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…
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.
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.
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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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”: