Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Harry Potter and the Return of Knitting

I don't know about you, but once I started reading Harry Potter, I was hooked. Now I wait for the movies. J.K. Rowling has something new!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling Available for Pre-Order
Thursday, July 31, 2008.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling is now available for pre-order on Amazon. This book of fairy tales was written to supplement the Harry Potter series and will be published in two new editions on December 4, 2008. The Standard Edition features all five fairy tales from the original The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a new introduction by J.K. Rowling, illustrations reproduced from the original handcrafted book, and commentary on each of the tales by Professor Albus Dumbledore. Amazon’s exclusive Collector's Edition includes a reproduction of J.K. Rowling's handwritten introduction, as well as 10 additional illustrations not found in the Standard Edition.

It is my belief that the Harry Potter books and movies contributed to making knitting popular again. Prior to them, hardly anyone knitted anymore and when you looked for yarn, there was little choice.

In the early 90s, I remember being in a class for docents at the historic site where I worked. The lecturer asked the class, mostly retired women over 65 and me (43 at the time), how many knitted. Two people raised their hands out of around 30. I was surprised. I thought surely these older women knew how. My mother tried it once and dropped it. Bless her heart, she did start with a very difficult pattern and small needles.

In the 70s, knitting declined except for crafts people. You were lucky if you could find anything but acrylic worsted weight yarn in more than 6 colors in most shops. Then Harry Potter came out and Mrs. Weasley who was always making "jumpers" scarves and hats for her kids and Harry; plus the needles that knitted by magic (wish I had those) and soon we were awash in hundreds of colors and textures.

I predicted that after everyone had made 3 scarves for everyone they knew, the whole thing would die down again. Which it has. It's one thing to make a scarf, quite another to make a sweater. Most people don't have the patience it requires and most people are not willing to redo it multiple times until they get it right.

When Harry Potter first came out, there was a lot of conrovery about it. Even here in Northern California - supposedly the land of fruits and nuts - some schools banned it. Can you imagine?

On the other hand, I visited Salt Lake City, Utah a couple of years ago and heard a local teacher being interview on the radio. He said that he used Harry Potter as a motivational force in his classes. Kids took a renewed interest in all subjects that were taught at Hogwarts. While kids did not show any interest in Chemistry, they were fascinated by Potion-making. Kids who had poor penmanship and didn't want to write by hand anymore, really got into Calligraphy. Botany became Herbology, etc., etc. There was an article in the local newspaper about how teachers were successfully using Harry Potter in schools just like this guy on the radio. Clever and innovative.

I was a bit surprised at this reaction to HP in Salt Lake City, while at home the debate was still going on as to whether HP was 'evil' and 'dangerous to young minds.'

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