What Would Madame Defarge Knit?
DIGITAL EDITION — PDF ($16.95)
DIGITAL (PDF) + PRINT ($26.95)
What Would Madame Defarge Knit?: Creations Inspired By Classic Characters, edited by Heather Ordover, offers 21 patterns/projects and accompanying essays, with something for everyone, including 4 crocheted patterns, detailed directions for two types of dyeing, and even directions for light-up pattern pieces using e-textiles. Jen Minnis, who created all the art for the book, also contributed a one-of-a-kind project that will allow you to make a Peter Pan-themed shadow puppet theatre at home.
WWMDfK? is unusual in a number of ways. First, the book has its own website, which will contain live links to additional material that can’t be contained in a print book, such as video tutorials, additional images, and more.
Second, the designers and contributors will be earning royalties from every sale — not a single, low, one-time-only payment for their work.
And third, by designing the book as a black-and-white Victorian era pastiche, complete with “woodcuts” and hand-drawn illustrations, we’ve kept production costs down, which means a lower price for you and better royalties for the contributors.
We’re all very proud of Madame, and we can’t wait to share her with you.
Dawn Ellerd, Gretchen Funk, Erica Hernandez
Meg Warren (patterns 1 and 2), Chrissy Gardiner
Dawn Ellerd (patterns 1 and 2), Kathleen Rogers
Heather Ordover is a writer, mother, knitter, teacher, and podcaster living in Northern Virginia. Her adventures have taken her from winning awards for teaching at a NYC high school (as well as at the University of Arizona) to writing curriculum, podcasting (CraftLit and Just-the-Books: All the Lit—None of the Craft), and now patterns and knitting books. She lives with her amused husband, two goofy sons, and far too many devoted mosquitoes.
Oh. And she knits.
Are you a Ravelry user? Click ON RAVELRY to see all individual patterns from the book. Add them to your favorites queue!
“I love this book! A delight in literature, crafts, friendship, and creativity is channeled through original knitting patterns. It took me on a journey of sharing, joy, discovery, and whimsy that left me exhilarated. It’s like CraftLit in a book!” — Julie Davis, Forgotten Classics podcast
“Not since I picked up a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac have I enjoyed reading a knitting book so much. This is not just a set of patterns with instructions. Each pattern is accompanied by a description of the inspiration for the project. I’m already adding books to my “to-read” list after seeing the inspired projects in this book. I like that this is a book I can sit down and read even if I don’t have time to work on a project from it.” — Carrie S. Bradfield (customer review on Amazon)
It’s Two Books in One—It’s a set of essays reflecting on classic literature.
It’s a knitting pattern book.
Perhaps surprisingly, it functions beautifully as both.
It takes a special group of book-loving knitters to latch onto A Tale of Two Cities and ask, “Just what was Madame Defarge knitting? Is there a pattern? Let’s make one!” What makes the book work ultimately is that editor and writer Heather Ordover pulls it all together and imbues it with the joy of curiosity, discovery, and whimsy.
Ordover, who is best known to book-loving knitters as the host of the CraftLit* podcast where literature and knitting gracefully combine. As much as I love the podcast, I would have thought it impossible to get it into a book. I would have been wrong.
The literature ranges from A Tale of Two Cities to The Wizard of Oz to Lysistrata to The Call of Cthulhu. The essays are thoughtful pieces divided into three groups: What I Did for Love, Song of the Sea, and Women of Valor. A variety of approaches contemplative, some are analytical, some humorous, and some are resigned to loving tentacles wherever they appear, but all mirror the same passion for story.
Is there such a thing as a book report done in knitting? The patterns which accompany each essay range from simple to complex and reflect the literature very well. Projects range from Hyde’s Hooded Sweater to an Ancient Mariner Watch Cap to Not-So-Ruby Slippers to Madame Defarge’s Stole (and thus we discover what Madame Defarge was knitting). If you don’t knit, there are other crafts included. I especially liked the Mermaid’s Lagoon shadow puppets which included the crocodile.
Food and drink are available also, albeit via links to the book’s website. Tips are scattered throughout to help with such challenges as crisp stripes, cabling without a cable needle, and attaching LED neckbolts (a tip that everyone will be sure to appreciate)….many items are found online rather than included in the book. This includes food and drink recipes, photographs, and some other features. To be fair, some readers love this, or so I have read on Ravelry. Others, like me, would prefer it all in one place. The reason for the on-line portions was to keep the book affordable.
…What Would Madame Defarge Knit gives us a wide variety of voices all mirroring the same love of literature, crafts, friendship, and creativity. It is an unlikely combination, but it works. You’ll have a long reading list and a long knitting/crafts list to work from when you’re done reading it. Highly recommended.
by Julie D. —Amazon Review
Great for the knitter/readers among us!—I’ve listened to Heather’s Craftlit podcast for a couple of years, and was definitely looking forward to this book. As part of her effort to compensate knitwear pattern designers fairly, she and Cooperative Press are embarking on a new model.
Many themed books on knitting are out there, but the links to literature are pretty slim in these volumes. Heather has a more ambitious agenda—to get us to care about classic literature, and the essays are clearly intended for us to be unable to withstand opening up one of these and sitting down for a good read…The patterns are lovely (although you’ll have to check out the wwmdfk.com website or Ravelry to see the actual garments), and I’ve knit one of them already, and plan to knit a couple of more at least. But the essays are the real unique part of this adventure in literature and knitting…this book is a great value, and supports the kind of publishing that allows the writers to benefit as well as the publishers and vendors!
by Mystery Fan —Amazon Review
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, because this is a book of knitting patterns inspired by classic literature. We have a cap for the Ancient Mariner, a möbius hood for the mad woman in the attic, and (knitting project of all knitting projects) Madame Defarge’s revolutionary shroud, encoded with secret messages. To state the obvious, this is a seriously cool book of patterns—one providing some much-needed inspiration for me to move beyond my namby pamby beginner knits toward the world of knitting charts, lace, cables, and secret codes.
WWMDfK is more than a collection of knitting patterns, though. It’s also a book of essays, as knitters contemplate the role of loneliness in Frankenstein, the binary opposition of good and evil in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the revolutionary-inspired blood-lust of Madame Defarge herself. Lest you assume essays appearing in a book of knitting patterns are probably for casual readers only, please note that the book’s first appendix is a concordance cross-referencing Jane Eyre’s need for a shawl with important turning points in the novel.
So this book is for the bookish, to help feed our text-inspired fiber-lust. The best of times, yes.
I have been a listener to Heather Ordover’s CraftLit podcast for years and am now beside myself with joy to finally have its first book! It is available as a download as well, and I recommend getting both the hard copy and the ebook, since there are digital extras only available in the latter.
This book is primarily made up of patterns for garments/accessories/crafts related to great works of literature that have been taught by Heather, an award-winning educator and mom, on her podcast. Each thematic section is fronted with a thoughtful essay by Heather, and each pattern is prefaced by a interesting and sometimes hilarious essay by the pattern designer about the book that they feature. The illustrations throughout are by the superb and inspired Jen Minnis, an artist of unusual variety and humor who captures the essence of the figures portrayed. Her Peter Pan puppet craft is worth the purchase price all by itself.
There are many books out there these days capitalizing on the latest flowering of yarn and fiber crafts, most of them following the clichéd a-group-of-people-with-different-problems-meets-to-blank-and-finds-enlightenment formula. If, however, you love knitting and crocheting and sate your book hunger in works like A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and The Scarlet Letter, this is the book for you. Bon appetít!
by Erin Spiker “Knitter and Dairy Goat Queen” —Amazon Review