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Strickenfreude: the deep wish that someone had knit that for you.

—Kay Gardiner

“You know what you should write about?” Sarah asks me.

We are deep in the nether regions of Hickory Hill, a wooded park near my house, on a steamy day in an early spring that has been cold and snowy. We are approaching the Pappy Dickinson Reserve area, where one summer, I stumbled upon the remains of a sky blue 1955 Studebaker [my husband identified it by its tail lights] submerged in leaves, mostly stripped of its wonders; an amazing find nonetheless. Ever since, this has been where I go when I want to explore, hoping to find another treasure. This day, Sarah leads us here because she is always on the hunt for morels, and it is morel season in Iowa.

“You should write about what it feels like to wear something someone knit for you.”

Sarah is the accomplished creator of The Magic Thief, a well-loved middle-grade fantasy series. Her newest book, The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings, has a thinking mitten in it, earning her an honorary membership in my knitting circle. We also share a studio space and collaborate on picture books, including one about hunting for morels. She’s opinionated, faithful, and fierce, with a dragon tattoo, and a sword hanging over her garage door. I have great respect for her sense of story, so when Sarah suggests I write about something, which she rarely does, I listen.

“Like when I wear the scarves or wristers you or Jenn (her BFF) made me, I feel you are with me. It’s a great feeling.”

“Thanks,” I tell her. “I’ll give it thought.” In truth, I am touched, but not inspired.

Sarah pauses only a moment more; we are on a hunt. Morels and knitting are equally important, but morels only pop up once a year. We trudge on, poking here and there, not finding a single one.

Sarah goes home, and continues her hunt in her wooded back forty. Later she texts me: I found 36, then after a few minutes—no, 44. She sends a picture of her bounty. That’s Sarah Prineas, ever grateful for morels and handknits.

On a Saturday morning, a few days later, the weather has turned cool. I am sitting in my knitting chair, waiting for my husband to bring me my morning cappuccino. I am about to start a swatch for a new sweater and I trying to make friends with the wool first. I haven’t picked the pattern yet. In my mind’s eye it will be light, warm, and perfect for me to wear on a morning like this. The windows are open and I am cold.

As I cast on, I reflect back on how Sarah spread her fingers that day, as if she was showing off her handknit wristers, and feeling, even there in the woods, the knitterly bond of what her friends had made for her.

There should be a word for what Sarah feels, what many feel about knits that loops us in friendship.

Palknit? Nah.

When I was a child my mother knit me pink mittens with googly eyes. Goofy googly eyes that charmed me back then. There must be a word for that kind of knitting memory.


Long ago, when I was a poor grad student in Iowa City, far from home, my friend Isabel sent me a heather blue turtleneck sweater with cable in the front. The sweater gave me strength, knowing Isabel had knit it for me.


This winter, on a trip to Philadelphia, I found myself unprepared for the frigid weather. I longed for the woolens I had foolishly left at home. Then my youngest daughter, Lelia, arrived and surprised me with a dream cowl of historic warmth, her first knit. I wore it all day and slept with it on at night.



Memories and artifacts of what is made for us, what we make for ourselves and others, accompany us through life. Companionable warmth. We really need words for this, right?

And why stop here? Knitting is about so much more than warmth. I think that’s what Sarah was trying to tell me to write about, and what leads me now to wish for words to give a more robust dimension and precision to what we do and make and feel.

Like when you know you have made yourself something spectacular: heads turn, compliments are given, and you reply, “Thank you, I knit it.”

See what I mean?

Dear Readers, with your needles clicking, whistle up your brains, as Elizabeth Zimmerman would say. Please help create words for the moments in our knitter’s life. Send them in! We wait with woolly anticipation.


About The Author

Michelle Edwards writes about family, friendship, and community. Her work chronicles the large and small victories and defeats of everyday life. She frequently posts her illustrations on Instagram, her website, and at StudioScrawls, her Etsy store.


  • Well I think Strickefreude is pretty damn perfect!

    • I agree!

    • Of course we have to teach auto-correct how to spell it first. GRRRRRRRR

  • ..In awe.. The words I most often hear. I’m ‘in awe ‘ that you made such a beautiful item and I’m ‘in awe’ that you took the time to create this for me…

    • Even without adding the “some” or “wool”, AWE is such an expansive word. I like it!

  • Loveknits- everything I’ve made and given is full of love

    • Yes, Loveknits is definitely a word we need. Thanks!

  • Love hugs—we wrap whatever part of the body in love and hug it gently

    • Oh, how knits feel like a hug. Love hugs, so sweet, and so true. Thanks!

