Knit Lit

This is a compilation of books with knitting as a theme or major subplot. This will not be a listing of knitting reference books. My lord, that would be too long, need to be constantly updated and, well, Amazon can do that better than me.  All of these are pretty much available on Amazon and maybe I’ll put the Amazon links up in the future. I really recommend checking out the Audible selections as it is so much easier to listen and knit! Any other suggestions to add to my listing? Please comment below or send suggestions to hami.monoATyahoo.com (change the AT to fool the spambots). Thanks.

The core of this list was first compiled and marked up into HTML by Lynn Ruggles. It has been maintained since (1999) by Julie Ourom, with HTML by Emily Way. Please visit the original site. Woolworks, in order to get lots of other great information, patterns, techniques, classes, and much more!  I have added many more to this list and updated it.

General Fiction 

  • Art Work, A.S. Byatt-Knitting plays a major role. 
  • At Home in Mitford (from the Mitford Years series), Jan Karon-The first in a series depicting everyday life in a small North Carolina town. Knitting is described at one point as a comfort to the soul.
  • Bag of Bones, Stephen King-The hero’s wife is a knitter.
  • Cheerfulness Breaks In, Angela M. Thirkell-Plus other titles including The Brandons, High Rising, Marling Hall. Each of her books contains at least one knitting reference, often more.
  • Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier- Describes a sweater knit of unwashed fleece. 
  • Coming Down from Wa, Audrey Thomas- Knitting at an African girls’ school in the 1960s. 
  • Coming Home, Rosamunde Pilcher- England during WWII with mention of Red Cross knitting. 
  • Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett- A young woman’s life in a New England seaside village, based on a diary from the late 1800s, with knitting references. 
  • The cure for Death by Lightning, Gail Anderson-Dargatz,- Mention of wartime sock knitting.
  • Death and the Oxford Box, Veronica Smallwood- Features knitting as one of the book’s themes. 
  • Fall On Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald- Brief mention of sock knitting for the war effort.
  • The Fever Tree and Other Stories, Ruth Rendell- “A Needle for the Devil” is densely packed with knitting.
  • The Friday Night Knitting Club, Kate Jacobs- Wounded women bond and heal over knitting in the central character’s yarn store.
  • Green Dolphin Street, Elizabeth Goudge- Knitting.
  • High Island Blues, Ann Cleves- Very brief mention of knitting. 
  • Independent People, Haldor Laxness, trans. J. A. Thompson – 1946 Nobel-prize winner, mentions Icelandic knitting.
  • Jacob’s Room, Virginia Woolf- Full of knitting references.
  • The Knitting Circle. Ann Hood- Knitting as grieving.
  • Knitting: A Novel, Ann Bartlet- Characters knit to understand a death. 
  • Lambs of God, Marele Day- Spinning and knitting in a cloistered religious community. 
  • The Last Continent, Terry Pratchett- Knitting that doesn’t fit is discussed in this novel set in Australia.
  • The Last Resort, Alison Lurie- Knitting mentions, including Kaffe Fassett sweater.
  • London Transports, Maeve Binchy- Includes an enlightened knitter.
  • The Man Who Loved Childen, Christina Stead – Knitting is a part of the characters’ lives. 
  • The Matisse Stories, A.S. Byatt – One of the stories is about someone obsessed with knitting.
  • McNally’s Gamble, Lawrence Sanders- The main character’s mother is portrayed as a ditzy knitter. 
  • The Miss Read series, Miss Read- Many mentions of ladies’ knitting, both good and bad (knitting, not the ladies!). 
  • Mister Sandman, Barbara Gowdy- Entertaining knitting scenes.
  • Odd Woman, Gail Godwin- Knitting and recycling. 
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen- Knitting for charity and as an amusement.
  • Plain Jane, Joan Barfoot- Main character is a knitter and book is full of knitting mentions, particularly sweaters she’s knitting for a friend in prison.
  • Random Passage, Bernice Morgan- Mentions of knitting with rags in Newfoundland.
  • Roman Fever and Other Stories, Edith Wharton- A daughter’s views of her mother’s knitting. 
  • The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx- Lots of knitting references.
  • Small Ceremonies, Carol Shields- A mystery is created around a quantity of yarn found in a character’s husband’s desk drawer…since no one in the family knits.
  • Some Tame Gazelle, Barbara Pym- Many mentions of knitting as a part of ordinary life in her earlier books; fewer in the later ones. 
  • Staggerford, Jon Hassler- Knitting and small town life. 
  • Storm Tide, Elizabeth Ogilvie- Maine lobstermen talk of knitting bait bags and trap bags for lobster traps.
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens- Arguably the most well known knitting reference; not unusual for non-knitters to refer to a knitter as a Madame Defarge.
  • The Twisted Sword (The Poldark series), Winston Graham- The last book in this series includes a description of handknit stockings and gloves. 
  • Was It Something I Said?, Valerie Block- Mention of knitting as therapy after a plane crash.
  • A World without Wool Shops, Dulan Barber- A wonderful description of wool shops.

