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Knitting novels?

Knitters Inc.

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Edited: Sep 1, 2006, 3:41am Top

I read Anne Bartlett's novel Knitting a while ago - and I borrowed it so I don't have my own copy, but it was a great read. There is a good review here: http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue55/AnneBartlett.htm if you're interested. Does anyone have any other knitting related novels to recommend?

Sep 1, 2006, 8:45am Top

No, but it's a great idea, and the metaphorical possibilities are interesting.

Knitting appears several times in The Shipping News by Annie Proulx.

Doesn't Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood use quilt patterns to help structure her novel?

Been awhile since I read it, and I'm not sure if Grace makes the quilt or the quilt patterns are simply used to introduce different sections thematically.

Sep 1, 2006, 11:09am Top

I've heard great things about a book called At Knit's End - Meditations for women who knit too much by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, but I suppose you wouldn't call it a novel.

Sep 1, 2006, 12:29pm Top

Monica Ferris writes a mystery series based in a needlework shop in Minnesota. The heroine learns to knit in the first book Crewel World.

Sep 1, 2006, 4:23pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 1, 2006, 4:26pm Top

I recommend all the Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee books for knitters, although they're not fiction. Also Perri Klass. Debbie Macomber has written novels about a yarn store. One is called A Good Yarn.

Sep 25, 2006, 9:48pm Top

Maggie Sefton has a few knitting mysterys. They're easy to read, and not overly insulting to your intelligence. Well, the first one wasn't, the third one has some things that bug me. But its a fun read, and I want a yarn store just like the House of Lambspun. When you want to turn the brain off and bathe it in whodunnit and yarn, I'd reccomend this.

Sep 26, 2006, 9:27am Top

Isn't Agatha Christie's Miss Marple a knitter?

Oct 5, 2006, 3:40pm Top

If you like chicklit, then here's one you're sure to love: Wish upon a star by Olivia Goldsmith.
The heroine is a very nice girl, and a knitter. Her knitting is an important part of the story line.
I just finished it and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

10KathyO First Message
Edited: Oct 6, 2006, 5:56pm Top

Knitting is mentioned several times in Light on Snow by Anita Shreve. It is also a really good book.

Oct 8, 2006, 10:02pm Top

I just bought another one called Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik this weekend. I haven't started it yet, but it's about the members of a knitting group.

Oct 9, 2006, 3:41pm Top

There is a new novel that will be coming out in Jan 2007, I think.

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

After the sudden loss of her only child, Stella, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days, not knowing that it will change her life. Alice, Scarlet, Lulu, Beth, Harriet, and Ellen welcome Mary into their circle despite her reluctance to open her heart to them. Each woman teaches Mary a new knitting technique, and, as they do, they reveal to her their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually, through the hours they spend knitting and talking together, Mary is finally able to tell her own story of grief, and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again. By an "engrossing storyteller," this new novel once again "works its magic" (Sue Monk Kidd). From Amazon.com

Nov 14, 2006, 4:59pm Top

Knitting features prominently in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, but it's a bit of a sinister portrayal to please a fiber-arts crowd!

Also, Mrs. Ramsay is knitting a pair of stockings throughout the first half of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse.

Edited: Jan 17, 2007, 9:50pm Top

I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but I often think about Miss Patty and Maria in Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery whenever I'm knitting, the two old ladies who are always "knitting without haste and without rest," and who Anne and her friends imagined knitting in front of the Sphinx and the monuments of Europe. Maybe because those were such favorite books of mine as a child, but the image has definitely stuck with me.

15shafer First Message
Feb 8, 2007, 1:11pm Top

Like Miss Marple, Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver knits throughout all the mysteries she's in. Miss Silver isn't a Miss Marple knock-off, except for the knitting. Of course, back in the Golden Era knitting was a necessity to clothe people, particularly babies, so the common trait isn't significant.

