A Children’s Literature Love Song for Knitting Nerds

~posted by Ruth

knittingI admit it:  I am a knitting nerd. Whether it’s Lady Violet’s Dinner Gauntlets (fingerless gloves in “Christmas at Downton Abby ” wool yarn),  bunnies and foxes knit from scraps for Vivi and Lucca, baby sweaters, scarves, or even knit dishclothes, I am addicted to the world of yarn and knitting.   I love to knit for friends and family–and always hope they like what I have knit for them–but you never know! So, here’s to the knitters among us, with a handful of books that celebrate the art and craft of twisting and knotting yarn!

Extra-YarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Annabelle knit clothing for everyone in her bare, colorless town, drawing colorful yarn from a magical box that always has more “extra yarn” to help transform her community.  She creates sweaters and coverings for people, then animals–and even trees and houses!  Enter the evil Archduke, who was “very fond of clothes” and manages to steal the yarn box.  A fairy tale happy ending, of course.   You’ll love the story of the power of a child to create a new world–and the delightful and whimsical illustrations by Jon Klassen.

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Knitting-NellKnitting Nell by Julie Jerslid Roth

I can really identify with Nell: not only does she find solace and pleasure in her knitting, but she is an introvert who likes her quiet time and prefers to listen to her friends than take center stage.  Nell teaches her friends to knit–and takes a prize for her quiet skills as a knitter. Lovely watercolors are upbeat, and at the same time, reflect the shyness of Nell, with its calm and enticing–yet colorful–watercolors.

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WoolburWoolbur by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Lee Harper

The story of a free-spirited little sheep.  His Maa and Paa would have preferred an offspring a bit more conventional.  Who else but Woolbur would actually card the wool while it is still on his back? That’s just one example of this unique sheep who has his own way of doing things, whether it is dying himself a bright blue or having un-sheeplike adventures that cause his parents to worry.  Very lovingly–and cleverly–illustrated.

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PhoebePhoebe’s Sweater by Joanna Johnson, illustrated by Eric Johnson

I have to include at least one book that has actual knitting patterns “woven in” to the story!  While Phoebe and her family await the arrival of Baby Sister Mouse, her Mom is knitting. . .a new sweater for Phoebe.  But that’s not the only reason I chose this book.  In its own right, it’s a charming story of family bonds, changing dynamics, and growing love.  The illustrations are the perfect complement.   The actual sweater pattern is clear and easy to follow–not only for your little girl, but her doll.  If this picture book is just your cup of tea, you’ll also want to get your hands on Freddie’s Blanket.  Another sweet story, with knitting patterns this time for Freddie’s blanket, Freddie platypus, and even his sister May!

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LesterLester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell

Here’s a book that strikes a chord for me–and probably children every where, though for a different reason.  What happens when the recipient of the lovingly-knit gift doesn’t appreciate their sweater?  And what if it is completely understandable because the sweaters are, well, dreadful?  That’s the case for Lester when his knitting Cousin Clara comes to live with his family.  At first he thinks nothing of it, but then she begins to knit him sweaters, each more dreadful than the last. (I can only hope my family doesn’t harbor similar thoughts about my knitted gifts!) But I must admit, the extra arms, huge pompoms, and strange patterns are quite a shock!  Luckily, they are perfect (spoiler alert!) for a troupe of clowns and all ends well.  This book is just plain fun, with terrific (and award-winning) illustrations.  Makes a wonderful readaloud!

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