An Introduction to Knitting-Themed Novels (Knit Lit Fiction Books)
With the ever growing interest in knitting as a popular craft, it's not surprising that another industry had grown too: knitting-themed fiction books, otherwise known as knit lit. There are a number of popular writers in this genre and hundreds of books available. Although these novels are geared towards knitters, you don't have to be one to enjoy knit lit books. Knitting just provides the backdrop for the plots of these books. And if you are a knitter, great because most of these books also include free knitting patterns!
This is an introduction to the types of knit lit books available and a list of some of the best authors and titles. Most of the knit lit novels fall into a few major categories. I've broken these books down into four main groups:
The Knitting Group as Support System
Some of the most popular knit lit books fall into this category: collection of women come together in a knitting group. They seem to have nothing in common but knitting, yet each woman has her own problems and issues. Through the support of the knitting group, they overcome their differences and create a strong bond of friendship.
Three of the best known authors of this genre are Kate Jacobs, Debbie Macomber and Ann Hood.
Kate Jacobs is the author of The Friday Night Knitting Club series. There are three books (so far) in this series: The Friday Night Knitting Club, Knit Two, and Knit the Season. These books center around Georgia, her knitting shop, and the eclectic group of women who gather for her knitting circle. I like these novels, and the backdrop of New York City offers an interesting big city feel to these books.
Debbie Macomber is well-known in the knitting world for her knitting magazines, patterns, and yarn brand. But she is best known as a novelist and author of the Blossom Street series. This heart-warming series follows Lydia Hoffman as she opens her new yarn store after recovering from cancer. There, she offers knitting classes that brings together an odd group of women, each with their own struggles. These books are comforting stories and remind me of the Cobbled Court Quilt books by Marie Bostwick.
Ann Hood is the author of The Knitting Circle. Inspired by the loss of Hood's own child, The Knitting Circle follows Mary Baxter's attempt to overcome her depression after her daughter's sudden death by joining a knitting group. At first, she is hesitant to share her story with the other knitters. Slowly her gets to know each member and finds they understand her sorrow and pain, and can offer her hope and support. The Knitting Circle is also being made into an HBO movie, starring Katherine Heigl as the lead character Mary Baxter.
Women Finding Their Own Way in the World by Opening a Yarn Store
Another common plot line in knit lit books are women whose lives have been destroyed by personal disaster, but want to start over again by opening a yarn store. Although there is a lot of overlap with the "knitting group" genre mentioned above, the books in this category focus more on one main character and her struggles to start a new life for herself.
Two of my favorite authors of this genre are Terri Dulong (the Cedar Key series) and Gil McNeil (the Beach Street Knitting Society series).
Terri Dulong started her Cedar Key series with the book, Spinning Forward. This knit lit novel features Sydney Webster, whose husband has died and left her broke and homeless. Sydney picks up the pieces of her life, and her spinning wheel, and moves in with a friend in Cedar Key, Florida. Once there, she develops a new circle of friends and creates a new business for her handspun yarn. Dulong continues Sydney's charming story in Casting About and three other novels.
The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club is the first book in Gil McNeil's knitting series. This humorous novel is part Bridget Jones's Diary and part how-to manual for starting your own business. After her husband's devastating confession, Jo Mackenzie moves with her young sons to the seaside to take over her grandmother's floundering yarn shop. Hard work, stress, and romance soon follow. Jo and her family's ongoing adventures are featured in the sequels Needles and Pearls, and Knit One, Purl One. I really enjoy this series, but suggest that you read these novels in order because McNeil does not offer much of a backstory in the latter books.
Knitting mysteries combine two things I love: knitting and reading mystery novels. And I think that mysteries are some of the most interesting books in the knit lit genre.
There are a number of well-known series of knitting mysteries, but three of my favorites are: the Black Sheep Knitting series by Anne Canadeo, the Seaside Knitters series by Sally Goldenbaum, and Mary Kruger's knitting series.
Anne Canadeo's Black Sheep Knitters are a group of women who first meet in While My Pretty One Knits. Although these women each have hectic personal lives, they always make time for their weekly knitting group at Maggie's yarn shop. When the owner of the other yarn store in town is killed and Maggie is a suspect, the Black Sheep Knitters come to Maggie's aid and investigate the murder to clear her name. You would think that this experience would turn them off knitting, but their needles keep purling away and more murders follow in Canadeo's other knitting mysteries.
Sally Goldenbaum's Seaside Knitters series features a similar group of women that meet at the Seaside Yarn Studio each week for knitting, gossip, and good food. Although these women all have different personalities and lifestyles, they have formed a close-knit friendship. When their cozy small town is rocked by murder, the women bond together over skeins of yarn and snacks to solve the mystery. These books, starting with Death by Cashmere, feature an interesting community of women. I love to imagine sitting and kniting with them, and being part of their adventures.
Mary Kruger offers more light-hearted knitting mysteries. Yarn store owner Ariadne Evans just wants to run her business and live a simple life after her divorce. Sadly for her, murder seems to follow her wherever she goes - starting with her own shop in Died in the Wool. The mysteries continue with Knit Fast, Die Young, when Ariadne visits a local wool and yarn festival. Although these books might not keep you up all night wondering who did it, they are an easy and enjoyable read.
Other Knit Lit Novels
As I said, there are hundreds of knit lit books available, and not all of them fit completely in one of the categories above.
Rachael Herron is the author of the Cypress Hollow Yarn series. Part romance and part suspense, the series begins with How to Knit a Love Song, where we meet Abigail who has just inherited a piece of property from her friend. But when she arrives to set up shop, she finds Cade MacArthur already living there. This upsets Abigail's plan to open a yarn studio, but a scary stalker doesn't help either.
Herron's knitting novel series continue with more romances featuring other characters in Cypress Hallow: How to Knit a Heart Back Home and Wishes and Stitches.
Robyn Harding's Unravelled offers an interesting twist on the knit group theme. Lead character Beth Carruthers is thrilled to have made some new friends through her knit group. But when her love life heats up too, her new romance threatens to tear apart her knitting circle.
If witches, vampires, spells and stitches are more your taste, then you might enjoy Barbara Bretton's Sugar Maple Chronicles. In her first book of the series, Casting Spells, yarn store owner Chloe Hobb has her hands full running her shop, looking for romance, and hiding the fact that she's a sorcerer's daughter. A murder in town and a handsome investigating detective, might be more than Chloe can handle - but then again, maybe not? The Sugar Maple series and Chloe's search for romance continue with Laced with Magic, Spun by Sorcery, and Spells & Stitches.
This is just a basic introduction to the many knit lit books that are available. I hope you have found something you might enjoy reading!