16knittingfreak First Message
Feb 18, 2007, 2:55pm Top

I have recently read two "knitting" novels: The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber and The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. I really enjoyed both of them. Debbie Macomber has a sequel to The Shop on Blossom Street entitled A Good Yarn, which I plan on reading. As I mention in my profile, reading and knitting are two of my favorite things, and I love it when I can combine them.

Feb 21, 2007, 3:12pm Top

Outside of books on tape, I'm still trying to figure out a way to knit and read at the same time. :-~

Feb 22, 2007, 9:42am Top

#17, I agree. I have tried, but unfortunately it doesn't work very well!

Feb 27, 2007, 11:10am Top

The trick is to combine simple knitting (the body of a sweater, the leg of a sock, colorwork if you're good at it...) with a GOOD bookholder. I tried using a music stand for a while, and although it was nice in that the book didn't sit on my lap, it wasn't strong enough or the right size to keep sproingy paperbacks in place.

Now I have one of these that I bought at Powells. I love it! It works with all kinds of books, big to small, and it's easy to use one-handed.

The one caveat: don't get the plain wire version; get one with the color coating. Otherwise it will leave metallic smears on the pages.

Feb 27, 2007, 2:25pm Top

#19 Thanks!!! I will definitely be getting one of these!! I can't wait to use it. Man, I wish it were Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feb 28, 2007, 8:11am Top

I have one of those reading tables with a lip on the bottom that you can tilt down. I cobbled up two elastic bands that would fit over the table top and over the book margins.

Works good on library books (hardbacks), but paperbacks are a bitch because they're stiff and if you force them to stay open, they fall apart sometimes.

Thanks for the lead on the wire thingy.

You still have to stop knitting to turn the pages, though.

Feb 28, 2007, 3:08pm Top

You still have to stop knitting to turn the pages, though.

True, dat. It definitely works better when I'm working with single or dpns, instead of circs!

Mar 2, 2007, 8:06am Top

Maybe I could put blu-tac on one of my cat's paws and train him to turn the pages.


Yeah, and maybe someday my ex will call me up and tell me I was right about everything and he's so sorry he's going to join a monastery and do penance for the rest of his life so he won't need any more money and will be depositing his liquidated life's assets in my IRA by Monday morning.

I think I got a better chance with the cat.

24Jill_Chee First Message
Mar 10, 2007, 2:09pm Top

I really enjoyed Debbie Macomber's knit shop books. just finished The Shop on Blossom Street and A good Yarn. Charming stories about relationship among women. The first book brings together four very different women who have nothing in common, yet become friends during the course of a knitting class. Very interesting how these different lives intertwine over the course of the book. The books also have patterns (which I haven't tried yet) for a baby blanket in book 1 and sock in book 2.

Mar 11, 2007, 5:12pm Top

I enjoyed Friday Night Knitting Club and Knitting and The Knitting Circle is on my too read shelf. I haven't read any of the knitting mysteries and enjoyed The Shop on Blossom Street more than its sequel. Our library doesn' t have Knitting Under the Inflence but is pretty responsive to patron requests so I'd be interested in folks' reactions.

re: reading and knitting
loads of sympathy. I've tried, but end up putting the knitting down all the time to turn pages. I tend to knit while watching dvds instead

26oksner First Message
Edited: Mar 16, 2007, 9:08pm Top

I just finished Barbara Delinsky's Family Tree. The main character, Dana, has given birth to a noticeably bi-racial baby. Both Dana and her husband are Caucasian. Suspicions arise of Dana's fidelity, and her husband, Hugh, wants a DNA test. Whenever Dana feels stressed, she knits to calm herself, and that is quite often under the circumstances. Ellie Jo, her grandmother, owns a yarn shop where Dana often works and now goes to find comfort. Dana does not know her own father's heritage as her mother never told her who he was. Ellie Jo has a secret and refuses to discuss Dana's heritage. So Dana goes in search of her father and finds him, the DNA test on Hugh comes back, and all heck breaks loose. I picked up this book at Stitches West 2007 in Santa Clara last month, and being a genealogist and a knitter, it intrigued me.

