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the story behind the book

Ann Hood: Knitting more yarns together

david wilson for the boston globe

Ann Hood didn’t grow up knitting.

“I don’t have the knitting gene,” she said, nor could she learn from her mother or grandmother, neither of whom knitted. But when she tried it as an adult, it seemed to fit: “I took to it at a time in my life when I needed to find a source of comfort and an escape, and it really did the trick.”

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Hood’s 2007 novel “The Knitting Circle” centered on a group of women for whom knitting — and the friendship of their fellow knitters — offers healing and solace.

In her latest book, “Knitting Yarns,” she gathers essays by fellow knitting writers. “Part of what makes the book so wonderful is that there are so many different stories,” Hood said in a telephone interview.

Some are wrenchingly personal, like Hope Edelman’s “Home Ec,” in which a woman wrestles with complicated feelings as her daughters take up knitting, an art she associates with her own late mother.

Others approach the topic more broadly, like Alison Lurie’s “The Supernatural Power of Knitting,” which considers knitting in cultural and historical context, from ancient Egypt to her own childish efforts (Lurie writes that under her mother’s “reluctant instruction I managed about twelve inches of a hateful lumpy scarf in alternating wobbly stripes of brown and canary yellow”).

Other contributors include Barbara Kingsolver, Anita Shreve, Elizabeth Berg, Ann Patchett, and Jane Smiley — “so many of them are people’s favorite writers,” Hood pointed out — and the response has been so enthusiastic that a second edition is in the works.

Readings, many at yarn stores, along with the more usual bookstores and libraries, have been filled with knitters, Hood said. “They come out in droves. It’s been wonderful.”

Hood will read from the book Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Melrose Public Library, 69 West Emerson St., Melrose.

Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.
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