Author Kate Jacobs in town Monday
Vail CO, Colorado
The first scarf Kate Jacobs knit was done in secret. It was a straight forward, garter stitch pattern with stripes. And despite a few mistakes, she managed to pull off the project in time for Christmas. When her husband unwrapped the homemade gift, he was surprised that the New Yorker he’d married had taken up the age-old craft turned trendy hobby.
Little did he know it would come to consume his wife’s professional life, as she wove a story about the way that friends are held together by a series of delicate stitches. The result is “The Friday Night Knitting Club,” a novel Kate Jacobs will share with readers this Monday at The Yarn Studio in Minturn.
“To me, this novel is about relationships,” says Jacobs. She drew on her own friendships with longtime chums, as well as the memory of her knitting grandmothers to write about the imaginary world of the Walker and Daughter knitting shop.
Jacobs drew on the years she lived in Manhattan as a magazine editor to recreate the real and beloved setting on the Upper West Side, and she describes the sights and smells of the city with accuracy and fondness.
“I spent my formative adult years in the city,” she says, highlighting her graduation from NYU, landing a full-time job and meeting the man who is now her husband. But with all of the upsides of life in a bustling city came low times too.
“From bad relationships to cramped living quarters to the experience of 9/11, those are the times that define you, that make you feel an overwhelming connection to the city,” she says.
The racial diversity of New York is equally well-represented in “The Friday Night Knitting Club.” Jacobs is careful with her characters, and approaches cultural subjects with sensitivity and empathy. From the Asian-American newlywed to a biracial teenager, the novelist hoped to let the characters’ emotions and cultural references inform their roles in the story.
Her efforts were successful, according to Kathy Morrow, the proprietor of The Yarn Studio.
“One of my favorite things about the book is that the characters are believable,” Morrow says. Not only do they seem realistic as individuals, she notes, but the group that gathers every Friday to work on projects and update each other about the goings-on of life is how it happens in real life. “I think Kate truly captured the essence of what the knitting community is about.”
Among valley knitters, the novel is a great manifestation of the relationships they have formed and nurtured over the years. Annie Breckheimer of Eagle has been knitting since she was a child and made her first sweater in middle school.
“In college, six of us would knit together every night at 10 o’clock,” Breckheimer says. “And on really sunny days, we called it ‘Skip and Knit’ because we would get together under this great tree, skip class and knit.”
A member and host of knitting groups since her college days, Breckheimer sees the same affinity in the friends that comprise “The Friday Night Knitting Club.”
“Knitting is all about the possibilities,” she says. “It’s about making a three dimensional garment out of a piece of string. Because there are so many outcomes, because it is so open-ended and creative, it really brings out the best in people.”