Friday, February 13, 2009

The Knit Would Still be Hers: Chicks With Sticks (Knit Two Together) by Elizabeth Lenhard

knit2together She decided if she couldn't fight the angst, she might as well join it in the blogosphere. She plopped herself into her desk chair, opened her laptop, and began surfing. She hit a few of her usuals: the American in Paris who always bragged about the antique knitting needles and precious Euro-yarn she found romantic flea markets; the Indiana spinning guru with the grotesquely fat cat (pictured daily); the comic artist who catalogued her life in daily stick drawings...

Oh La La had spent the previous afternoon finishing a delicate bolero jacket in a chic cafe. The spin guru had had a birthday party and photographed her cat in a goofy party hat. The comic artist drew and ice cream outing and called it Simple Pleasures.

So unsatisfying, Scottie complained in her sleepy mind...Is it too much to ask for just one broken heart?

Oh, Ms. Lenhard, you know us bloggers too well.

In Chicks With Sticks (Knit Two Together), Scottie's gone boy-crazy and it's driving the Chicks up a wall. When a cute artsy boy from NYC moves into her building, she can't believe her luck--not to mention the plum opportunity when his fashion-designer mom commissions knitted lace for her eccentric creations. While they bond over crazy artist moms and their even crazier private school, sugary snacks and classic films, the Chicks unravel boy issues of their own. Amanda's formerly nerdy-cute college boyfriend is turning into a major dumbass, Bella's sworn off dudes--and finds herself swarmed by them. And Tay? Her nice guy John is suddenly Clingy McClingerson, down to joining their stitch'n'bitch. Will the Chicks survive Yarncon, debutant training, utterly grody non-frat frat parties, secret blogs, the blissful highs and nauseating lows of teenage lurve? Course they will! The fun is reading about it.

Next to my blogging buds Carey and Lisa, Elizabeth Lenhard is the person I'd want to show me around Chicago; she does for the Windy City what Francesca Lia Block's done for Los Angeles. Scottie's narration highlights little details others would miss: odd statues, a perfect day atop bread-factory-come-artist's-loft, the prerequisites of an indie coffee shop, and the sights and smells of YarnCon:

Scottie couldn't stop gasping in delight as they began strolling through the fray...At the next tent were jars of adorable stitch markers snazzed up with glass beads, tiny rubber animals, and fuzzy pom-pom creatures--as cute as candy.

There were giant displays of knitting bags, books, needles, and themed T-shirts. People strode around, nibbling chicken satay skewered on knitting needles and giant cookies iced to look like yarn balls. There were gray-haired ladies wearing cardigans, middle-aged mom types, and other teenagers in knitted tanks, badass ribbed wristbands, and bits of yarn woven into their hair.

I enjoyed becoming better acquainted  with the chicks. Amanda's vulnerable side counters her perfect-girl veneer, and it gives her a certain gravitas that makes what could be a totally annoying character really sweet and likeable. Likewise, I adored seeing Bella cut loose and get angry; even manic pixie dream girls can go nuts and avenge their friends every once in a while. Tay continues to be a shining beacon to hetero gender-nonconformists. I think it's great that Lenhard wrote a butchy straight girl with an endearing tender side; some people forget that gender obscurism is open to all shades of the spectrum. Scottie's lovahboy Beck seems like a decent kid, and I really sympathized with his desire to make interesting friends and have a life outside the boyfriend-girlfriend thing.  His love scenes with Scottie are the stuff of teenage dreams: breakfast picnics, nights at an arthouse theater, and smooching in the elevator. He's cute. He can stay.

It took a second reading for this novel to agree with me; initially I was slightly annoyed with all the boy-craziness. Maybe it's the season, or maybe I realized that if I had gone to one of the Seven Sisters instead of Big Catholic East Coast Library School, I would have done just as much pining over anyone with cute hair and a nose ring.  I could totally relate to Scottie's all-encompassing crushy obsession, but also appreciated the words of wisdom from Amanda's punky, free-forming mentor Regan:

"I've seen this happen a million times. A girl falls in love for the first time and loses it. She forgets about her friends. She becomes all about him. What's he's interested in. What he wants to do. Where he wants to go and when he wants to go there. And when the inevitable break-up happens--because what else can such an intense relationship do but crash and burn?--the girl's left all alone. Take my advice, girlfriend. Don't let it happen to you."

Lesson for the day? Boys come and girls go, but your art and your heart are what matter in the end--so treat 'em right. For knitting nuts and teen-nostalgia-seekers, Chicks With Sticks (Knit Two Together) is a fab addition to your shelves.

*Elizabeth Lenhard's website has lots of cool extras for CWS fans. Here's a fun excerpt posted to her blog, with cupcakes and novelty yarn in


*Unsatisfied with the shades on your Local Yarn Stores's shelves? Dye your own with Kool-Aid and revel in the fruity scent and chemically-enhanced colors.

*Gooseflesh crochets wunderkammer-worthy sea life from pre-loved wool and plastic bags.

*I plugged MochiMochi's free patterns in the last post, but her main blog is great, too--posts about other handicrafts and the best of cute and subversive stuffed things, like Bittersweet's Kiwi.

*These vegan knitty cupcakes help me make the blogger's weekly cupcake quota.

*Though I usually shy from linking retail sites, I can't resist passing off COLORBOMB Creation's etsy shop. They have a great sense of humor--yarns named Poop de Peeps and Cheesy Poofs--and sweet kits for embellishing your own handspun. Follow the proprietress's yarn adventures at Velma's World.

*This is a chick wearing a knitted cuff. It is too cute for words.


carey said...

oh, i'm loving your chicks reviews. and you do need to come to chicago sometime so that lisa and i can show you around. :)

Lisa said...

Hee, totally. I know next to zip about yarn, but I know all the good places to eat! (Especially ice cream, pizza, and vegetarian.)

carey said...

it's true, she does.

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