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"Spin, Twirl, Twist" Reading List


The exhibition "Spin, Twirl, Twist," at Idea Exchange Preston from September 7 to November 21, 2021, features works by Margaret Ballantyne, Mylène Boisvert, Marianne Burlew, Lyn Carter, Susan Warner Keene, Sylvia Kind, Barbara Todd, and Mindy Yan Miller.

In Greek mythology, one’s life is predetermined by three sisters, collectively known as the Fates, who sit “spinning, twirling and twisting the threads of our destinies.” While our destinies may not actually be tied to a thread, fibres and textiles are found everywhere—from the commonplace to the unconventional.

The works in this exhibition, selected from Cambridge Art Galleries’ permanent collection of contemporary Canadian fibre art, offer a reflection on the impact and influence of textiles on our lives. Like the Fates, each artist in this exhibition has spun, twirled, and twisted their own stories exploring textiles in relation to the human condition, relationships, identity, the familiar, and the hidden.

Read on for books from Idea Exchange's collection that explore some of the same themes.

Adlington, Lucy .
Dressmakers of Auschwitz: the True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive

A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.

Join author Lucy Adlington in a virtual author event November 10, 2021 at 7pm.

Hood, Ann
The knitting circle

Grieving over the sudden loss of her only child, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, whose members not only teach her a variety of knitting techniques but also valuable lessons about friendship, love and redemption.

May, Rachel
An American quilt

Following the trail left by an unfinished quilt, this illuminating saga examines slavery from the cotton fields of the South to the textile mills of New England--and the humanity behind it. May brilliantly stitches together the often-silenced legacy of slavery by revealing the lives of urban enslaved women and their world. Beautifully written and richly imagined, An American Quilt is a luminous historical examination and an appreciation of a craft that provides such a tactile connection to the past.

Chiaverini, Jennifer.
The quilter's apprentice

The Quilter's Apprentice tells a timeless tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness as two women weave the disparate pieces of their lives into a bountiful and harmonious whole.

Robson, Jennifer
The gown

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

Chevalier, Tracy.
The Lady and the Unicorn

Bewitching art experts and enthusiasts alike for centuries, the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries hang today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. In each, an elegant lady and a unicorn stand or sit on an island of grass surrounded by a rich background of animals and flowers. Little is known about them except that they were woven toward the end of the fifteenth century and bear the coat of arms of a wealthy family from Lyons.Tracy Chevalier takes readers back to the tapestries' creation, giving life to the men who designed and made them, as well as the wives, daughters, and servants who exercised subtle (and not so subtle) influences over their men.

Jacobs, Kate
The Friday Night Knitting Club

A charming and moving novel about female friendship and the experiences that knit us together-even when we least expect it. Walker and Daughter is Georgia Walker's little yarn shop, tucked into a quiet storefront on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The Friday Night Knitting Club was started by some of Georgia's regulars, who gather once a week to work on their latest projects and to chat-and occasionally clash-over their stories of love, life, and everything in between.

Wiggs, Susan.
The goodbye quilt

Linda and her daughter, Molly, decide to share one last adventure together before her daughter leaves for school -- a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm. As they wend their way through the heart of the country, Linda stitches together the scraps that make up Molly's young life. And in the quilting of each bit of fabric -- the hem of a christening gown, a snippet from a Halloween costume -- Linda discovers that the memories of a shared journey can come together in a way that will keep them both warm in the years to come.

Barbieri, Heather Doran
The lace makers of Glenmara

In an effort to recover from heartbreak, Kate Robinson returns to her ancestral homeland in Ireland where she develops a bond with members of a local lace-making society.

Gilman, Phoebe
Something from nothing

In this retelling of a traditional Jewish folktale, Joseph's baby blanket is transformed into ever smaller items as he grows until there is nothing left--but then Joseph has an idea.

Shrimpton, Sarah
Modern crochet bible

The Modern Crochet Bible is the definitive guide to all the crochet techniques and stitches necessary to create stunning contemporary crochet projects.

Thiessen, Hannah.
Slow knitting

Like the "slow food" movement, Slow Knitting encourages knitters to step back, pare down, and celebrate the craftsmanship of their work. In five chapters centered around the tenets of slow knit­ting--sourcing carefully, making thoughtfully, thinking environmentally, experimenting fearlessly, and exploring openly--Hannah Thiessen challenges knitters of all skill levels to view their practice in a new way.

Hubert, Margaret.
Lacework for adventurous crocheters

This step-by-step technique reference introduces and thoroughly explores several styles of crochet that produce lacy fabric. With Lacework for Adventurous Crocheters, you'll delve into many exciting methods.