Mystery

  • A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton- Description of a very intricately knitted mauve Aran sweater.
  • Aunt Dimity’s Death, Nancy Atherton- Knitting mention. 
  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie King- In Sherlock Holmes style; also A Letter for Mary where a suspect makes mistakes in her knitting. 
  • The Bookman’s Wake, John Dunning- “The night was young, the game wasn’t over yet, I was more focused with each passing block. I wasn’t going to sit in my room all night knitting an afghan.” 
  • The Brother Cadfael series, Ellis Peters- At least one mention in Potters field of an old lady knitting.
  • Buried in Quilts, Sara Hoskinson Frommer- “‘I still can’t believe it,’ said Annie Jordan, knitting without watching. Like Edna, she couldn’t bear to sit idle — and she didn’t count mere meetings as work.” 
  • Candle for a Corpse, Ann Granger- Delightful mention of hand-knit sweater given as a gift.
  • Carpool, Mary Cahill- One of the main characters knits, and another quilts; the book has numerous mentions of their projects. “The nice thing about knitting is, you can do it anywhere. And you can do it faster when you’re away from your own phone.”
  • C.O.P. Out, Nancy Herndon- A seniors’ knit-in in front of the police station.
  • D is for Deadbeat, Sue Grafton- Knitting as an aid to learning patience and an eye for detail. 
  • Dead Winter, William G. Tapply- Nice description comparing knitting to solving murders 
  • Deadly Appearances, Gail Bowen- Brief mention of knitting. 
  • Death of an Expert Witness, P.D. James- One of the characters is a knitter.
  • Deception on His Mind, Elizabeth George- Comment that knitting is a usual part of a woman’s possessions.
  • The Devil’s Workshop, Kate Gallison- Knitting mention.
  • Doomed to Die, Dorothy Simpson- A suspect is a knitwear designer.
  • Everywhere That Mary Went, Lisa Scottoline- Knitting mention.
  • Farewell to Yarns, Jill Churchill- Numerous knitting mentions.
  • The Grub-and-Stakers Spin a Yarn, Charlotte MacLeod writing as Ailsa Craig – Zany book with some scenes set in a yarn shop.
  • The Hand of Death, Margaret Yorke- The wife of the main character knits, including charity knitting.
  • Hasty Retreat, Kate Gallison- Knitting figures into the plot. 
  • Ho Ho Homicide, Corinne Holt Sawyer- Brief mention of knitting by a night-shift nurse. 
  • Holly Jolly Murder, Joan Hess- Somewhat snarky comment about knitting.
  • How to Murder the Man of Your Dreams, Dorothy Cannell- The vicar’s husband knits.
  • Ice Man, Ed McBain- The main character’s wife knits him a watch cap for Valentine’s Day.
  • Impact, Stephen Greenleaf- Another murder with a knitting needle. 

 

J. Alfred Prufrock Murders, Corinne Holt Sawyer

Knitting mention. 

 

The Miss Marple series, Agatha Christie

Lots of knitting by Miss Marple in this well-known series. 

 

Mrs. Malory: Death of a Dean, Hazel Holt

Mentions yarn stashes.

 

Mrs. Malory Wonders, Hazel Holt

Main character owned a yarn shop. 

 

Murder Among Us, Ann Granger

The murdered woman ran a wool and craft shop — you’ll have to read the book to see if this caused her death.

 

Murder Gets a Life, Anne George

KIP at an airport.

 

Night of Four Hundred Rabbits, Elizabeth Peters

Main character is a knitter.

 

“A Needle for the Devil,” Ruth Rendell

In the short story collection The Fever Tree and Other Stories. Several knitting references, but the details are inaccurate. 

 

The Red Scream, Mary W. Walker

Knitting mention.

 

Sadie Shapiro’s Knitting Book, Robert Kimmel Smith

Also other titles including Sadie Shapiro, Matchmaker. A zany senior has adventures, solves mysteries, and knits. 

 

Serpent’s Tooth, Faye Kellerman

Mention of favourably-received handknit cardigan. 

