Monday, March 5, 2012


‘Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.’
Elizabeth Zimmermann

I've never done a book review on my blog, but then I've never been as compelled to do one as I am now.

What you already know about me is that I knit shawls; what you may not know is that I've wanted to knit an Elizabeth Zimmerman 'Pi' shawl for about three years now -- I've just been waiting for the 'right' pattern to come into my life, and I knew that I'd know when it had (now there's some awkward English for ya)!

So several weeks ago, I was hanging out on the wonderful time-suck which is; my routine is to check out all the 'latest published' shawl patterns each evening. The very first one I saw that particular evening was this one:
It's a Pi shawl. It's called The Lighthouse Shawl. It's stunning. It's in shades of blue. Hello???

So just before I clicked the 'BUY IT NOW' button, I glanced up the page to see who the designer was. I'd never heard of Lonna Cunningham, so I clicked on her 'profile' on Ravelry to read more about her. Her two-paragraph profile had me hooked as it was: she lives with her second husband and teenage son on a small farm in central Alberta (not far from where I grew up); she spins and knits; she's a bit of a 'homesteader,' and very creative.

And then I discovered that this pattern is published in her new book, called 'Just Keep Knitting: a journey of healing through forgiveness, faith and fibre.'

I'm all about forgiveness, faith and fibre, so, as you can imagine, I had to read on.

To make a long story short (ha!) I sent off a private message to Lonna, and that began a bit of a correspondence that's lasted until now. As a writer, editor and knitter (and, as you know, a person who's had to do some healing herself, recently, too!) I offered to do a 'test read' of the manuscript prior to publication, so Lonna sent me an e-copy.

Folks, I read this book cover-to-cover in one sitting -- I haven't had that experience in years!

In Just Keep Knitting, Lonna tells her story, starting from being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder about a year ago. She takes the reader back to meeting and marrying her first husband in the early 90's, and then forward through the interim years, during which she loses first an infant daughter, and then her husband (in a horrific manner, and with horrific twists and turns along the way). Each chapter ends with her reflections on the ways she worked toward forgiveness (for herself and others), the faith that saw her through it all (Cunningham is a Quaker, but the thoughts and meditations are universal and non-offensive, in my opinion, whatever your beliefs. They're also pretty insightful.)

And, of course, every knitter knows the therapeutic benefits of knitting, and Lonnie is no exception. Each chapter contains a knitting pattern (all but one designed specifically by the author) relevant to that part of her healing journey , seven in all, and even Cunningham's descriptions call you to them:

- "a comfy wrap with pockets to ward off the chills of grief;
- a diamond lace scarf to wear for strength and courage in difficult situations; and
- a soft pillow to call to mind a sense of home and safety."

This is an amazing story of human resilience and courage - and, yes, of faith, forgiveness and fibre. In one of my circles, we refer often to "dealing with life on life's terms, not ours," and that's exactly what Lonnie has done, and continues to do. I can barely imagine going through what this woman has gone through -- and I truly can't imagine going through it without knitting. In her own words...

"It is my hope that the story of my past, combined with the reflections on forgiveness, faith and fibre (knitting is indeed a healing art) will shine a light of hope so that perhaps, someday, there might be just enough light for someone else to find a way out of the dark."

I hope you'll check out Lonna's full story on her website at Apple Jack Creek, or on her blog here; but mostly, I hope you'll consider buying her book (in either paperback or ebook form) here. You'll be supporting a fellow knitter who understands that to JUST KEEP KNITTING is key, and you'll get some great patterns, too! And it would be a bonus, if you're a knitting blogger, if you'd give it a mention or a link on your blog, too.

(I've ordered the yarn I'll be using for the Lighthouse Shawl ... unfortunately it went to our old address in Victoria, so I have to go collect it this week. I'll keep you posted on my progress!)


Grace said...

when the book is available I will buy it and the shawl design is lovely, I enjoy knitting circular shawls Tom just doesn't enjoy blocking them!

Terri said...

I just finished reading this book, and although I don't knit, it is a worth while read even for us non knitters. Lonna is an amazing woman and I am so glad that she found writing and knitting as a creative, healing outlet.

Louisa said...

Thanks so much for your review, Marilyn! I've just purchased the ebook and am looking forward to reading Lonna's story. Through this I've discovered not only another good blogger, but Smashwords as a source for ebooks. Win-win-win!

Extra win: there's a 50% discount code available through March 10 at Smashwords.

Linda said...

That does look like an awesome shawl. Thanks for the book tip, I'll check it out.

Yikes, I see you have word verification now, sure hope I get it right the first time as I have a terrible time figuring it out.

Unknown said...

Hi Skipper! I'm so glad you found the Lighthouse Shawl, found the book, and found me ... now we just have to hope that you find your yarn, because I can't wait to see the shawl you knit. :)

Thank you so much for your support and the wonderful review of Just Keep Knitting. I'm glad the book spoke to you.

I'll be watching for your project to show up on Rav! :)

jb said...

rnaThanks for a thoughtful review of a book that is well worth the read.