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Thursday, September 30, 2010


Today’s Book Club Friday guest mystery author is Jessie Crockett. A nearly life-long resident of the Granite State, Jessie naturally adores black flies, 98% humidity, killing frosts in August and snow banks taller than the average grandmother. When not working on her next murderous adventure she enthusiastically putters in her greenhouse, designs bento lunches and throws parties.  She delights in mentoring young writers at the local elementary school. Jessie lives with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children in a village so small most other New Hampshire residents have never heard of it. Hearing from readers makes her day so please drop by for a visit at jessiecrockett.com.

Jessie is offering a copy of
Live Free or Die to one lucky person who posts a comment to the blog this week. -- AP

How Knitting Taught Me to Be a Writer
It was the birthday sock project that started it all.  I mentioned to a friend, who was a knitter, how I had always wanted to learn to knit socks.  She promptly signed us both up for a sock knitting workshop at a local yarn store.  I arrived at the class enthusiastic and completely unaware of how unprepared I was for the task ahead.

The teacher took my measure almost immediately and moved her folding chair next to mine in the knitting circle.  I am embarrassed to admit I received far more than my fair share of her attention that day.  While other students ribbed like fiends and fashioned gussets I fumbled with my shiny new set of double pointed needles and wished I could grow a second set of hands.

By the end of the day I was the proud owner of a single baby sock, mostly knitted by the instructor.  I thought I had a basic understanding of the process and purchased more yarn and needles to make a pair for myself.  The instructor just shook her head at my foolishness as she rang me up.  Even my very kind friend asked if I was sure I wanted to keep trying.

Later that evening, stretched out on my sofa, I began what I was sure would be a masterpiece.  Chanting “knit, purl, knit, purl” under my breath I tackled the ribbing.  No matter what I did extra knit stitches appeared at the end of each round and the sock careened off in unintended directions.

I kept at it though and a couple days later took all seven inches of it to show to an elderly neighbor who was a dedicated knitter.  She took one look and asked, “Would you like me to unravel it for you dear?”  She gave me some pointers as I watched hours of work turn once more into a ball of fresh possibilities.

I tried again with similar results. My friend laughed at me and remarked it was possible to purchase socks.  I ignored her and kept on chanting “knit, purl, knit, purl”.  Then, one day, one of my beloved sisters saw the socks and uttered the magic words, “That’s wonderful!  Please make me a pair for my birthday!”  Armed with encouragement I dashed off to the yarn shop and purchased a softly spun yarn in midnight blue.  The color was too dark to see mistakes and the yarn snapped off at the end of almost every round. Still, I worked every chance I got on those socks and with the help of friends and neighbors managed to complete them by my sister’s birthday.

But what does this have to do with writing?  Everything.  I learned to express a dream and to go for it even if I was unprepared.  I learned to keep at it even when experts thought I was hopeless.  Knitting taught me to value the process as much as the product and to be grateful for the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.  It taught me how much a word of encouragement means when you are ready to quit. It especially taught me about doing a job over and over until it is right.  But mostly, it taught me passion and enthusiasm are enough to get a job done.

Last year, the same week I presented my sister with her annual birthday socks, I received a publishing contract for my first novel.  This year, I’m knitting her two pair.

Thanks for stopping by, Jessie, and for offering a copy of Live Free or Die as a giveaway. So readers, do you knit? Or is there something else you sucked at but stuck with it until you mastered it? Let’s hear from you. You could win a copy of Live Free or Die by posting a comments. -- AP


Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

Hey Jessie. Your knitting story sounds rather like mine. I finally decided to tackle guitar after committing four Scandinavian sweaters and a couple dozen French berets. Knitting is, though, a lovely thing to bring to lectures. See ya in Boston in November but I'm not bringing my knitting.

Laurie said...

Great story, Jessie! I have to admit I've attempted knitting(not socks, just regular) and I'm fine, except...I always have to have my daughter start the project for me and finish it. I can never remember how to, is it called, cast on? I know -pathetic. So I'm very impressed with your perseverance.

Unknown said...

Your persistance in knitting is admirable. I don't knit, did make a crochet afghan once years ago, but I am just as persisant with my Cross Stitch. I always say.. I CAN finish this. (tho I have a stack of UFO's that keep rotating in and out of my hands)

Unknown said...

Years ago a friend bullied me into trying a knitting class. I knitted squares in many fun patterns but never finished a real project. Now though I'm thinking about learning to knit scarves so I can keep my hands busy when watching the telly. Hope I can be as tenacious as you!

Jill McCullough said...

Jessie -- What a nice upbeat post. Thanks for sharing. AP -- Loved those scarecrow ideas. "Guy Crow" LOL!!

Kathleen Ernst said...

I love to knit, although I'm not great at it. I keep things very simple so I don't have to stress. Nice post!

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

I've been knitting for about a year, but have yet to attempt knitting socks, though I'm really anxious to learn. I admire your perseverance, you've given me hope!


I want to thank Jessie Crockett for being our Book Club Friday guest today and for offering a copy of LIVE FREE OR DIE to one of our readers. Thank you all for stopping by the blog this week.

ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN will be released in just 3 months! It's already available for pre-order at both Amazon and B&N at a great discount. And who isn't interested in saving money in this economy, right?

Have a great weekend, everyone, and don't forget to stop back tomorrow to find out who won a copy of Jessie's book.

Susan said...

I learned to knit in college, and some of my friends used to come to my room to laugh at my clumsy beginning efforts. Now, however, I can even knit a simple pattern and read at the same time. Life is good.

--Sue Mueller

Fran Stewart said...

I, too, knit and write, although I must say the one-and-a-half socks I made were a problem from the start. I finally got a friend to finish the second sock for me, and then I PAID her to make me some more! Now I stick to scarves and hats. Thank goodness my writing is better than my knitting...