 

The Silent Cry, Anne Perry

Brief mention of knitting socks using bone needles in this William Monk/Hester Latterley Victorian mystery. 

 

Stitches in Time, Barbara Michaels

Sock knitting.

 

Thrones, Dominations, Dorothy L. Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh

Knitting under stress. 

 

Tourist Trap, Julie Smith

Brief mention of male knitting baby clothes.

 

The Trouble with Going Home, Camilla T. Crespi

Dreaming of murder with a knitting needle. 

 

The Veiled One, Ruth Rendell

Considerable knitting content; the murder weapon is a knitting needle. 

 

While the Patient Slept, Mignon Eberhart

The narrator is a nurse who knits during home-nursing work; the author is a knitter and knows what she’s talking about.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Friday, Robert Heinlein
A menacing knitter.
 
Drums of Autumn, Diana Gabaldon
Sock knitting in 1700’s, including description of males learning as children. 
 
Queen of the Summer Stars, Persia Woolley
Heroine knitting on her queenly throne.
 
The Unknown Shore(Aubrey-Maturin series), Patrick O’Brian
Pirates teach a captured child how to knit. 
The Very Thought of You, Lynn Kurland
An 11th century tapestry-destroying bard learns to knit when transplanted to 20th century Scotland.

Fairy Tales

Angelita’s Magic Yarn, Doris Lecher
An Andean folk tale, where the heroine is the fastest and finest knitter in the village. 
 
The Mitten, Jan Brett
A Ukrainian folk tale where a young boy begs his grandma to knit him snow white mittens — and promptly loses them in the snow where they become a home for animals.

Children’s Fiction

Amos’ Sweater, Janet Lunn
 
Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Also Rilla of Ingleside. Various knitting and crochet references.
 
Apple Tree Christmas, Trinka Hakes Noble
A young girl knits during a blizzard in the 1880s, using wool from one of the family’s sheep, Mrs. Wooly.
 
Boys Don’t Knit, Janice Schoop
Or do they?
 
Christmas Trolls, Jan Brett
A Scandinavian story with knitting mentions. 
 
Daisy and Her Needles, Keith Balding
Delightful story about a granny knitting a fire, tea pot, husband… 
 
Derek the Knitting Dinosaur, Mary Blackwood
Rhymed couplets of a dinosaur who knits during the onset of the ice age while his pals frolic.
 
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Margaret Sidney
Plus other titles; knitting mentions. 
 
Homer Price, Robert McCloskey
Features a giant ball of yarn and a knitting teacher. 
 
Knitwits, William Taylor
A boy learns how to knit so he can make a sweater for an expected sibling — without the knowledge of his hockey team. 
 
Lottie’s New Beach Towel, Petra Mathers
Lottie, the chicken, knits a sock. 
 
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
A knitting frenzy causes environmental damage. 
 
The Mitten Tree, Candace Christiansen
An old woman secretly knits mittens and hangs them on a tree for the children waiting at the school bus stop.
 
Mr. Nick’s Knitting, Margaret Wild
A male knitter makes friends with a female knitter while commuting by train. 
 
No Roses for Harry, Gene Zion
A bird unravels the unwanted sweater that Harry’s grandma knit for him.
 
The Queen’s New Clothes, Tom Dunsmuir
Dotty the Queen cat has an insatiable appetite for yarn, and knits weird garments for everybody in the kingdom.
 
Safe Return, Catherine Dexter
A young girl pushes herself to knit mittens to will her mother’s return from across the sea. 
 
The Saturdays(Melendybooks), Elizabeth Enright
Kids’ knitting. 
 
Scaredy Cat, Joan Rankin
Knitting. 
 
Sheep in a Jeep, Nancy Shaw
Plus others; with a knitted lamb. 
 
Sunny’s Mittens, Robin Hansen
Grandma teaches a young girl to knit; includes patterns.
 
Tale of Alain, Arnold Zimmerman
Time travel tale; includes directions for making the hero’s striped sweater. 
 
Thomas’ Snowsuit, Robert Munsch
 
The Tusk Fairy, Nicola Smee
A little girl’s knitted elephant unexpectedly unravels and the tusk fairy comes to the rescue.

Children’s Non-fiction

Wool, Annabelle Dixon
Describes how wool is made into a sweater.

Poetry

Auntie’s Knitting a Baby, Lois Simmie
Zany rhymes about a bad knitter.

Biography

At Home in the World: A Memoir, Joyce Maynard
Known because of her affair with J.D. Salinger; Maynard’s mother was a knitter and the book includes knitting-related anecdotes.
 
