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Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,606 Ratings  ·  319 Reviews
A collection of poignant essays about the transformative power of knitting by twenty-seven extraordinary writers.

“The impressive collection of writers here have contributed essays that celebrate knitting and knitters. They share their knitting triumphs and disasters as well as their life triumphs and disasters…These essays will break your heart. They will have you laughing
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 11th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
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This isn't a book, it's a piece of crochet, haphazardly put together from random squares of indifferent colour combinations.

We may take a moral from it: no number of highly qualified birds does a swallow make.

This book has prize-winning and NYT best selling authors coming out of its what's it. But in the end it is that creature to be avoided at all costs, the one to which, ironically, knitting never descends: the crocheted blanket squares. The one everybody's grandmother made and 99% of the ti
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audible
I lost my best fur buddy on 6/11/15. I found that I could not work and I could not read. I didn't want to see anyone or talk to anyone. I didn't want to watch anything on TV.

But I could knit. And I could listen to this audiobook. Which is what I did for 2 days.

Knitting is therapeutic. A "prescription" to lower blood pressure in one story. And in the first essay by Ann Hood, it is what helps her with her grief over the death of her daughter.

These essays on knitting were just what I needed this
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I decided to review this book, I initially planned on doing a quick one-liner on each of the authors... since this is a collection of stories by different authors. After finishing the book, I decided to go a different way with my review.

I find that when I'm looking at reviews, I tend to read the short and/or bulleted reviews just to get the gist of what I'm getting myself into. I wanted to make, what I feel, is an important few points about the book... and not get those points lost in a lo
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads, knitting
I expected that in this book which features "writers" writing about knitting, that most or all would be writers who KNIT. That may have been the original concept but in fact the majority of the writers are failed knitters. That is disappointing for someone who is a knitter AND a reader. Also, I expected the writers to be names I knew, but in fact many were unknown to me, and a couple brand new, just published writers.

One common narrative that I disliked was a constant reference to knitting gran
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I was admittedly a little nervous when this book showed up in the mail (I won it through a Goodreads giveaway) and I found out that I'd somehow managed to miss the fact that it was a memoir instead of fiction like I had thought. Memoirs are one of those things that can either be really great, or be collection of 'I guess you had to be there' stories that are probably really great to people in the know (not being a knitter, I'm not in the know at ALL) but aren't that interesting to people who don ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I rarely give a book 4 stars, but I enjoyed this collection of essays that much - except for the one by Barbara Kingsolver. I quit reading her books years ago because her proselytizing annoys me. In her essay in this book, it is her turgid, dense, and unnecessarily obtuse language that annoys me.

Essays I particularly enjoyed:

Ann Hood's "ten things i learned from knitting," particularly the section on knitting groups (pp. 110-111). I too find great pleasure and support in knitting groups.

Beth Fuller
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Each essay is but a few pages - just long enough to get to know a writer, short enough to read during a 15 minute break at work. I loved that this book about knitters - and non-knitters - was not by the 'usual suspects'; instead these were familiar, and unfamiliar writers, there were successful knitters, there were unsuccessful knitters, and I loved each one. We could be friends, I thought more than once, we could share patterns and tips and embarrassing amounts of yarn stash; ...more
In many ways this is a delightful book for knitters. There are lots of "How I learned to knit from my dear grandmother or my tense Mother" pieces, but also a few interesting "Why I don't knit but love to watch others who do". Add in several "Why I believe feminists can knit" and one "Why I, a gay man, knit for my Chihuahua" and you get a sense of the range.

But I have to call out the introduction to one piece. ""A husband and wife form a couple; it takes the addition of children to create a fami
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, gift, knitting, aoma

Dear Reader,

I can say this with absolute certainty: this book would be a wonderful gift for a knitter in your life. How can I say this? Because it was gifted to me by my own sister (thanks, Bethany!)! It's funny, because I am not one to read knitting novels. Occasionally I will pick one up, but although the craft is a passion of mine, it's not something that is enhanced by reading books about knitting groups. Mostly because those tend to be "chick lit" - novels more about the lives
Anyone who has read more than one of my reviews before knows I'm a crafter and more specifically a knitter and crocheter, and anyone who follows my blog knows I try to review a wide variety of crafting books, so naturally I jumped at the chance.

