Booksmith hosts an evening with Alanna Okun, in conversation with Joe Wadlington about her new book The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting. Please join us!
Every knitter knows that as soon as you start making your boyfriend a sweater, he will be out the door before you’re done. But as Alanna Okun has learned, these life lessons are not limited to the curse of the boyfriend sweater.
Like millions of women, Okun finds joy and solace in crafting. And she has also found some essential truths. Starting from when her grandmother first taught her to knit, crafting has been a part of her life, and her family’s. Some people like to fish. Some like to play music. Or run. Okun likes to make things; knitting, crocheting, sewing, decoupage -- you name it, Okun has tried it, and even if she turned out to be not very good at it, she found it was good for her.
In a world that shows itself impervious to our need for order and logic, crafting allows Okun to feel a sense of control -- even if it’s simply by making a piece of felt do what she wants it to. Crafting has helped keep her severe anxiety at bay, made a scary first apartment more hospitable, and helped her heal from a broken heart. When Okun has two good friends die within a year of each other, it is crafting that helps her find hope again. The art and physicality of making things, whether it's nerdy embroidery or warm mittens, has helped her cope with life's internal trauma.
In beautiful prose that belies her youth, Okun's essays about art, crafts, and mental health will resonate with creative people no matter their medium, and no matter the troubles in their hearts. We can all relate to the need to fix what's inside by keeping our hands busy.
Alanna Okun is a writer, editor, and crafter. She's currently a senior editor at Racked, and has written for publications including BuzzFeed, Brooklyn Magazine, and The Hairpin, and appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, and many other local and national television and radio programs. Alanna lives in Brooklyn with her pet snail and a lot of yarn.
Joe Wadlington has been published in the New Yorker, The Rumpus, Racked.com, and Food & Wine Magazine. He writes essays and satire about dating, casual dining, and how to be polite during both of them. Joe is a crafter and former camp counselor who has educated hundreds of kids on how to felt, bead, and tye-dye. You can follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his weekly writing prompts.