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Follow the Yarn: The Knitting Wit and Wisdom of Ann Sokolowski, by Reba Linker

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Follow the Yarn: The Knitting Wit & Wisdom of Ann Sokolowski by Reba Linker is more than a knitting book. It’s a journey through a life-changing episode in Reba Linker’s life, disguised as a simple knitting class. This book-within-a-book starts out telling how Reba, at the urgings of her friend Chaya, took a local learn-to-knit class at the Central Queens Y in New York. There, she met Ann Sokolowksi, who was the instructor. A retired teacher, Ann was no cupcake; she didn’t sweet talk her students, guide their hands or even show them her knitting technique. Instead, she said, “Etch this on your eyeballs!” when there was something that was a really important bit. 

This book is filled to the gunnels with twenty-three chapters of knitting wisdom from Ann, including how to care for knitted garments, yarns and tools (“Beware of crapola!”), increasing and decreasing, basic stitches - garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing, seed and moss stitches, and the like. This is not a pattern book. While you will find a couple really basic ‘patterns’ for things in it, it is far more. In that way, it is a little bit like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears -- to Elizabeth, and Ann, knitting was much more than a hobby. It was a way of thinking, of living. Ann didn’t need to teach knitting at the Y; she did it because she couldn’t NOT do it.

Communication was everything to Ann, and she communicated knitting topics, but she also imparted a great deal of wisdom about everything, about life itself. She made a gift of her time and energy freely, to everybody. It wasn’t for everybody, but those who stayed surely got a lot more than knitting instruction from Ann. She was a remarkable woman in a time when women were just starting to begin making choices that now are considered normal. A single woman, she adopted a baby in another country, the first time anyone had done that. She was a brave woman, a self-confident woman.

This self-confidence was imparted to Reba Linker who, through Ann and through knitting, helped find her own way through some family troubles that she had never dealt with. Ann had a gift of seeing the good in people, dealing with them on an even level of repect and acceptance, and it was this feeling that Reba sought and found.

Follow The Yarn is 194 pages, and it costs $19.95. Beginning knitters will find much there, and experienced knitters will enjoy learning about Ann’s life. Ann had a lot to teach us all. 

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