Knitting and Books
Knitting and books; it’s a match made in heaven. Or at least my living room. I knit kind of a lot. I also read more than a little (insert obsessively here). That means that I am frequently knitting while listening to audiobooks. But what about knitting in books?
The most famous knitting character in literature is probably Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities, knitting the names of Madame le Guillotine’s victims. Pity her or hate her, she leaves an impression. Penguin even chose her knitting as the most iconic image from the book for their recent cloth bound edition of Dicken’s work. There is even an entire series of knitting books called What Would Madame Defarge Knit? The projects are surprisingly un-bloodthirsty.
In a similar vein, but with much more sympathetic characters, there is The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. This fantasy novel takes place just after the Napoleonic Wars and is a sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia, which is a splendid epistolary novel. Think Jane Austen with magic. In The Grand Tour, Kate and Cecelia are traveling with their new husbands on a honeymoon journey. They stumble across mysterious doings almost as soon as they land in France. One of their traveling companions teaches them all a form of knitted code used during the French Revolution so that they may communicate safely.
The knitting itself is full of flaws and inclusions such as twigs, dried plants, and feathers. Each dropped stitch or tiny inclusion alters the code in some way. There is a very cool website called String Geekery that has lots of ideas about how to embed codes in your knitting or other textile arts. This shawl is called the Secret Code of the Librarians and has a knitted code based on Dewey Decimal numbers.
There are lots of other books that have knitting in them or are based entirely around knitting. Goodreads has an entire list of knitting novels. There are series set in knitting stores like the Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber, or Maggie Sefton’s knitting mysteries. Kate Jacob’s Friday Night Knitting Club was one of the first huge knitting novels when it came out in 2007.
Then there are the children’s books. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett is a particularly adorable one. Here is the book trailer if you’d like to look at it.
Oliver Jeffers has knitting in his book, The Hueys in: The New Sweater.
Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski is another especially adorable book featuring a knitting lamb.
There are plenty of other books that have to do with textiles: Crewel by Gennifer Alban is a dystopia in which the protagonist can weave time and matter together. Anahita’s Woven Riddle by Meghan Sayres is a really cool merging of Penelope’s tapestry from The Odyssey and the fairytale tradition of setting one’s suitors with riddles or tasks. I also like this book especially because it’s set in the middle east, which is not an area touched on all that much in the books I read.
There are book series based around needlepoint, crochet, and quilting too. Books and textiles. They just go together.