Apr 29, 2007, 5:23pm Top

message # 23 -

LOL, nohrt4me!!! let me know how that works out for you! :

The only thing i could ever train my cat to do was not pee on my bed, and even then i'm not sure he ever properly got the message because he still marked the carpet on occasion.

May 2, 2007, 11:31am Top

Independent People by the Icelandic Nobel Laureate Halldor Laxness has great connections to knitting (The main character is a sheep rancher trying to earn his independence but the children all knit - the son and the daughter. There are desciptions of her making her knitted undergarments and the boy falling asleep knitting socks and being chided by his grandmother. It reminded me how ancient knitting is and a necessity for both men and women in a certain time.

However the pace of the novel is bucolic so be forewarned.


May 2, 2007, 2:12pm Top

Marensr, I love Laxness, I love knitting, I love Icelandic yarn! Less twist, felts better.

But I don't think knitting is all that ancient in Scandinavia, though they've done brilliant things with it.

One of my objections to Mel Gibson's "Hamlet" is that the characters wear sweaters, and knitting wasn't introduced in Denmark until after the time of the historical Hamlet.

The costumes are gorgeous, though, and won an Academy Award. I recently viewed the movie on DVD just to stop and zoom in on the textiles.

May 2, 2007, 5:43pm Top

Ah nohrt4me, I wasn't making any claims to the age of knitting or it's origins to either Scandinavia or Iceland- I was merely describing the quality the book evokes of a time when people knit their own underwear and when men knitting was a norm- in any country.

Sorry if that didn't seem clear to you from my post.

As to Hamlet there will be inevitable anachroisms in a production much less in a retelling of a violent Scandinavian story by a Renaissance master. Shakespear has clocks tolling in Julius Ceasar but it never bothered me.

I recently was at a play where someone was pretending to knit (very small theater) and it drove me crazy.

May 3, 2007, 4:13pm Top

gah! someone was "pretending to knit" in the theatre?? knitting needles as props. ugh.

were they in the audience or part of the play? either way, that would drive me crazy too. why not just try to learn how?

May 3, 2007, 4:32pm Top

Heh. The last two times I tried knitting at the theatre, I got chewed out. The first time someone in the audience was bothered (it was a theater in the round); the second time it was one of the actors who was distracted.

Humiliating! Mortifying!

(And I swear I was only knitting a sock, and trying to do it down low in my lap. I haven't knit at the theater since, which is sad, because it helped me concentrate, but if I do it again, the project will be something dark and tiny and simple, and I will sit several rows back behind someone large!)

On a more positive note, the one play I saw with knitting in it, the actress was truly knitting. Yay, her!

May 3, 2007, 6:53pm Top

Marensr, you are right! There are clocks in "Julius Caesar!" So I guess I can live with knitting in "Hamlet."

Speaking of people really knitting in performances (not audience), check out Monty Python sketches. Terry Jones really IS knitting in the sketches. He's knitting clumsily and quite badly, but I zoomed and slo-mo'd and he's really doing it. As a Jones fan, I'm dying to know how he learned.

May 4, 2007, 6:06pm Top

This was the actress in a Shaw play (Widower's Houses) who was clearly transferring the loops from one needle to another -she wasn't throwing her yarn. The sound designer told me the actress had knit the piece herself so he believed she was knitting but she was a beginner and I suspect she couldn't concentrate on both the knitting and her dialogue so she is forgiven for knitting her own prop.

It probably won't bother anyone but me.

I don't think I'd try knitting at the theater- Chicago theater spaces are just to intimate- and I like watching without distraction.

On a further tangental note I have noticed lots of actors learning to knit backstage- it is a great way to kill time. I fixed some knitting problems for fellow actors the last play I was in.

I'll have to ltry and find Jones knitting!

