Book Review: The Year Of Knots By Windy Chien
There are a few thoughts that can instantly bring a smile to my face. The first of course is the idea that somewhere out there Keanu Reeves and I are looking up at the same moon. The second is the knowledge that one day someone realized that if they tied point A to point B they could make magic and then they decided to share that idea with those around them. Whenever I get stumped on a stitch I take a step back and remind myself that at the end of the day it’s just a series of knots.
ABRAMS Books has been a major supporter of the blog from the beginning. In one of our email exchanges, probably after growing tired of my shameless begging, they asked me to make a list of books I would like to review. It felt like I was in my very own romantic comedy… except instead of being taken to Tiffany’s they had offered me the craft books of my dreams. There were a few obvious choices. But one unexpected choice stood out to me right away. The Year Of Knots by Windy Chien. I’ve been a big fan of Windy’s work for a while now. Stumbling across her page on Instagram as all of my deepest fiber crushes began. But I had been a fan in the same way I’m a fan of Anni Albers or Yayoi Kusama. I love it, but I’m not going to attempt to make it myself.
The idea that I could potentially cross that invisible barrier and make even the tiniest piece from the mind of Windy Chien was too good to pass up. However, when the box arrived and I had the opportunity to try one of her projects I felt deeply intimidated. Somehow it didn’t feel like just a series of knots anymore. I moved on to other books on my list but this one was always in the back of my mind.
Until one day last weekend. Have you ever had one of those days when you just feel like you need something to do with your hands? I was having one of those days when I finally decided to bite the bullet and attempt Windy’s projects.
I knew that starting with a big project would be a bad idea for me. I needed a win to get me started. My first project was called the Bryr Button. I chose it because even though it’s shown as an applique on shoes I thought that it would make a beautiful pair of earrings.
My first attempt didn’t turn out perfectly but there’s a certain beauty in failing. That thing that I had been dreading for months happened and it wasn’t the end of the world. Knots can be undone and starting over is always an option. My second attempt was a success and I went into the third with much more confidence. I attached earring hooks onto the rope and then hand sewed a felt backing onto the back of the earrings to secure everything in place. Windy says that her knots don’t fail and while I completely believe her my confidence in my own knots is still not there.
For my second project, I was feeling MUCH braver. I decided to make the Square Knot Dog Leash. Do I have a dog… no, but I want one (and I can tell you I will definitely get one now). Windy’s instructions are clear and the photos in this book are not only gorgeous they are impeccably detailed. You could probably figure out each step just by looking at the images. Don’t do that though. The written instructions explain steps that I hadn’t even thought to think about.
There’s a special place your mind goes when working on a rhythmic project. Your brain can turn off.. or maybe that’s when it truly turns on and you’re able to let your body do the work. I was skeptical for the majority of this project. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how it would end and how the handle was made. The whole project I felt a little distracted by my overthinking. When I finally made it to that part in the project and read how it was done I swear my brain exploded. It’s so simple and elegant and I never would have thought of that myself. So if I can give you one piece of advice when trying these projects I would say to just let go of control and try to trust that the queen of knots knows more than you on this one. I wish I had known that from the beginning.
I found myself walking away from my project with only a few inches to go. I told myself it was because I was tired but that wasn’t the truth. I just didn’t want it to end.
The next day I came back to it. My need to check this off my bucket list overpowered my need to keep the project going. Besides, now that I know I can do it I have some hanging lights to make. I can not recommend this book enough. Not only is the maker behind it an incredibly talented maker of color it’s also just a stunning book filled with projects that will push you and inspire you to do more than you think you’re capable of. It will push you outside of your comfort zone and for that, it’s worth it. Thank you Windy for realizing that when you tie point A to point B you can create magic.
You can find out more about her book through her website and make sure to ask for it at your local craft shop!