Merrilee Knits a Crayon Named Esteban and other Creations Inspired by Children’s Books


~post by Merrilee, Children’s Bookseller & Assistant IM & one of our many resident crafty folk

I suspect that knitting and children’s books don’t usually go together in the average person’s mind, but when you love them both as much as I do, it seems inevitable. I’ve worked here at BookPeople in the children’s section forever and been knitting for many years, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I made the leap and put the two together.

It all started when Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, was published. It’s about a small girl who finds a magic box of yarn that never runs out. Jon Klassen (whose work I love anyway) did the illustrations, and the knitter in me loves, loves, loves the look of actual knitting he used in them. Then Mac & Jon sponsored a contest: knit a sweater for the largest/most unusual thing in your store. I couldn’t let a challenge like that go unanswered, could I? So I consulted co-workers, both knitters and not, as well as our store management, and we decided to knit a giant sweater merrilee's sweaterfor the marquee sign above our front door. Technically we didn’t knit a sweater (it has no back), but it does have sleeves and a collar, and if you’ve ever wanted to see a 10 foot-wide almost-sweater, it’s on display in our craft section.

merrilee lesters dreadful sweaters staff cardThen a weird book called Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters came out. Written and illustrated by K.G. Campbell, is about a boy whose Cousin Clara moves in and knits him dreadful sweaters, each one more hideous and terrifying than the last, until he finds a way to get rid of them (and her) for good. I thought, “I really love this book — I should write a recommendation card for it. Oooh, and I should KNIT the card. And it should be dreadful.” So I did. And it was. (Note for you knitters out there: I knit it in the round on double-pointed needles. 15 of them!)

Which brings us up to a couple of weeks ago, when I special ordered a knitting book for myself: Huge and Huggable Mochimochi: 20 Supersized Patterns for Big Knitted Friends. All the patterns are cute — I mean, who doesn’t need a knitted cake slice as big as a two-year old? — but it was the pencil Merrilee's arthur knitted pencilthat really grabbed me. So I made my new friend Arthur. Because, you know, he writes.

Then I thought, “I bet I could modify this pattern to make knitted crayons for Kato (my niece’s baby) for Christmas, so he could learn his colors”. Then something truly exciting occurred to me: Drew Daywalt, author of The Day the Crayons Quit, is coming for a book signing for his new book, The Day the Crayons Came Home, also illustrated by the talented Oliver Jeffers. I should knit a GIANT crayon for him to sign for our kids section.

Merrilee's Esteban work-in-progress.
Merrilee’s Esteban work-in-progress.

Then Demi, our kids inventory manager suggested that I give the giant crayon to the author, so I just decided to knit two giant crayons, one to give to the author, one for him to sign for us. Nothing strange about that, right? (By the way, if you want people to think you’re weird, knit a 3 foot tall crayon on the bus.)

I’ve finished the first one, and I’m working on the second — Drew signed the work-in-progress crayon — but I’m also already looking forward to the next excuse to knit something else book related. Surely there’s another book out there that will demand I knit something huge or tiny or dreadful or bizarre. Stay tuned!

Come in to check out Merrilee’s handiwork! The finished signed knitted crayon should be on display in our kids section in the next week or so. We invite everyone to visit and take your photo with Esteban! Thanks to Drew Daywalt for a great event on Sunday, Sept. 13. We have signed copies of both The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home on our shelves. Call, come by, or shop online (put that you want a signed copy in the comment field when you check out) to get your copies. They make excellent holiday gifts for kids on your list. We ship worldwide!

You can follow Drew and Esteban via Twitter or Instagram as they continue the tour.

Photo from Drew Daywalt’s Instagram (@drewdaywalt). Drew & Esteban depart Austin. We hope that crayon gets to see more of the big wide world! Thanks for visiting BookPeople.

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