Thursday, June 19, 2008

Be a Voyeur - Sewing, Knitting Books On Your Bookshelves?

What is it about peeking at other people's bookshelves that's so intriguing? I can't really explain it myself, but it's certainly appealing even when I'm in a restaurant such as this one which is decorated with books cut in half. Yes, that's right. These books, which were in otherwise great condition - no stains, no dog-eared pages not even a musty smell, were sliced in half, right through the back and front covers, just so they could fit a set of shallow shelves. Even so, I had to pick these ruined books off the shelf and read them. I wasn't the only one, all my other friends at the table did the same thing to pass time until we got our order (they got the burgers; me, I had a humble bowl of chili and a Guinness.) It was so frustrating to pick up a cookbook which had some appealing German recipes, but the instructions were incomplete thanks to at least one over-enthusiastic decorator but not very appreciative reader. I mean I'm ok with giving away my books, but not destroying them if they're in good shape. I suppose halving a book makes it less marketable, so restaurant patrons are less prone to walking off with them after they've consumed one beer too many. Still!

Which brings me back to my own shelves. They're pretty small, compared to my pals'. I've always been this way. I didn't bother to buy too many books even as a precious fourth-grader, because I had the Glenview Public Library a block away. That's not to say, I didn't buy my share of Scholastic paperbacks at school. I did. But even so, my collection was so little and could be all contained in the shelves above the secretary desk in my bedroom. It just didn't make sense to spend all my babysitting money on books when I could borrow many for free easily. That way I also had left-over money for candy. As I got older, I started to buy my own clothes. Even then I was frugal - I remember the first outfit I put on lay-away at Fashion Plus in a nearby shopping mall.

In recent years, I haven't bought as many books, let alone read as many as I did as a pre-teen. I blame a lot of that on the Internet. Then when I do buy a book, I'm very practical about it. I can only justify books that I will use again and again. So you can imagine how guilty when I bought "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day". I assuaged my guilt by reasoning that I couldn't find the book at two libraries, so I was going to use my Borders coupon so I could read it now.

More recent purchases have included Wendy Mullin's "Sew U," last year it was "Sweaterbabe.com's Fabulous & Flirty Crochet" (I wanted it for several patterns, which I have to try). Further into the past, I bought a "Blueprints of Fashion" book, which is actually helpful when I'm thinking about how I might want to alter a vintage 40s dress. I've also bought some out-of-print sewing, knitting books that I know will be quite hard to find at the library. I actually was reading a compilation of 1920s-late 40s knitting book when there was a black-out recently in my apartment. I sat on the couch by a window, and read away until I got bored enough to actually leave my place.

That brings me to books I do want to borrow. I've got "Romantic Hand-Knits" on hold at the Rogers Park branch library. Someone else in Chicago (who could that be?) actually has the book at the moment. I really, really wish this person would return the book as soon as possible, so I can check out this book. Now as a child, I don't remember putting too many books on hold. Why would I? There were so many other books I could read while waiting for the One to be put back
onto the shelf into its proper, decimal system order.

But I'm an adult now who doesn't read nearly as much as she should, so one book on hold feels like forever, kind of like how I feel when a favorite band sets up to play but takes its time playing the first set. That just makes me so restless! "Romantic Hand-Knits" on hold is the knitting version of my "let's get the music going so I can dance!" anxiety. It certainly tests my patience in a way that Hamlet often does when we go outside so he can go to the washroom.

"Romantic Hand-Knits" is set to be returned any day now. With luck, it'll be back by tomorrow, the official beginning of summer. I'm not sure how I'll be notified - an email, postcard or a phonecall? So the next few days will be filled with suspense, but not the creepy Halloween-house variety. To keep myself from getting antsy, I visualize the book in my hands, a smile on my face. What a better way to launch a new season filled with sunshine, laughter, friendship, lots of creative projects including at least one from this book?

What sewing, knitting and crochet books are on your shelves? (By the way, I'd take a picture of my collection in my grandmother's bookcase, but my camera insists on using the flash when I take pictures indoors. The flash bounces off the shiny book covers and doesn't help with my quest to have really great photos on this site. I could pull out my favorite books, stack them up in a pile outdoors and take a picture, but what fun for you would that be? There isn't that covert "Oh, let's see what's in her medicine cabinet. Oh my gosh, she's taking St. John's Wort! She must depressed and won't tell me about it!" I'm just saying. Instead I give you yet another version of Santa Monica T. Aren't you just bored with the pattern on my site already? This top despite the twisty twin-needle top-stitching at the neckline, is one my favorites. It works with a job-interview plain Janet skirt and jeans, just not both at the same. The sheer knit makes it supremely comfortable even when it's extraordinarily hot.

1 comment:

Lindsay T said...

I'm fortunate to have a pretty nice collection of sewing books, anchored by my 1980's edition of The New Vogue Sewing Book. As I write this comment I have the Easy Guide of Sewing Tops and T-Shirts by Marcy Tilton on my lap.