The Scourge of Skyward Knitting Needles: Pandemic Edition!
Yes! It’s every knitter’s favorite fact finding post, in which we closely examine the knitting needles in a whole host of different children’s books and determine which books get it right and which books get it wrong.
As a refresher, let us remind you that when it comes to knitting there is one particular way that is most common to hold one’s own needles, whether you’re knitting a fair isle sweater in Dublin or purling a scarf in New Zealand.
Here is what a pair of hands knitting look like:
Unconvinced? Here are some more!
Now I’ve tried to find some images where the ends of the knitting needles are standing straight up, not down like in these photos, and I came up with nothing. Bupkiss. Nevertheless, picture book illustrators are HUGE fans of depicting knitting in this fashion. Time after time they muck up this very easy rendering of hands knitting. Why? We do not know, though I suspect it’s because knitting needles sticking straight up seems more fun visually. But know this: I keep track every single year. And now is the time for a reckoning.
If you are an artist and you find yourself on this list, do not fret too much. Many great illustrators have made this mistake. P.D. Eastman. Dr. Seuss. Lots of people!
How did 2020 stack up in terms of stitches? To determine that, I’m going to separate the books featuring the renegades from their covers. If you get the knitting needles correctly positioned, you get your title mentioned. If you don’t, I leave you anonymous.
You’d Think a Sheep Would Know
To be honest, I’m just impressed that she’s able to knit with hooves. That cannot be easy. Perhaps that accounts for why she’s holding her knitting needles incorrectly. She seems to be enjoying herself, though. If you don’t tell her she’s doing it wrong, I won’t either.
And This Little Piggy Makes Me Cry Wee Wee Wee, All the Way Home
So sweet! How can you resist this piggy? Again, knitting with hooves. These barnyard beasts are certainly determined to create handmade knitwear. But why are the needles looking like the television antennae of old-timey TV sets? And how does that stray pom-pom fit into all of this?
Bunnies Have Their Own Style
Yeah, honestly they weren’t even trying at this point. The bunny appears to have a death grip on each one of the needles and is stabbing them relentlessly into the top of that sock. It’s a great big sock, I’m not going to deny that, but I think the bunny has faked the whole thing. It bought the sock, grabbed some needles and yarn, flung everything out the window, and is now pretending like mad to be the one responsible for its creation. You’re not fooling anyone, bunny!
And Speaking of Bunnies . . .
This one takes a bit of concentration. So . . . the bunny has purple yarn and yellow yarn. It’s knitting a pattern with both, but rather than have both yarns handily available, the yellow is sitting off to the side. I guess we can assume that the yellow has finished its job and now the rest of the scarf will be purple? It’s a puzzle.
Whew! Okay. Enough of that. Now let’s see the books of 2020 where the artists showed knitting in its proper state:
It was early in February when this book hit our nation’s shelves. COVID was on the horizon but hadn’t struck yet. Meanwhile I was at work going through my usual pile of picture books when I came across the image above. While it may be a little loosey goosey in what knitting actually resembles, there was no denying that the needles were facing the correct way. Woohoo! Full credit to you, Luciana Navarro Powell!
This book comes to us from Israel and if you haven’t seen it yet then I highly recommend you get your mitts on it. It’s a marvelous dive into wacky extremes, but before any of that happens you get this crowded beach. This woman with the knitting, so engrossed that she doesn’t notice the open flames to her right, is using her beach time as knitting time. I don’t know that she should be dipping the ends of that scarf in the sand, necessarily, but it’s nice to see someone actually enjoying the process of knitting for once.
And for our final breath of fresh air . . .
Please forgive the quality of the image. I had to work off of an ebook galley to capture this one.
Tad Hills may have to win the award for Best Knitting in a Picture Book: 2020. Not only is Mistletoe holding her knitting needles correctly, but if you look close you can see that she’s carefully looped some of the extra yarn around her index finger. That’s a pro move that I’ve seen actual knitters do, and it tells me that either someone in Tad’s household is a knitter, or he actually did a tiny bit of research and looked at knitters before he created this image. Whatever the case, thank you, Tad! Once again your fine attention to small details puts you over the top.
Here’s to more and better knitting in 2021!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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