There's a few similar books out there, a collection of short stories with the common theme of knitting in all the stories. The difference is this collection includes more famous people, like Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Grafton, and Anne Shayne (of Mason Dixon
Mollie *scoutrmom*
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Knitters and lovers of essays.
Shelves: knitting, non-fiction
This I find to have been by far the best of the anthologies on knitting writing that I have read, and I've read most of them.

The other books of essays were from people who are either amateurs, or make their living at knitting. Basically knitters writing about their knitting lives.

This one is from people who make their living at writing. Writers writing about their knitting lives.

My favorite entry was Taylor M. Polites story about knitting for his chihuahua. I can almost see the little critter p
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crochet
Knitting Yarns is a collection of essays from a diverse group of authors (some I knew; some I didn't) about knitting. That's the one unifying element between the essays: some read like short stories, although autobiographical; some are almost instructional, such as "how to teach a child to knit". A few reflect on the spiritual aspects of knitting and how that compares to writing and/or life. Those essays, in particular, remind me of Debbie Macomber's Knit Together.

The only thing I wish there ha
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book makes me want to pick up my knitting needles and start some project. It's a collage of authors, many of whom you've probably heard of, discussing how knitting affected their lives -- some in small ways, others in rather substantial ways. It's heartwarming and touching to hear these people talk about learning to knit at their grandmother's knee, watching a cherished aunt weave special items, turning to their stash of yarn to banish depression and hurt and more. I truly enjoyed it.
Maddly Peculiar
A collection of stories all centered around the timeless art of knitting. Some stories certainly spoke louder than others but all of them had something meaningful to say: knitting is the art of turning straw into gold. I personally love knitting, crafting a ball of yarn into a hat or a scarf or a rare pair of socks. It’s all so therapeutic and encouraging to know that I can create something good with my two little hands.
Isaiah Vianese
This likable and diverse collection of essays explores the many practical, therapeutic, and symbolic functions of knitting in people's lives. Knitting also works as a reflection of the individual writers' personalities--a comfort for the neurotic, a fixation for the perfectionist. The essays are fairly consistent in quality, making the book a pleasing read--especially for those interested in handcrafts. As a knitter, I found it comforting.
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, z-2013
While I am a knitter, I normally don't read books about the process or meaning of knitting. However, when I saw this book was being given away through the GR First Reads program I was interested and very pleased when I won a copy. The book consists of 26 essays and poems as well as 6 knitting patterns. The essays are organized in alphabetical order by the author's last name and are regularly interspersed by the patterns, which you can view (or purchase) on the designer's website.

Each of the writ
Literary Mama
From "Now Reading" by Literary Mama staff:

Literary Reflections Editor Andrea Lani raves, "I recently finished reading Knitting Yarns, a collection edited by Ann Hood that includes beautifully crafted essays by the likes of Barbara Kingsolver, Hope Edelman, and Andre Dubus III, among many other well-known and new-to-me authors. It is the best kind of anthology: a simple, single theme (knitting) that a wide range of writers riff on, all stitching together wildly different stories. There are storie
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it
This collection of stories comes off as very uneven. The tone at the beginning is incredibly depressing (some I know has cancer, so I knit,,,,.i knit because this awful thing happened to me....I don't knit, and here's why that's okay......) and slowly progresses to a couple of actual essays about knitting (though still fewer than you would think in a book of essays supposedly about knitting) and ends on a happier note.
The sad thing about this book is the lack of a point (knitting pun not intend
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Not mind-blowing, but pleasant. The quality of the essays corresponded more closely than I expected to the fame level of each author--I'd intended to discover some new writers, but found that my favorites were by Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Sue Grafton, and Ann Shayne (famous in Knitting World, maybe not so much for Muggles--though I hear her novel Bowling Avenue is good). (The exception to this is Taylor Polites, whose piece about living in New England and knitting for his Chihuahua is wo ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won an arc from a giveaway (thank you!)

I'll say that I nearly withdrew from the giveaway because I didn't think a book about other peoples knitting experiences would be all that interesting.

My favorites were the stories about how the different authors began to knit. I was genuinely surprised to read that many have difficulty with beginners knitting only because I picked it up rather quickly and effortlessly.

