Knitting in Novels

You’ve probably noticed that I like to knit.  So I always like it when I come across a character knitting.  There’s something cozy and British about it.  That’s why I usually have at least one person knitting in my books, and it’s something I can add without needing to research it.  Here are a few other books with knitters I’ve enjoyed (and one DVD). 

Princess of the Midnight Ball, Jessica Day George.  The story is based on the fairy tale Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it’s one of the few fantasy books I’ve come across where knitting plays a role.  It’s also unusual because it’s the guy knitting, a soldier who learned so he’d have warm socks.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling.  You’ve probably already read this, so you know all the knitting references everywhere in the series, but you’d miss it if I hadn’t mentioned it.  This one is my favorite of the series, mainly because of dear Remus.

A Sleeping MurderA Caribbean Mystery, Nemesis, Agatha Christie.  You can’t go wrong with a good Miss Marple.  There’s always at least a little knitting, but it stands out in these three.  Jane goes to a yarn shop to look for gossip and clues in Sleeping Murder.  There’s fluffy, pink knitting in A Caribbean Mystery, and she is remembered as much for that as her crime solving in the sequel Nemesis.

They Came to Bagdad, Agatha Christie.  Yes, I really like Dame Agatha.  This isn’t a Miss Marple, or a Poirot, but knitting still helps.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, Beth Pattillo.  This reminded me of Debbie Macomber’s Shop on Blossom Street, a group of women get together to knit and you find out that they all have problems.  This group also all read the same book and knit projects based on it.     In this book, they’re focusing on children’s classics for the benefit of a new member, and it’s fun to remember some old favorites.

Pushing Daisies.  This is the DVD.  Cheese, knitting and a murder, what else could a girl ask for?  This was one of my all time favorite tv shows, with a great cast, beautiful costumes, a knitting detective, and a lot of Alice-like weirdness.

So what books would you add to the list?

Sprite knitting

Sorry I missed posting when I was supposed  to the last time.  I was a little under the weather, but I’m feeling much better now, so here’s the post I was planning– some background on sprite knitting in Fantasy Kingdom XXI.

The sprites of Pelimaa can knit spells into fabric. Not all of them use their magic this way, but Bobble from Fantasy Kingdom XXI is one who has learned how to cast those kinds of spells. Like any kind of knitting, the more skilled the sprite is, the more complex they can make their spells, and the easier it is for them to make simple items. One of Bobble’s favorite things to knit is socks with a warming spell knitted in. Phichorian has been known to buy them off Bobble and use them to smooth things over with castle guards. Bobble can knit them without too much concentration; if you know how to knit, imagine knitting socks with a stitch pattern you’ve used many times before. The first few times you need to concentrate, but after that, it becomes almost automatic. Socks with warming spells are usually what Bobble’s knitting when he’s nervous. 

knitting from Fantasy Kingdom XXI book cover

Bobble's knitting

From the description of the sweater, or the hat pattern on the cover, you can probably tell that sprite knitting has color work patterns in it. The spells themselves are what make the color patterns in sprite knitting, not different colors of yarn. Bobble knits with whatever he has on hand, usually undyed cream wool since that’s what’s readily available at the castle and it takes the spells well. As he knits, he casts the spell into the stitches and the pattern emerges. On the cover of Fantasy Kingdom XXI, you can see he only has one ball of yarn attached to his work but several colors in the project. Imagine a ball of plain yarn producing patterns like self-patterning sock yarns. The more complex the spell, the more complex the pattern and the more Bobble has to concentrate.  Warming socks he can knit while talking and flying at the same time. For Charles’s sweater, he had to work in complete silence. Imagine a sweater with multiple stitch patterns in cables and lace and color versus a sock with one knit purl stitch pattern.  If one pattern is off, say one stitch to the left or a cable turned right instead of left, the spell won’t work right. 

Colors and patterns are not consistent between sprites. Phichorian and many others at the castle would recognize Bobble’s warming socks from the color and pattern because they’ve seen them many times, but they wouldn’t know if another sprite’s socks were for warming or speed or were just socks unless they tried them on. 

And finally size. Bobble is very small, and he knits very small items. When he casts the last bit of the spell, just after he’s bound off the stitches and as he is binding the ends of the magic in, he can add a size spell if he wants. Sometimes he will have it grow to a certain size, but more often he just tells it to grow to the size of the owner and gives it a little nudge in the direction of human size. 

If you’d like to try some sprite knitting, I have the hat pattern from the cover of th book on my web site. (scroll to the bottom of the page)  It is done in stranded color work, so it looks like something Bobble would knit, but the technique is completely different.  For something closer to what Bobble does, use self striping sock yarn (two that are readily available are Red Heart Heart and Sole or Felici) either for the whole project, which is closest to what Bobble does, or to replace all but the background color, which is half way between the two.   Of course you could use it to knit any basic sock pattern for Bobble style warming socks.

my web page is copyright 2010, 2011 Lisa Anne Nisula
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