Birds, Beasts and Relatives, Gerald Durrell
Amusing description of knitting by his mother. 
 
Jenny Walton’s Packing for a Woman’s Journey, Nancy Lindemeyer
Includes many references to her knitting.
 
My family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
Hilarious description of author’s mother knitting in a car. 
 
No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin
Biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; includes photo of Eleanor knitting. 
 
Personal History, Katharine Graham
The author, longtime editor of The Washington Post and Newsweek, mentions her mother-in-law knitting as a decoy on the back of a rum runner in the Florida Everglades during Prohibition.
 
A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece, Jane Jacobs
Knitting in Russian Alaska in the 19th century.
 
Voyage of American Promise, Dodge Morgan
Solo long distance sailor describes mittens handknit by his wife.
 
A Welcoming Life(the M.F.K. Fisher scrapbook), Dominique Gioia
Photos of the author knitting on the beach. 
 
What Fresh Hell Is This?, Marion Meade
Biography of Dorothy Parker, an avid knitter who carried her knitting bag everywhere.

Non-Fiction

And Now All This, A.W.C. Sellar
The practice and fury of knitting (woology). 
 
Born at the Right Time: A History of the Baby Boom Generation, Doug Owram
Mention of postwar shortages of knitting supplies.
 
The History of Hand Knitting, Richard Rutt
 
The Knitting Sutra: Craft as Spiritual Practice, Susan Gordon Lydon
Knitting and meditation as contemplative aids.
 
Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
“Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back 3,000 years haven’t yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food?”
 
Prevention’s Your Perfect Weight
Knitting as a dieting aid (!).

 

More to be added in when I can:

A Deadly Yarn / Knit One, Kill Two / Needled To Death (By Maggie Selton) Yarn shop / knitting discussed throughout books.
A Good Yarn All about a yarn store owner, knitting and love. Includes quotes, web address’ and a pattern too.

Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstresscontains an important knitting character, she knits throughout the book for a particular statement.

Cheaper By the Dozen/Belles on their ToesIn both books, the mother, Lillian Moller Gilbreath, is a knitter.

Crewel World – novel by Monica Ferris Series set in needlework shop, constant knitting, etc..

Died In The Wool by Mary Kruger

Drums of Autumnby Diana Gabaldon. Aunt Jocasta (aunt of male main character Jamie Fraser) knits. Female main character Claire (Jamie’s wife) knits and spins–talks about circular needles, too. Their daughter Brianna also knits and spins.

A Farewell to Yarns – mystery by Jill Churchill Murdered knitter, detective crochets afghan.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown “The little old lady whispering hush” is knitting.

Family Tree (by Barbara Delinsky) Wife, owner of a yarn store, has a baby whose skin is very much darker than the parents.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Hagrid knits and Ron Weasley’s mother knits a sweater for Harry.

Harry Potter The Order of the Phoenix Hermione knits hats for house elves

Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceProfessor Dumbledore spends extra time in bathroom, when someone inquires if he has an upset stomach he replies, “No, I was merely reading the muggle magazines, I do love knitting patterns.” pg. 73.

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne Hepzibah Pyncheon knits throughout the book.

Jane Eyre Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper at Thornfield Hall, knits throughout the book.

Knit Fast, Die Young by Mary Kruger

Knitting by Anne Bartlett Unlikely friendship between 2 women as they explore mutual loss, grief and a love of knitting.

Light On Snow(by Anita Shreeve’s) character a teenage girl, who knits.

The Once and Future King by:TH White – Merlin tells Wart that he should learn to knit. (p. 74 in the 1987 Ace Book edition)

Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperump-a-Zoo (by Mercer Mayer) The Prof. knits a very very long sock while waiting in a tree. He is waiting to catch a Zipperump-a-Zoo.

Roman Fever – short story(by Edith Wharton) two women are recollecting their youth while knitting.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs Aunt Pretty crochets all the time.

Shall I Knit You A Hat? A Christmas Yarn (By Kate Klise Illustrations by M. Sarah Klise) Mother Rabbit knits her child rabbit a hat that goes over his ears.

Stitch in Snow

The Shop on Blossom Street The shop is a yarn store and has a lot of references about
knitting. Even has a pattern.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Ophelia St. Clare is shown to be knitting and Old Dinah is implied to have a knitting project as well.

Wish Upon a Star (by Olivia Goldsmith) the main character is constantly knits and there is a knitting store too.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. aafke7
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 18:13:57

    Often thought about this historically interesting topic.
    I’ll add a knit quote tomorrow on my life blog on a Dutch Textile curator Rita Bolland.

    Reply

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