  • Sadknit… the black shawl I made to wear to my dad’s funeral this January – with a rainbow stripe running through it, because it would have made him smile. Joyfulknit – the two matching cardigans I made my little granddaughters to wear to their mamma’s wedding last year. Peaceknit – anything I make when I am struggling with anxiety and depression, because the act of knitting soothes my soul <3

    • Karen, you caught the reach of what out knits can do, be with us, through thick and thin. I love how you knit the rainbow strip in an otherwise mournful shawl. I am sorry for your loss.

  • (A Hat For Mrs. Goldman is my favorite of all the books I read to my granddaughter. I read it to just me, too. 🙂 Thank you for it.) Here I am reading my daily dose of MDK and feeling particularly moved by it. I get to the end and it was you! Happy surprise. Graditudiknit.

    • Thank you! Mrs. Goldman and Sophia might add a mitzvahknit, or keppieknit!

    • So moved that I misspelled my own made-up word: gratitudiknit. More coffee, please.

  • The mommy-hug sweater. Legendary with the boys in my life.

    • Oh, mommy-hug, for sure. Thank you!

  • Hugknit….because a hand-knitted item is like a hug.

    • A hugknit, for a thousand reasons. Thanks!

  • Hey everybody,
    As a german speaking reader of your blog I feel the need to explain the expression ‚Strickenfreude‘, which you can‘t use quite like that.
    Strickfreude would be a wonderful expression and means you have a lot of fun (actually joy, Freude = joy) knitting something. Strickfreunde means you are knitting with someone or maybe knitting for someone (Freunde = friends). But never mind, I like your blog a lot and am reading every single post. Thank you!

    • Thanks for clarifying the true meaning of Strickenfreude. I couldn’t resist using the Kay’s entry, even though we guessed it might be off a bit. Nonetheless, it inspired me as I wrote the story.

    • I think the original joke was a bit different. Stricken, the English word, means struck with sadness or longing, and was a little riff on schaden. It was originally about wishing someone had knitted an item for you. I like your alternative though. And I certainly wish someone had knitted something for me. My experience is that people tend not to knit for a knitter, though I have knitted many items for other people!

      • I think knitters are sometimes afraid to knit for other knitters because they might see that little mistake, a fudging in the pattern, that a non-knitter would never notice. It might be fun to see what knitters wish someone would knit for them. Thanks for writing.

      • Amen sistah! You’re not alone.

        • Even when it is something you could easily knit for yourself. Like a Saturday sweater. I have been wanting one for a very long time.

    • Sigrid, you would be proud of me: I looked it up and learned what it really would mean in German but I still thought it was funny (in English!) so I let it stand.

  • Love in every stitch

    • And the bar between them as well! Love and knitting are twined. Thanks!

    • Yes! Thanks.

    • That goes for quilting, too. Fascinating responses.

      • Quilting amazes me. It is truly love at work, piece by piece.

  • Woolery. Like an owlery, the place our wool inhabits.
    Knitter’s high/Knitting Nirvana. that place in a project where all makes sense and the knitting just flows.
    We also need a word for a group of knitters, like words for groups of birds(shimmer of hummingbirds)

    • I LOVE Woolery. Great. Thanks.

    • I kind of like “a swatch of knitters.”

      • I like it, too. It’s nice to have a stash of collective nouns for knitters.

    • Someone on Instagram suggested a Kindness of knitters as the word for a group. I think that’s pretty good!

      • I think a Kindness of Knitters is lovely. Thanks!

      • Great one!

        • Agreed!

  • When my family loses a knit I made for them I tell them they’re on my shknit-list and maybe won’t get a knit item for a while. (Of course the item is replaced. I love to knit!) But still, no-one ever wants to be on my shknit-list!

    • YES! I have just about forgiven my husband for loosing the light and dark grey Norwegian mittens I knit for him almost 20 years ago. We definitely need shknit-list!

    • Shknitlist! Gotta love this!

    • Love this!!

  • Knitvana

    • Another good word to add to our knitter’s lives. Thanks!

  • A friend gifted me with a pair of her hand-knitted socks. It is the most wonderful feeling to wear them – my feet feel as though they are singing. I’ve quite enjoyed Michelle Edwards’ columns – good writer.

    • Singing feet is a great image, and what I love to think my handmade socks inspire when worn. Thanks!

  • Worldscollide! Sarah Prineas is a fav author of my daughters, for whom I knit copiously.

    • Knitting and magic seem to go together when Sarah Prineas is around. Worldscollide!

    • 😀 AND there’s a knitting pattern in the third Magic Thief book (the tough guy bodyguard Benet, a character in the book, is a knitter, though I am not)!

  • Knitgape (nit-gä′pā):

    The love that encompasses both knitting and receiving.

    • Love-ly! Thanks!

    • really like that- Knitgape – will share it with the knit and knatter group who often donate their work

      • It’s great to share these woolwords, thanks!