May 8, 2007, 12:46pm Top

Shakespeare is *totally* anachronistic, MUCH of the time. In college, my Shakespeare professor always had to emphasize that Renaissance readers/theatre-goers just didn't perceive things changing as time passed in the same way that we do now. I tried to write a paper that used the anachronistic bits in Edward's "mad" speeches in Lear to posit some significant "winks" at the audience (e.g., reminding them he's not really mad), but my professor nixed that bit of the essay, saying nobody involved would have been at all conscious of it. Oh well.

On a more knitting-related note, I've been re-reading L.M. Montgomery's Emily books (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest), and knitting/crocheting features in all of them. I especially enjoyed a scene wherein stern Aunt Elizabeth Murray expresses her frustration with Emily by knitting a sock with unwonted ferocity. :-)

Jun 23, 2007, 4:05pm Top

I am just about to start reading Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil - her latest novel. The blurb says the author is a knitter and the story involves the main character working in a wool shop. Light reading. Anyone else read this?

Jul 3, 2007, 4:15pm Top

I happened upon another novel that features knitting quite heavily: Independent People, by Icelandic author Halldor Laxness. It's a beautifully-drawn, if grim, picture of the insane independence and bare sustenance of the crofting life in the Icelandic countryside of the early 20th century, and (as you might expect, since these people go without food in order to feed their sheep), EVERYone knits - crones, little boys, men, women, everyone. I highly recommend this novel so far (I'm about halfway through it).

Jul 4, 2007, 12:27pm Top


That is so funny, if you look at #28 you'll see I was reading the same book. I didn't make it a touchstone I am afraid because I haven't bothered to figure that out yet.

I haven't met anyone who has read Halldor Laxness though. I thought it was a lovely book. The whole book is so evocative and the knitting descriptions are some of the best. I thought the passage in which the children are knitting and falling asleep because they are so hungry was one of the most vivid.

I'd love to know what you think of it.

I'm afraid I had to start a research project so I am about 2/3rds of the way through and it is sitting on my nightstand with a stack of other books.

Jul 5, 2007, 10:21am Top

I have just finished Diva's Don't Knit by Gil McNeil - entirely aimed at knitters - the story is woven around knitters and a wool shop - very light unchallenging reading but enjoyable

Jul 5, 2007, 11:57am Top

Oops! Guess I should have read the other posts more carefully. Cool to find another Laxness reader out there, though - I just discovered him & am LOVING the book. The language is so beautiful and, well...my family is Scots-Norwegian, so the stubborn, hard-as-nails Icelandic farmers seem familiar. :-) I'm only about halfway through it, but it's very enjoyable. I loved the passage where the little boy has "discovered" that the kitchen utensils come alive at night...

Jul 6, 2007, 10:37am Top

I'm mostly Danish with a little Welsh, English and French but I also had a Swedish-Norwegian step-grandmother so I am sort of Pan-Scandinavian but I found that I was understanding something about my Grandmothers in reading it.

I almost feel like the writing unfolds at the pace of that sort of agrarian-life, it ebbs and flows almost seasonally.

You might look at the Kristin Lavransdatter triology by Sigrid Undset when you are done- talk about stubborn Scandinavians -I am through most of the first book in that set as well- although I haven't encountered any knitting yet. . .

Jul 6, 2007, 10:47am Top

It's funny you should mention Kristin Lavransdattar, Marensr, because I've been eyeing a beautiful new edition of that trilogy at my local bookstore...I think this was just the encouragement I needed to go pick it up. ;-)

And I agree about the pace of the novel mirroring the agrarian lifestyle of the characters. I think it's quite masterfully done.

It's great when we can feel that ancestral understanding through novels; that's one aspect of what I like about knitting, as well.

Jul 6, 2007, 4:53pm Top

I have searched in vain for Welsh knitting patterns and have come up with a sock and a Monmouth cap. Both quite functional and nice. But not your Scandiknitting or Irish or even Dutch patterns.

