Knithoard, Claire CrowtherCream jacket, black text all centred. Title at the top in large-ish caps, an inch below name of author in italics. A large image of a skein of wool with knitting needles stuck through it at angles to make a cross. Tiny caps name of publisher centred at the bottom.

HappenStance Press, 2019   £5.00


Knithoard is such a good name for this sequence of poems! It’s strange how, as a lover of knitting and poetry, it’s only now I realise the connection between both creative arts — to write a poem is to knit words together. And, patterns of various kinds are an essential part of both.

I was slow to notice a particular pattern in Knithoard, that of form, how the two italicised lines that lead into each poem are the first and last lines of the poems, binding the poems and the whole together, bringing strong endings. In ‘Tension’ this pattern begins:

My tension
fully matches the gauge.

This turns out to be not quite right. There’s an attractive refusal to completely conform to the demands of the (knitting) pattern in the poem. Patterns of repetition draw attention:

When I won’t switch needles,
I screw up the pattern.
But no swatch
fully matches the gauge.

There’s also a kind of non-conformity in ‘A Fit of Difference’ — not through choice, but in the very human one-size-doesn’t-fit-all way:

nor do my measurements match
the superficial categories:
man, woman, child

The preceding lines (‘None of these patterns calls for / my body’) made me think of a ewe, the yearly giving up of her fleece, the sustainability of it. I keep returning to this poem. I like uncertainty sometimes, my not-knowing. I’m still thinking about it. Maybe it’s about both....

Another poem which draws me back is about fit and ‘ease’ (‘The Autocratic Jacket’), but it may be also about a refusal to be bound?

‘A Winter View of the Ness’ begins with a pledge (poems may be ‘abandoned’ too!):

I will finish abandoned garments, cast off all
my Fair Isle.

There’s a turn towards place (‘our neighbouring ness’) through the use of a simile which enables a play on words at the end, where the pattern of repetition draws me from (my) lingering thoughts of intricate Fair Isle patterns towards the beauty of simplicity: 

The snow will shrink its own
patterns to show
my fair isle.

Enid Lee