Book Review: Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood

30 Nov

I was given this book as a Christmas gift years ago. I’m embarrassed about how long it’s taken to read it. Nothing like a global pandemic to get you through the stack on your shelf, am I right?

Cover image via Amazon

Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting edited by Ann Hood

Summary from Amazon:

Why does knitting occupy a place in the hearts of so many writers? What’s so magical and transformative about yarn and needles? How does knitting help us get through life-changing events and inspire joy? In Knitting Yarns, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow. Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn. Elizabeth Berg writes about her frustration at failing to knit. Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting, writing about the scarf that knits together the women she’s loved and lost. Knitting a Christmas gift for his blind aunt helped Andre Dubus III knit an understanding with his girlfriend. Kaylie Jones finds the woman who used knitting to help raise her in France and heals old wounds. Sue Grafton writes about her passion for knitting. Also included are five original knitting patterns created by Helen Bingham.

Poignant, funny, and moving, Knitting Yarns is sure to delight knitting enthusiasts and lovers of literature alike.

I’ve posted before about knitting so most of you likely aren’t surprised that I’d be given a book about knitters writing. This was a fun gift and I’m really touched by the friend who gave it to me. There were several authors in here that I’ve read before including Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett. Most of the writers were new to me. I enjoyed the story by Taylor Polites so much that I added his novel to my TBR! I’m not usually a fan of collected short stories or essays but the short nature helped me while I was having trouble concentrating. 

I felt the writers portrayed their relationship with knitting in a very accurate way. Knitting is a very solitary act but it’s part of a community that grows as you want. The people you knit with are in it with you, but the people you knit for are the ones who really know you love them. I give knitted gifts a lot and it’s amazing to see how much that care and love affects people.

My favorite story in the collection was Knitting in Kathmandu by Jessi Hempel. It was such an emotional story about self-discovery and chance. I looked up Hempel’s biography in the back of the book and was sad to see she hadn’t published any novels. I really enjoyed her writing.

Ann Hood
Image via Amazon

Like many of the people in the story, I’m a ‘bad knitter.’ I make mostly blankets and other flat objects that don’t have to worry about double-pointed needles or measuring for fit. I want to make socks and a sweater eventually, but that seems far down the road now.

I was overwhelmed by the patterns in the book. I’m a bad knitter, these patterns seem overly complicated! I’ve only read a graph pattern once and it took me four tries to get it right. As nice as it is to have those patterns, I’m not sure I’ll ever use them. Even the one for the dog sweater.

A lot of these stories confirmed what I already know; knitting is something you do because you love. I make blankets for friends that I love, I’ve made coffee cozies for people I love, and I make scarves for people I want to stay warm through the winter. It seems I’m not alone.

Writer’s Takeaway: Some of the stories didn’t seem as put together as others and focused on unconnected bits of story rather than a single tale that involved knitting or did not. I found these harder to follow. It seemed that the writer was being included not because they had something meaningful to say, but because their name on the byline would help sell the book. I found that a bit disappointing. Many of the lesser-known authors had amazing tales to share.

I enjoyed this book and I’m thankful to the friend who bought it for me years ago. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts: 
Knitting Yarns | Flextiles 
Words on Knitting | Knit’n Needle 

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11 Responses to “Book Review: Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood”

  1. nickimags @ Secret Library Book Blog November 30, 2020 at 11:23 AM #

    Wonderful review Sam. I’m going to recommend this to my sister who’s always knitting!

    Like

    • Sam November 30, 2020 at 4:28 PM #

      I hope she enjoys it! This inspired me to grab up my needles. Happy reading!

      Like

  2. Sue's Musings November 30, 2020 at 12:44 PM #

    Thanks for bringing my attention to this, Sam. My Mum would/will love it!

    Like

    • Sam November 30, 2020 at 4:28 PM #

      Great! It’s a fun read for a knitter. Happy reading!

      Like

  3. SHARON TAYLOR November 30, 2020 at 3:46 PM #

    I’m strictly a flat knitter as well so can identify with the bad knitters. My favorite fictional knitter is Miss Marple who solves murders while knitting “wooly jumpers”

    Like

    • Sam November 30, 2020 at 4:29 PM #

      I need to learn to knit a wooly jumper haha. I’d love to have a sweater that I made. Happy reading!

      Like

  4. Laurel-Rain Snow December 2, 2020 at 10:03 AM #

    I have enjoyed several of the writers whose stories are in this book. My own experience with knitting: a huge fail. LOL. I loved the rhythm of it, but then when I had to put the sweater together, with seams, not so great.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Sam December 2, 2020 at 11:53 AM #

      I’m impressed you’re brave enough to try a sweater. I’m going to go with a sock next. Happy reading!

      Like

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