Jul 13, 2007, 3:36pm Top

#42 If you are interested in Scandinavian books right now there is a fascinating book called An African in Greenland by Tete Michele Kpomassie that I read a few years back and loved. It is his memoir of his journey from Africa to Greenland in the 1950's it is a fascinating cross cultural study- it doesn't have any knitting in it though.

#43 I have a Welsh friend who comes from a long line of Sheep ranchers. I'll ask him next time I see him if there is anything he knows of in terms of Welsh knitting patterns available regionally.

Jul 13, 2007, 8:24pm Top

Thanks for the tip, Marensr! That sounds well worth checking out, despite lack of knitting. :)

Jul 25, 2007, 8:50pm Top

Surprisingly, Anne McCaffrey wrote a 1985 romance called Stitch in Snow about an American children's lit author who lives in Ireland (autobiographical?) who knits fisherman sweaters and sells them at a local shop. On a book tour in the U.S., she starts another sweater that is a constant thread in the book as she becomes involved in a pick-up relationship, a murder and a trial. Light but fun.

Edited: Jul 27, 2007, 1:04pm Top

New to this group, but Marensr recommended it so I decided to check it out again.

I'd just like to add my enthusiasm for Independent People. One of my favourite novels ever. My heritage is almost completely Scandinavian and I soooo recognised those people!

Oh, I am tearing up thinking about that book. It's awesome!

Hermione, Hagrid & Mrs. Weasley all knit in the Harry Potter books.

Jul 27, 2007, 3:12pm Top

Thanks for coming over littlegeek. I am glad you share enthusiasm for Independent People It is amazing that I have found 2 other people on LT who are fans and knitters- and Scandinavians.

Of course the HP books have good knitting references - in some other thread there was mention of the new Charmed Knits book which led to discussion of HP character crushes. You might have something to contribute there as well.

Jul 30, 2007, 10:43pm Top

Sann mentioned The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood. The book is my current read and I am really enjoying it. First of all I want to handle all the yarn that is described. But then I like hearing the stories of the members of the circles and how Mary is trying to deal with the death of her daughter.

Jul 30, 2007, 10:45pm Top

florahistora mentioned Stitch in Snow by Anne McCaffrey--I absolutely love that book--have read it several times. A nice romance/mystery between two not so young people.

Jul 31, 2007, 11:52am Top

I'm new to this group, also. For any YA or teen knitters out there, Chicks with Sticks (It's a Purl Thing) and the sequel Chicks with Sticks (Knit two Together) by Elizabeth Lenhard are both fun, funny reads....complete with patterns in the back!

Jul 31, 2007, 3:31pm Top

Welcome to the group MissLucinda, I saw a postcard for Chicks with Sticks at a knit shop. It looked like a clever idea.

53smallcoffey First Message
Aug 19, 2007, 9:38pm Top

About reading and knitting at the same time: Rose Wilder Lane wrote a book about American needlework. In it she says something about how the pioneer woman knit and read pausing only to turn the pages of her book. I'm guessing she and her mother Laura had that skill. I've tried, but make too many mistakes. Still would like to figure it out though!

54Pooch2 First Message
Oct 7, 2007, 7:45pm Top

I completed Died in the Wool by Mary Kruger just about 15 minutes ago. For cozy reading, this book is a well-written mystery without a see-through plot. A true who dunnit, the story held my interest and piqued my curiosity to the very last page!

Yes, I too knit and read.


Apr 18, 2008, 4:51pm Top

I'd like to join the Laxness /Scandinavian love fest. I have recently acquired World Light and Iceland's Bell but I haven't read them yet so I don't know about knitting content.

(The first time I tried to touchstone World Light, it came out with a reference to Light on Yogurt.)

Apr 18, 2008, 5:36pm Top

Hooray for the Laxness fans. I am curious about the Light on Yogurt book now ;)

Apr 18, 2008, 5:43pm Top

I read Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs and Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton. I enjoyed the Kate Jacobs novel the best of the two. It didnt' end the way I thought it would.

