My latest knitting project comes from the pages of The Adventures of Miss Flitt by Beth Hahn. The Adventures, a four-part series, combines a work of fiction alongside knitwear patterns inspired by or tied to the tale and its characters. Hahn admits to taking liberties with the history of nineteenth century New York, where her tale is set, but her approach lends an interesting fantasy-like element as the plot unfolds in small doses over the course of four volumes. The sweater I’m working on, Gretel, is a pullover from the final part in the series. But I had to ignore the tale accompanying the patterns in this volume until I could get back to Knitty City to buy the first three parts. I’ve now done so, and my reading is complete (though the sweater is not).
While pondering The Adventures, and while also reading The Mongoliad, a serialized tale created and distributed online to subscribers one or two chapters at a time (at least at first; a print edition is in the works), I’ve become more curious about how this experience of reading–dominated by the fact that one cannot read as much or as quickly as one might want–would have been the norm if I were a nineteenth century reader, when so much popular fiction was published serially.
At my Library we have a tremendous collection of nineteenth century books in parts, and they are fascinating artifacts of their time (with intriguing ads like this one for Icelandic Moss Cocoa). But for now, I’m back to consuming entire novels in short sprints. Even my Gretel sweater has just moved from the “in parts” stage–in which body and arms were knitted separately from the bottom up–to the point of being now a single volume project, with just the yoke to go.