“I suppose for some, knitting is just a hobby. But to me, it’s an art form. It’s my passion. Where oils may be the medium of the painter, my medium is wool and cotton, angora and cashmere, bamboo or mohair in the most fantastic of shades and colors. I can’t not knit. It’s a necessary part of my being.”
A lonely young mother of two finds herself isolated on Martha’s Vineyard in a deteriorating marriage. When she reluctantly joins Molly Gardner’s knitting group at Stitches to knit an afghan for charity, she finds herself among a group of women she can confide in. Through poignant stories of her eccentric Great Aunt Frieda, Molly imparts the lessons she learned about life, love and knitting. As Frieda takes center stage through an almost ghost-like presence, her Mae West style and strength of character embolden Martha to make a difficult choice.
The Story Behind the Story
It’s hard to believe I started writing Stitches five years ago. The year before, I had freed myself from an unhappy relationship by looking at my life as though I were the main character in a movie. The strategy worked because it gave me a perspective of my situation that drove me to take on a more empowered, assertive approach to life, instead of taking a back seat to his.
This movie idea followed me on my daily walk along the Charles River in Boston. I found myself repeating a conversation over and over in my mind. At the time, I was also knitting pretty much non-stop, as I often do when I’m not in a writing mode. On a day trip to the Vineyard, I suddenly had this idea to create a fictional story out of this little tape playing over and over in my mind. The tape became the voices of a group of women who join a knitting group. When I finally honored this nonsensical urge to write, I realized it was a screenplay.
Taking a personal story and turning it into a work of fiction was such an interesting and cathartic experience that I decided to share the idea with a small group of women at the Love, Light, and Laughter conference back in October, 2009. The idea behind the workshop was to use the power of journaling in the third person as a way to step outside oneself and view a situation from an audience’s perspective, much the way I had four years prior. From this small group of women, I realized how much we tend to wait for others to change—that if we had full control over the scenes of our lives, we’d modify the characters around us before we’d turn inward and ask what it is about ourselves that may need to change.
These experiences—freeing myself from a bad relationship by becoming the Star in my own life story, creating a screenplay out of a difficult experience, and dipping my toes in the water of a writing workshop, lead to my book Stuck with Mr. Wrong? Ten Steps to Starring in your own Life Story. Each step uses a different movie-making analogy, and the reader is brought through a series of journaling exercises, writing in the third person, as a way to transform themselves and/or their situation.
Stitches was definitely a first, and funny to look back on. I don’t know how it is that I overlooked the fact that I named the protagonist Martha from Martha’s Vineyard. Seems a bit redundant, but funny nonetheless. Still, regardless of whether or not it would ever make it on the big screen, I’ve grown proud of this work. There’s something incredibly powerful about creating a work of fiction out of a painful event. Taking the voices in my head: the voice of the feminist (Jen), the princess (Debbie), the storyteller (Molly), and the wise old soul (Frieda), surrounding my core self (Martha), and weaving it all together in the context of one of my other passions: knitting, is my own little piece of artwork.