May 7, 2008, 2:43pm Top

Someone already mentioned a Tale of Two Cities, which is the best knitting book ever written. Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series, which are teen books but not bad, focus on spinning and other fiberart. If you aren't above reading children's book, the Secret of the Andes by Anne Nolan Clark and Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli are good. Conrad Richter's the Trees has a bit in it about spinning and weaving. Janet Transtad has a book called the Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches.

You have to knit and read together. Use the TV remote to hold your book open in your lap..... it's the only way mine gets any use anymore.

May 13, 2008, 1:38pm Top

I just finished Friday Night Knitting Club and really enjoyed it. Definitely recommended!

May 14, 2008, 9:16am Top

# 57, #59 - I have that on hold at the library, I think I'm around fourth. I have been waiting a while. I hope it is worth the wait.

May 15, 2008, 3:09pm Top

I just picked up a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's, Things I learned from knitting. I can't wait to read it. I have all her other books. We have had her as a guest speaker at our Guild meeting a few times. She's wonderful in person too.

Jun 21, 2008, 2:52am Top

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Jun 21, 2008, 2:58am Top

Chicks with Sticks is a great read; although aimed at young adults, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hmm... I can't get the Touchstone to load.

Oct 5, 2009, 2:02pm Top

Casting Off by ((Nicole Dickerson))--just finished. It's about an anthropologist who goes to one of the Aran Islands to write about the history of all the sweaters. One of her college roommates at Berkeley is from there. In reality the anthropologist is healed by all of the wonderful people on the island. Each chapter starts with a different stitch.

Oct 13, 2009, 10:46pm Top

Re Chickw With Sticks -- Maybe the first book is better -- I read the second Chicks With Sticks book (K2tog) and found it highly annoying. But could be that's just me. I've never had a time in my life when I would have liked to read about a girl agonizing for 100 pages about getting a boyfriend and another 100 pages about having a boyfriend. I mean, when I was in high school I did not have a boyfriend and the last thing I would have enjoyed was a book nagging on how somebody's life was so unbearable because she needed somebody to "swap spit" with (that inelegant expression is from the book).

The CWS kids are fairly unbelievable knitters for their age. At 15 I could certainly knit and read simultaneously (at 16 I studied for a university exam and knit a cabled v-neck sweater for my little sister simultaneously -- I got an A in the course but no longer remember its subject -- I remember the sweater vividly) but designing lace like the girls did in k2tog? yowch.

I love, LOVE, all Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books that I have read so far. They are imaginative non-fiction, but frequently they are so imaginative that they blur the line between fiction and non-fiction.

Oct 14, 2009, 11:26am Top

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is on my TBR list. The hero knits a chain to help save the princesses and the book includes a pattern at the end.

Oct 14, 2009, 11:39am Top

try large print books, they stay open well and can be read from further away. I have not tried yet but i think a music stand to hold a book would help too.

I used to knit and read using hard copy quite a lot, now I use DVD's more and of course books on tape. I think that I could knit and read from a computer screen or kindle too.

Oct 20, 2009, 1:01am Top

I love when knitting gets mentioned in a book that I wouldn't expect to find it in. Two of my favorites for having done that are The Shining by Stephen King, which mentions that Wendy is knitting at one point; the other is Whip It or Derby Girl by Shauna Cross. The main character Bliss mentions trying to lean to knit and becomes friends with a woman named Helen who is an avid knitter.

Nov 21, 2010, 11:15am Top

Just had to be the first 2010 entry here. Couldn't resist it!
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a favorite of mine too. I met her briefly at a reading she gave in a local bookstore. She is very funny.
I also enjoyed Kate Jacobs' Friday Night Knitting Club. Accordingly I jumped on to e-bay, purchased two more of her books and intend purchasing a third before Christmas. Collecting authors is a sickness of mine. I am hoping that the Friday Night Club stories are as enjoyable as the first one.

Jan 14, 2011, 8:29pm Top

I loved this one too! Barbara Delinsky lives near me and was signing books at a local craft fair. I told her how much I enjoyed it

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