Book Review: She Makes Hats

she makes hats

About twweeks ago a brand new Raveler with no avatar, posts, projects, favorites, or any other info contacted me asking me to do a book review. I was skeptical at first, but after looking into the publisher, Asymmetrical Press, they do appear to be a legitimate (if small) company.

 

I agreed to take on the project, figuring that even with all the other things going on right now I would still be able to finish the book some time in March. Jesse from Asymmetrical sent me a copy of the e-book, and within a week I began to read She Makes Hats, by Robyn Devine. Off the bat I found Robyn’s writing style very conversational and personal, which I do tend to like. I enjoy stories where you really get a feel for the personality of a narrator, and she definitely comes off as a pretty typical 30-something.

 

Although she does start off by talking about learning to knit, this is definitely much more the story of Robyn’s 20s and 30s than it is a story about a knitting project. It’s not what I expected when I started, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Throughout the book, Robyn uses knitting a a sort of personal therapy while dealing with the challenges in her life. A lot of us do this, myself included, and I’ve definitely noticed it as a theme in other knitting books too. I checked out her website while I was reading and her other published book is a collection (with other authors) of life advice, so this seems in keeping with her established style.

The blurb I received before reading this book mentioned an effort to knit 10,000 hats for charities around the world. Robyn also mentions a decision in her early knitting days to knit 100 hats. As I read, I kept interpreting each mention of knitting or of a personal challenge in her life as build-up to the great 10,000 hats project. Eventually, she begins to talk about how knitting for newborns brings meaning to her life, and I thought, this is it! It’s going to be 10,000 hats for newborns! Imagine my surprise, then, when I turned the page and…nothing. That was the end of the book. It literally did not take me two days to finish this book because it is that short. I was baffled. So much build up and there’s not even an ending? It can’t be done yet! How does the project turn out? How did the project even begin? Is there not an organized project? I was so confused.

I guess I should’ve been paying attention to the percentage count in the corner of my Kindle. The shortness of the book and its abrupt ending probably shouldn’t have been as big a surprise as they were. Nonetheless, it made what started out as a light, enjoyable personal narrative into a disconcerting lack of a story. I was left unsatisfied and a bit lost. The fact that this story wasn’t what I originally thought it would be doesn’t really bother me, but the fact that it wasn’t any of the other things it could’ve been either does. It’s not a book about a knitting project, it’s not a book about knitting in general, it’s not a book about a personal journey or a great accomplishment, and it’s not a biography. I guess I just don’t understand what this book is.

 

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13 responses to this post.

  1. I agree … though by the time I was done reading and reviewing it, I saw it as a “look at me” project. I remember going to a party where the host (a practicing psychologist), greeted guests and gave us each a copy of her new book. It was a “look at me” moment.

    Reply

    • Oh man, that must have been awkward. I teach 10 year olds, so I’m well familiar with “look at me!” but it’s really just a whole different ballpark with adults!

      Reply

  2. Good for you for writing an honest review!! And kind of you to take the time to do it..

    Reply

  3. I am so glad that you reviewed this book. I have followed Robyn as she grew from 100 hats to 10,000 charity items. She has inspired me to give away dozens, if not 100, hats. But I wondered what the book would be – her story of how she got to this place of giving things away? The results? What makes a good blog does not make a good book, I guess. Yet I think there is a story there, that could inspire others to live a more charitable life. It is too bad she missed it.

    Reply

    • I feel like there’s probably a good story there too, which is why I kept reading so eagerly up til the abrupt end. Maybe I should check out the blog.

      Reply

      • it’s mostly about hats. 🙂 but do check it out, she does a good job talking about the charities she knits for and counting the hats, sharing patterns, etc.

  4. I must say you have beautiful, beautiful hair! also, I only read fantasy lit, so that book would never interest me, but now I doubly will stay away 🙂

    Reply

  5. It’s so great to read an honest review of a knitting related book! While I love the supportiveness of the knitting world, very often the “if you have nothing to gush about don’t say anything” attitude annoys me. There is a real need for honest reviews of knitting books (on patterns, techniques, anything!), good to see you’re doing that!

    Reply

    • I do believe that honest does not equal mean, and I try to stay as nice as possible on the blog. But I’m not going to shy away from saying something is not for me either. Just like honesty doesn’t have to be mean, niceness doesn’t have to include lying.

      Reply

  6. Hmmm…I hadn’t read that book but I did hear about it. I have visited the site as well, briefly before (I was on a lunch break at school, shhhh 🙂 ). I could only read a couple posts and I felt that it was really commendable what she was doing. Stinks that the book didn’t live up to the potential for you. Well, I hope in the end it’s a problem with the printing and not a problem with the actual writing…It could be such an inspiring feat with the right telling of it.

    Reply

    • I keep hearing such great things about her blog. I really do want to work my way through it from the start so I can figure out the story that just wasn’t there in the book!

      Reply

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