That I’ve called this blogpost ‘Novels for Knitters’ doesn’t mean that I think knitters are a separate species that can’t read ‘ordinary’ novels. Not at all! All it means is that I’ve pulled a selection of novels from my bookcases in which knitting (wool, yarn, etc.) plays a central role. I’ve had a fun time looking through them and photographing them against a backdrop of some of my knits, and hope you’ll enjoy reading about them.
Let’s start with the one in the picture above. A cosy scene, isn’t it? A cat snoozing in a spot of sunlight, flowers along a windowsill, a stack of knitted sweaters, a basket filled with yarn, and a knitting project on the needles.
The basket looks like my basket of yarn, and the knitting looks like what I have on my needles at the moment, but it isn’t. You can see my knitting in the background. The cosy scene on the book cover is the window of A Good Yarn, a fictitious shop on Blossom Street in Seattle.
A Good Yarn (Dutch e-book title De Wolwinkel) is the second book in a series of thirteen (so far) by Debbie Macomber. I don’t own the entire series, but here are the eight that grace my bookshelves (in reading order from left to right and top to bottom):
In the first book, The Shop on Blossom Street (translated into Dutch as Breibabes), the shop and its sympathetic owner Lydia are introduced. Lydia hosts a knitting class for beginners, with a baby blanket as an easy first project. While the blankets grow, the story about the lives of the people taking part in the class unfolds.
The thread that binds these novels together is the setting, Blossom Street. Lydia is the main character in some, but not all of the books. The variation in protagonists, all with their own stories, makes for lively reading. They struggle with all kinds of things, but on the whole this is a feel-good series.
A nice bonus of these novels is that some of them contain a knitting pattern connected with the story. There are patterns for a baby blanket, a pair of socks, a lace shawl, and a cable scarf. The patterns get more difficult as the series progresses.
And here’s another novel centred around a yarn shop – The Friday Night Knitting Club (Dutch title De Vrijdagavond Vriendinnenclub).
This time it’s a shop in New York City, and the main character is a single mum with a teenage daughter. Again we read about a group of people knitting together. They start out as strangers and gradually become friends (a phenomenon I’ve experienced in my own life again and again.) Again a feel-good novel, although I secretly wiped away a tear or two as well. I know that there is a sequel, but haven’t read it. Have you? Is it worth reading?
The novels I’m writing about here, are all fairly light-hearted, but the next one’s the fluffiest of all – The Great Christmas Knit Off:
When her fiancé decides that he actually prefers her twin sister and, to make matters even worse, something goes terribly wrong at work, Sybil escapes to the countryside. Here a totally unrealistic story (seventy-five Ho-ho-ho Christmas sweaters to be knit within an incredibly short space of time) unfolds.
Okay, it’s a silly story. But reading a silly love story involving heaps of snow, a picture-postcard English village, lots of yarn and knitting, and the rescue of an ailing haberdashery shop can be very therapeutic.
The next novel, Casting Off, is slightly more serious.
Rebecca Moray travels to an island off the Irish coast, together with her daughter, to do research for a book on Irish knitting. She also hopes to forget her painful past by getting immersed in her research.
I read this novel years ago and don’t remember the story very well, nor whether I liked it or not. Leafing through it now, I notice that the chapter titles are derived from knitting stitches and are followed by a definition. Here’s the definition from the chapter entitled ‘Garter’:
‘Garter. 1. The simplest pattern, created by knitting or purling every row, never mixing the two. 2. Doing the same thing over and over again, making progress in time, but never moving forward in spirit.’
Intriguing. Time for a re-read, methinks.
And here’s a borrowed book that I’ve just started reading, Dying in the Wool:
It’s a mystery set in Yorkshire in 1922, about a millionaire gone missing. Kate Shackleton, a young widow with some experience in sleuthing, receives a letter from an old acquaintance asking her to look into this mysterious disappearance. The back cover says that in doing so ‘she opens cracks that some would kill to keep closed.’
I don’t know how wool comes into it yet, but I’m dying to find out!
There must be more knitting-themed novels around. Do you know of any good ones?