Knitting Yarns: A Passion for Knitting

There's a wonderful new book out that brings the wonders of knitting to life. Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting features true stories by beloved authors such as Jane Smiley, Anita Shreve, and Ann Patchett. It's edited by Ann Hood, who wrote the popular novel The Knitting Circle.

Knitting Yarns, edited by Anne Hood

In Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, the magic of knitting is captured in black and white, through tales of tragedy, acceptance, and love. From Anne LeClaire coping with not being able to conceive, to how the craft calms Elissa Schapell's frantic worry, to Hood's own nightmare of living on after her daughter's death, Knitting Yarns is a testament to the power of craft to sustain us through human survival and triumph alike.

Five unique knitting patterns by knitting guru Helen Bingham are nestled between twenty-seven original essays by bestselling authors like Barabara Kingslover (The Poisonwood Bible), Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog), Sue Grafton (D is for Deadbeat), and Anita Shreve (The Pilot's Wife) are.

Here are a few of the wonderful tales included in Knitting Yarns:

A perfectionist to the core, Bernadette Murphy learns that with knitting, mistakes can turn into successes. After her mother's passing, she moves in with her older aunt in Dublin. To get to know each other, her Auntie Peggy suggests that they knit. Peggie teaches her the right way, the pristine way. Years later, after being asked to teach knitting at a baby shower, her friend reveals Murphy's challenge: letting mistakes happen and understanding that mistakes help us grow into resilient people.

To Sue Grafton, perfection isn't the goal. She believes the object of knitting is to complete a project without having to apologize. Providing ten tips on how to teach knitting, Grafton advocates for a willingness to admit mistakes, physical closeness, and humility.

Knitting women become a hurtful sight to Anne D. LeClaire. She spends hours in the waiting room of her OB/GYN for fertility tests, surrounded by pregnant knitters. Unable to conceive, she and her husband embark on the lengthy process of adoption. During her sister's pregnancy, she asks her mother to show her how to knit a baby blanket. Half a year later, their adoptive daughter, Hope, is born.

Nothing can ease Elissa Schapell's nerves. Tense during yoga, Schapell takes up knitting after her doctor's ultimatum to lower her blood pressure. As a new knitter, Schapell begins noticing Sisters of the Needle everywhere. Within two weeks, she loosens up, and as if taking medication, her blood pressure lowers.

When John Dufresne attempts to take up the needles for fun, he finds his clumsiness with knots too overwhelming. Seeking instruction online, a Google search for knitting blogs turns up 38,300,000 results. Dufresne stumbles upon finger knitting, a safe method for children. After some practice, he knits a scarf that doubles as a catnip toy for his cat, Django.

Andre Dubus III is irritated by his trust-fund girlfriend's knitting. He sees it as a domestic art prior to the freedoms of feminism—something for people who watched life rather than participated in it. But while thinking of a handmade Christmas gift for his hard-of-sight aunt, he realizes that a soft scarf is the perfect way to show her how much he loves her.

Whether knitting dishrags or dog sweaters, unwinding with knitting can become an addiction. Many knitters don't go anywhere without their supply, and they can't break the habit. And non-knitters don't want them to, Elizabeth Searle observes, as being around a knitter is like being "hooked up to an IV of peacefulness."

Both knitters and non-knitters alike find serenity in the clicking of needles, the fuzzy array of colors and textures, the artistry of creating something with their own hands. The rhythmic practice has kept us warm for centuries. Loops of anger, anxiety, and despair are hushed with wool. Stitch by stitch, the power of knitting teaches us to live in the moment.

This wonderful book is sure to delight the knitters on your gift list! I know I'd love to receive it, and I'll bet you would, too. Knitting Yarns would also be fun for your knitting group to read and discuss!

I think I'll treat myself to Knitting Yarns; I know I'll enjoy it during the holidays when I need a little escape.


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