Knitting Yarns is a very enjoyable read. I also liked that there are patterns included
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pleasure-reading
Like many such collections, the essays here are really uneven. I also kind of wished the editor had arranged them thematically, rather than alphabetically. Some of them are laugh out loud funny, especially the ones about the misadventures of trying to learn to knit. I could relate to those. My favorite was the one by Barbara Kingsolver. Which surprised me a bit because I've been disappointed by the last couple of books she's written. But her ecological, cradle-to-grave awareness shines through h ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A dear friend gave this book to me as a Christmas gift two years ago. To say I savored it from cover to cover would be a major understatement. Good writing on knitting in the form of memoir is somewhat hard to come by and I knew the moment I picked this book up, it would be a gem. It did not disappoint. So many of my favorite novelists contributed their own knitting stories which made the book even more precious. I have no doubt I will reread these stories again and again.
A Hanukkah gift from my mom. There are a couple of really great essays in this collection (particularly Barbara Kingsolver's, which I think I read through without breathing), but honestly by the time I finished this I was DONE. Many of the essays started to feel repetitive, probably owing to the relatively homogeneous sample of knitters. That said, it was entertaining enough and makes me want to change the way I've been approaching knitting lately, so that's always a good take-away.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. There's a fellowship aming knitters and it was sheer bliss to read the various writers' accounts of how and why they've become committed to picking up the needles to relieve stress, grief, etc. Great writing, a few patterns. I only wish I could have been knitting while I was reading Knitting Yarns...
I was hoping to like this more than I did.

One of my issues is that I listened to it and there wasn't good narrator differentiation between the essays so they blended together a bit and I easily lost track of which writer was being read.

Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books -- some of my favorite writers on one of my favorite hobbies.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This book marries two of my very very favorite things--knitting and the personal essay. The icing on the cake was that several of the essays are written by well-beloved authors!
Marilyn Shea
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, a series of short essays on knitting by writers, was so inspiring, it sent me to the internet to search out yarn. I had more or less given up on knitting a while back after making knitted gifts for relatives with no feedback besides the bewildered initial thank yous. I also have several projects I've started and have no interest in finishing, but I puritanically required myself to finish those before even considering starting something new. So, encouraged by these knitting writers, I ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was handed on to me from a fellow knitter. It came at a good time and I truly enjoyed it!! My mom taught me to knit when I was probably a middle schooler (in those days, we called it Junior High!). She had knit several items for me, especially when I was pre-schooler. The one I remember most clearly was a cabled coat! Many years later I was able to have my own daughter wear it and it was an amazing treat. Some of the stories included in this collection are funny, some I relate to very ...more
Karen Hartley
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an avid knitter, I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Because the essays were from knitters, non-knitters, and failed knitters, it covered a wide spectrum. So there are essays that really spoke to me and ones that I didn't enjoy so much. I read all of them except for the Barbara Kingsolver - what was up with that? Some of the essays made me laugh out loud. Some made me cry. Some brought back wonderful memories of knitting with others or the epic failed sweater. The writer who likes to ...more
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Ravelry Knitters: June Group Read - Knitting Yarns 17 78 Jun 23, 2014 08:21AM  
  • The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting
  • Adventures in Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm
  • A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way through Love, Loss, and Laughter
  • The Knitter's Life List: To Do, To Know, To Explore, To Make
  • All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin
  • No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting
  • Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines: Patterns, Stories, Pictures, True Confessions, Tricky Bits, Whole New Worlds, and Familiar Ones, Too
  • Knit. Sock. Love.
  • The Principles of Knitting: Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting
  • More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts
  • Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art
  • A Knitter's Home Companion: A Heartwarming Collection of Stories, Patterns, and Recipes
  • Wendy Knits Lace: Essential Techniques and Patterns for Irresistible Everyday Lace
  • Sock Knitting Master Class: Innovative Techniques + Patterns from Top Designers
  • KnitLit the Third: We Spin More Yarns
  • KnitLit (too): Stories from Sheep to Shawl . . . and More Writing About Knitting
Ann Hood is the editor of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting and the bestselling author of The Book That Matters Most, The Knitting Circle, The Red Thread, Comfort, and An Italian Wife, among other works. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, a Best American Food Writing Award, a Best American Travel Writing Award, and the Paul Bowles Prize for Shor ...more
More about Ann Hood

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“Nothing can stop the words so well as the mute alphabet of knit and purl. The curl of your cupped hand scoops up long drinks of calm. The rhythm you find is from down inside, rocking cradle, heartbeat, ocean. Waves on a rockless shore.” 1 likes
“...I felt joined to all the men and women across cultures down through the ages who'd done something useful with their hands, who'd made essential things from whatever was in front of them.” 1 likes
More quotes…