copies are falling apart. I just wanted to stop in & wish you the best now & in 2014.

  9. I think my first project from the book would be Anne’s Sweater. With the extra length, long cuffs, and pockets it would be the perfect thing to throw on in the cold winter months! Plus I do love that green color…
    I was raised on the Anne books, them being one of my mum’s favorite series. I reread the books almost every year.

  10. When I was in the 4th grade my teacher read Anne of Green Gables to the class. One chapter, every day after lunch, read aloud from her perch on an old wooden stool. I was enraptured from the first page. A family trip to PEI when I was 10 further cemented my love of all things Anne or LMM related. Since that time, I have read and re-read that story, as well as all the others in the series. Apart from the original Anne, Rilla of Ingleside ranks as my absolute favourite. I love how my thinking about Anne and the various characters has shifted as I have grown from child, to adult, to mom… giving me a different perspective on the story each time I read it. I would love to win a copy of this book and weave my own piece of “Anne” into my life.

  11. Linda

    I would love to knit Diana’s Hat. Thank you for the chance to win the book.

    Lmecoll on Rav

  12. Kristi

    I would love to knit Miss Stacy’s Shawl from the book.

  13. Alexis

    Would love to knit the sweater and ogle all the pretty pictures.

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  15. angie

    Would love Anne’s sweater. I grew up reading the series and watching it on PBS. I also have a spirited red myself.
    Knitterlydesigns on ravelry

  16. I love Anne of Green Gables! I have read all the books around eleventy million times, and love them :) The Anne’s sweater pattern is lovely and would probably be the first thing I’d knit from the book!

  17. And also on the twitters, for all the other knitting friends!

  18. Sadly, I didn’t read the books when I was younger because I just didn’t appreciate reading until I was almost out of school. But I was a movie fan & watched the movies so many times I probably wore our VHS tapes (yes, I said VHS) out!

    These patterns are gorgeous & take me back to the days when I would get lost in the movie. Close everything else off & focus on the story. And I would absolutely love to make myself Anne’s sweater!

  19. Brenda

    I would love to win. I read all the Anne books as a girl, then watched the TV series. I would love to knit “Anne’s Sweater” if I can. I’m “goodstuff”n Ravelry.

  20. I have loved Anne since we first ‘met’ when I was 9 years old. The principal of my school was from Nova Scotia and she lent me her original hardback copy of Anne of Green Gables, knowing how much I would enjoy it. I remember the smell of the pages and the wonder that came from her sharing something so precious with me. Later, when the TV series came out, snow days were Anne-fests! Many years on, Anne – and the teacher who introduced us – still hold a special place in my heart.

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