  • I studied German in high school so I can see both meanings. However, as the only knitter in my extended family I am all for Kay’s interpretation as English just doesn’t describe the feeling so eloquently. I do like to think I am with the one wearing one of my knits, but it would be lovely to receive…

    • It’s lovely to receive a handknit even if you could knit it yourself. Sometimes, though, I think it wold be cool to have Molly Weasley’s magical knitting whip up the sweater of my dreams or the socks I yearn for.

  • A Hat for Mrs. Goldman is one of my favorite books! I use it at the start of knitting clubs at my school. I can’t wait to read your other books!

    • Thank you! IN ZERO GRANDPARENTS, book two of my Jackson Friends series, Calliope James brings the shawl her grandmother knit to school on Grandparents Day. With 0 grandparents living, the shawl lets her “share” her grandmother with everyone. When she puts it on, it feels like a hug.

  • In reading these posts, high plains knitter jumped into my head, with images of Clint Eastwood knitting on horseback.

    • What a terrific image, a high plains knitter on horseback! Do you think there were any? Can you knit while riding a horse, like EZ on the back of Arnold’s motorcycle? I am INTRIGUED!

  • Knittinsmitten.

    • How very charming. I can’t help but think of it as the first word in a picture book. Maybe the next line would be knittinmittenkitten. Thanks!

  • Can we call this Warm Fuzzies? For the actual item given and your heart’s glowing response?

    • Of course you can. Warm Fuzzies is super cozy and sweet. Thank you.

  • Such a sweet post.

    • Thank you.

  • I LOVE a hat for Mrs. Goldman! What a sweet and wonderful book. Thank you, Ms. Edwards, for writing it. 🙂

    • Thank you, Vicki.

  • I am partial to kvellcowl, but I also love Strickefreude! What’s better than clever knitting? Well, probably nothing, but a close second would be clever words about knitting. Love this piece so much.

    • Thank you, Soshana. I loved writing this story, bringing so many pieces of my worlds together.

  • I liked your blog so much! can’t believe you remember the sweater. I still have a strand or two of that yarn, the color was lovely. So many great yarns are available now, it is hard to remember how limited the choices were back then in the US.
    You have gone so far, Michelle dear!

    • I think about that sweater from time to time, never forgetting you or what it meant to receive it. Thank you again. The color was lovely, and remembering it now, I believe it had a speck of green in it. So special back then — and now. One of the many important gifts I have received from you.

  • Your article reminded me of all the sweaters I have that were made by my beloved grandmother. I can neither give away nor throw away any. They are my connection to her when she was of sound mind and body. Memorystitch may apply here as well as Loveknit.

    • I think Memorystitch is a keeper, like the sweaters your grandmother made. Thank you.

  • purposeful loving – every cast on, knit, purl, brings you closer to that person you are knitting for even if it’s for yourself. When admired by someone else, you can gift it off your person. What better treat than to be complimented on a work of art.

    • Purposeful loving catches so much. Thanks!

  • for us, a knitted object for those you care about is a Portable Hug.

    • Portable hug fits so many shawls, sweaters, scarves, afghans … sending love. Thanks!

  • Knitworthy- one who you love dearly, and will ALSO love what you make them.

    • Love it! Perfect. Maybe knitworthy can have a secondary meaning, as in the Carbeth is a knitworthy pattern.

  • Strickenfreude is wonderful!

    • Agreed!

  • I like the word “warmthful”. The Yarn Harlot calls handknits “portable love.”

    • Warmthful is great. I want to use it immediately. Thanks!

  • How about … returknits… when you get back the sweaters you made for your kids after they grow up to be bigger than you!!!

    • Returnknits. That’s a terrific addition with room for expansion to knits that find new uses after being retired by the original recipient.

  • I hadn’t put a word to it, but I think I can now; a knitterby (say “knitter-bye”) is what I would give to my girlie when she had trouble dropping off at night. After the story, the water, and the night-nights, I’d sit on the corner of her bed (or in a chair next to her when she got to big to grant me space!) and, with just enough light to see, knit her to sleep.

    And how about a cozy of knitters?

    • Knitterbye is so poetic and the image you created, which immediately brought to mind GOODNIGHT MOON with mama bunny knitting in her rocking chair, is a picture book waiting to be written.Thank you.

      • Knitlifted. What happens when your lovely favorite sweater accidentally ends up in the dry cleaning pile and never returns. (Sad face)

        • Or Goodwill. Knitlifted is a great addition.

  • When my only sibling died @age 15 in 1974, I was a lost soul. Todd died in November and in February, when I had my 22nd birthday, my grandmother sent me a beautiful hand knit Aran style sweater. It was receiving an enormous hug in the mail.
    I’m now 65 and I still have that sweater. And I learned how important a hand knit item could be.

    • Ann, I am so sorry for your loss, and all that has meant to you then, and now. I am touched, and so grateful, that you have shared such a powerful piece of your personal history. Yet more testimony to what a hand knit can do and mean. Thank you.

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