Monday, December 19, 2011

My beloved local yarn shop owners wrote a book!

Every community/city needs a fabulous yarn shop--for me, a knitoholic, it's a necessity of life. I'm completely thrilled with Patricia's Yarns, which just happens to be two blocks away from my house. Patricia not only knows everything there is to know about yarn and patterns (and she's calmly and patiently helped me out of near disasters more times than I care to admit), she's got this warm, cozy shop that's filled with unbelievably gorgeous yarns. (Sometimes I just pop in to look and touch.) And she's smart, funny and wonderful--and so is her husband Adam, who hangs out, and their gorgeous little girl Grace, and their dog! When I found out that Patricia and Adam wrote a book, The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater, I had to promote it! (And hint hint, it would make ANY knitter on your holiday list really, really happy. Trust me on this.)

Thank you Patricia and Adam for answering my questions!

So, tell us how the idea for writing a book came about. Had you ever written before? Was it fun or were there times when you felt like screaming? What was it like writing together?

In 2004, Adam was in the shop and he heard someone talk about the urban legend known as the curse of the boyfriend sweater / the curse of the love sweater (it has been given so many names).  He said that day that the topic would be a great idea for a book. I agreed, there were so many websites and articles about the curse, but no one had written a book about it. Initially, we were just going to do a book of patterns (Adam and I agreed, there weren't enough good men's sweater patterns and thought it would be cute to make a book about "breaking the curse"). We wrote out an outline and then started adding anecdotes to go with each pattern idea. After a while, the outline became a story line – we thought, let’s make it into a novel with knitting patterns.  For years, the story line was nothing more than a few Microsoft Word documents - a project for a later date. Then in 2008, we started to get serious about having a family and put together a list of things we wanted to do before a baby arrived... go to New Zealand, save some money, write the book, etc.

We aren't writers. The last time either of us had written fiction was in high school. But, we thought the story idea was great.  So, at first, we looked for ghost writers, but found out quickly that we couldn't afford one. Then a friend who worked in publishing said, "just write it yourselves, you can do it. Just write the first draft".  At the time, my father-in-law was sick with cancer. We were spending a lot of time in the hospital. So writing was a good outlet for both of us. We could work on the book in the waiting rooms, one chapter at a time - and then have something to talk about later (besides cancer). Writing became therapeutic.  Before we knew it, we had written more than 15 short chapters. Adam would write a few paragraphs and I would read it, adding here and there to each section.  It was fun to work on together.  There were times when I would ask him to read what I had changed and he wouldn’t have time – or vice versa- and we would just leave a working copy – covered in sticky notes – on the counter until the other person had time to look at it.  We did really well giving ourselves deadlines - until our daughter Grace was born.  Then things slowed to a halt.  When we finally completed the chapters, we then had a friend, Tommy Crawford, do some of the first drafts editing and he helped flesh-out some scenes.  This summer, though, a typically slow time at the shop, we were able to make final edits and upload the project to Createspace.

Tell us why there's a curse attached to a boyfriend sweater?

If you Google this you will have thousands of search results, each with a slight variation on the same theme:  if you knit your boyfriend a sweater, he will break up with you.  There are many explanations for this phenomenon, but the best in my opinion, are (1) he doesn’t understand how much work is put into making the sweater – which causes problems, (2) he realizes the commitment you’ve made to make the sweater, and him, and it scares him off.  It’s like a hand-knit engagement ring.  Or, (3) you knit him the equivalent of the Christmas jumper – one very ugly sweater.  Either way, it makes for a good knitting topic – and has been discussed often at the shop.

I love the story of how you, Patricia, left corporate life to forge this wonderful knitting store (I also left a horrendous corporate job years ago to write full time at home.) Tell us what that was like. Were you nervous about it or had you just reached a breaking point?

I used to really like my job in finance.  I was fresh out of college and was surrounded with people my age – many of whom I really liked.  Then, over a few years, many of my work friends were moved to different departments.  And their jobs became mine.  I was one person doing the job of three (or four).  I was stressed, getting sick often, getting migraines, it wasn’t healthy.  And, the hardest part was that Adam, a teacher, really liked his job.  I eventually called him from work one day crying.  He said, “quit”.  Just like that.  And so, the next day, I did. We had been talking about starting a knitting shop in Hoboken – so I seized the opportunity.  We were living very simply at the time, so Adam supported us while I got the business up and running.  I quit in April, 2004 and opened Patricia’s Yarns in August of 2004.  I love my shop and I haven’t had a migraine since!

Are you writing another book?

No.  Writing our book was a marathon.  Some people finish marathons and want to run another.  We are just happy we finished the race.

What question didn't I ask that I should have?

For all of your readers that are thinking about self-publishing, we were very pleased with the simplicity and quality of Createspace.  

Our book is available at  Thank you so very much for featuring us.  We know your readers are all very knowledgeable writers and hope they enjoy our book for what it is – a lighthearted story with a few simple, but favorite knitting patterns. 

1 comment:

S. Pinneo said...

Love this, and you ladies too!

I left my Wall St. job to write full time. Let's see... left in 2005, and my novel debuts in 7 weeks. So it wasn't exactly a quick turnaround. Oh well.

I too have heard of the boyfriend sweater curse. Actually the Yarn Girls pattern book mentions it! I have never knitted my husband a sweater, but I did make him a hat. And it turned out horribly. He wore it for a year out of loyalty until I begged him to please put it into a dark closet and never show it to me again.

I can't wait to read your novel!