Vickie Howell, "Craft Corps"

Vickie Howell, "Craft Corps"

Vickie Howell is one of the true superstars of the knitting world, although it's interesting to gauge reactions to her within the knitting community.  "Unfortunately" Howell has chosen a mass-market route to fame, from a cable television show about knitting to a line of affordable yarns with Caron that are sold through what the knitterati sniffily call "big box craft stores."

But I'll tell you what, "Knitty Gritty" was a great show, and Howell was a great host, and I'm sad that it was canceled.  (It was always ridiculously hard to find on my cable system anyway.  The DIY Network shared channel space with HGTV, so "Knitty Gritty" aired at weird times like 6AM Sunday mornings.)  Howell is a knitting cheerleader in the best possible sense, bringing instruction and help to knitters with her trademark warmth and cheer.

"Craft Corps" is her latest book, and it's an interesting departure for Howell.   Instead of talking about crafts, in this book she talks ABOUT crafts, if you follow me.  The book is a collection of interviews with crafters, both famous and regular folks.  She has big interviews with big-name crafters, from Mary Engelbreit to Amy Butler, about how they got to where they are, and what it's like there.

The interview style is a little choppy, in that Howell asks each subject the same series of questions.  This leads to a certain sameness across the interviews, although her questions are pretty good as far as interview questions go.  "What is your first craft-related memory?" is one that comes to mind.  That's an evocative question, and any crafter - anyone, really; crafty or not - is going to have a great answer.

I was a big Mary Engelbreit fan when I was a little girl, and I was most interested in reading her interview.  As an adult, I admire Engelbreit for finding a great way to make a living from drawing.  Which, let's face it, is a pretty impressive trick.  I was a little taken aback when she demurred on Howell's question, "how do you think the perception of women in the creative industries has changed over the past 30 years?"  That was a pretty good question, and if anyone is qualified to answer it, it's Mary Engelbreit.  But she didn't, and Howell let it slide, and I was a little sad.

I had literal difficulty reading this book, because about a third of the pages hadn't been cut by the printing company, and were still attached together at the bottom.  Since it was a library book I had checked out, I didn't want to be the one to tear the pages apart.  If it had been one page, sure, I'd have busted out the X-acto knife.  But a hundred?  No way.  

So I'm sad to say that I ended up reading only bits and pieces of each interview, because peering through the pages was just too much effort.  (I did my civic duty and informed the librarian when I returned it.  He said "they can fix that downstairs," at which I pictured a cloistered group of book-fixing monks locked in a dimly-lit cellar.)