This novel is very special to me. A few years ago I was afraid I would never be able to write again. For my entire life, reading and writing were ways to work out what I felt, what I worried about, what I feared, what I hoped for. Then on April 18, 2002, my five year old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep. As an added insult, when I lost Grace I also lost my ability to use words. I couldn't read and I couldn't write. Letters didn't come together to make words; sentences did not make sense. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't focus.
Almost two years later, the literary journal Tin House sent out a request to writers for submissions for their theme issue on Lying. That night-I was unable to sleep well and was often up walking around the house at all hours-an essay came to me fully developed on the lies about grief. I sat down and wrote it and Tin House published it.
That essay opened the door back to writing for me. During that time when I wasn't reading or writing, I learned how to knit. Knitting, I believe, saved my life. But it also introduced me to a new world of yarn and colors and textures and of people. Sitting in various knitting circles, I slowly learned that knitting had rescued other women too. Bad marriages, illness, addiction-knitting gave comfort and even hope through life's trials.
Once I began to write again, a novel about women in a knitting circle began to take shape. The old adage: Write what you know is true, but I like the writer Grace Paley's version even better: Write what you don't know about what you know. With that in mind, I began to read books about knitting history, knitting poetry, knitting everything! I gave my protagonist, Mary, the loss of her only child, and then surrounded her with women who, while teaching her to knit, also tell her their own stories of love and loss and recovery.
The women in this fictitious knitting circle became as real to me as those strangers I sat knitting with after I lost Grace. Each of their stories is told in their own voice and each story moves Mary along in her grieving process.
This novel is important to me as a writer, as a woman, as a mother, and as a knitter. I hope you find comfort and hope-and even knitting tips!-as you read THE KNITTING CIRCLE.