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One beautiful spring day back in 2021, I was feeling blue and took to my sofa with some yarn and needles, casting on for a simple hat.

Grief brought me to knitting twenty years earlier, after my five-year-old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep. A wise friend advised me to “get out of your head and do something with your hands.” I’ve been knitting ever since.

It came as no surprise that I was sad on this day. Grace died on a beautiful spring morning much like this one—unseasonably warm, periwinkle sky, cloudless.

Remembering that day, I started to cry. And a question popped into my mind: How many tears had I cried in my lifetime? Millions? Zillions? Gazillions? Definitely gazillions, I decided.

I was 64 and like most people my age, I’d had my share of heartbreaks, going all the way back to when Peter Hayhurst dumped me my junior year to two failed marriages, the loss of my brother, my parents, Grace.

Another thought popped into my head: I should have collected all those tears. Saved them. Labeled them so I would remember when and why I cried them.

And then my writer’s brain did that magic thing it does: a character presented himself. A character who not only collected people’s tears but preserved them. In a museum. The Museum of Tears! Just like that, my knitting was discarded, my tears dried, and I was at my computer starting my next novel.

By the time I read Kay’s post Let’s Go: A Garter Stripe Temperature Blanket for 2022 on January 6, I had about 50 pages about my guy collecting tears. He lived in Naples, Italy, and worked creating presepi, the nativities that Naples is famous for.

His story began before World War II, some time in the 1930s, and I’d written many scenes about him collecting people’s tears, including a young Sophia Loren’s. But I was stuck.

Apparently, a collector of tears did not a novel make. But 392 garter ridges and 22 balls of Rowan Felted Tweed did make—or at least start—a temperature blanket. I looked at all the beautiful colors of Rowan Tweed, the Cumin and Zinnia, the Maritime and Ginger, the Rage.

I did not need to take on such an enormous project, I told myself. I needed to write a book, I reminded myself.

The yarn arrived a few days later.

By that afternoon, my daughter Annabelle, a better organizer than I, had it arranged by color, the colors associated with temperatures, a chart printed out, and all of it in two plastic bins with 11 compartments each.

I checked the temperature—16 degrees—looked at my chart, picked up a ball of Alabaster, and cast on 392 stitches. For the rest of that winter, I knit two garter ridges a day, the icy blues interrupted by blazing golds and oranges during a trip to Mexico, then slowly turning to greens—Vaseline, Electric, Lime—as spring arrived.

As I knit my temperature blanket, another story began to take shape. What if someone was asked to make a life and death decision and for the rest of his life he worried he’d made the wrong one? By the time Pink Bliss and Barbara were taking turns with each other, the man had a name—Nick—and his decision became clear.

During World War I (a war I’m fascinated by, so that’s why he landed in a trench in France), he was given valuable paintings and a baby to save from the approaching German troops, and he’d left the baby in an empty village square.

I started missing garter ridges because I was writing so much. But I would catch up, adding rows of Scarlet and Rage through that hot summer. By fall, Nick, now at the end of his life, had decided to return to France and find out what happened as a result of his decision. Did someone find the baby? And rescue him?

If he was nineteen in 1917, Nick was too old to travel alone. He had to hire someone to help him. I did some math. If I set the story in the early 1970s, I could write about the very time I was a teenager and use all the songs and movies and clothes I remembered.

Nick would hire a young woman about the age I was in college, and together they would go to France and unravel the mystery.

Another winter meant rows and rows of Seafarer, Seasalter, and Maritime. My blanket was growing and so was my novel. Every afternoon when the sky grew dark, I curled up on the couch, consulted my chart, and knit my blanket and my story.

Nick and Jenny found clues, left France for Italy, tracked down former soldiers in Tuscany, Rome…and Naples. Wait! I put my needles down. They were at The Museum of Tears! After all these days and months, I’d knit my way back to the man who collected tears. I’d knit a novel.

By that fall, I was immersed in moving Annabelle to college, relocating from Providence to our pied a terre in Greenwich Village, revising the novel, now called The Stolen Child.

My almost finished temperature blanket stayed behind in Providence, frozen in Fjord and Ciel. But like novels, I can’t leave a knitting project unfinished.

The Stolen Child entered the world in May, and it’s time for me to figure out how the only survivor of a plane crash, a woman from the future, and the Spanish flu can be knit into one story. In other words, it’s time to finish my temperature blanket.

About The Author

Ann Hood is the author of fifteen books, including the international bestseller The Knitting Circle and the memoir Fly Girl, which is about her days as a TWA flight attendant from the late ’70s to the mid ’80s. Her new novel, The Stolen Child, will be published in May.


  • I love Ann Hood’s books and I can’t wait to read this one!

    • Looking forward to reading your latest book!

    • Thank you!

      • I am definitely going to look for your books!!!

  • Oh, my! What a wonderful way to start my day and set it off in the perfect direction. Thank you.

    • Have a good day!

  • Wonderful story. Now to begin reading Ann Hood. Thank you.

    • Oh, thank you!

  • What an interesting story about the birth of a novel. It has such an intriguing premise. Annabelle sounds like a gem! I do believe I have some Pink Bliss and Barbara and maybe some Rage in my stash. They make feel so happy.

    • Yes! Happy indeed!

  • I just finished The Knitting Circle 2 days ago. Now I know which of your books to read next. Thank you for all your wonderful writing.

    • Thank you for reading!

  • A wonderful gem of a post. Can’t wait to read the lost child and am now inspired to start a temperature blanket.

    • It’s such a fun project! I hope you enjoy The Stolen Child.

  • What a wonderful essay! I’m excited to read the book now. As it happens, I’m making the “other” blanket–the Kaffe Fassett garter stripe, which also comes with a giant box of Rowan Felted Tweed, just like in your picture–and the balls of Pink Bliss and Clay that happen to be sitting next to my laptop screen are an obvious match for the stripes in the first picture. (And the stripe I’m currently knitting is the third color in that picture, Iris.) I’m also using my stripes as a way to break up writing projects, though I’m afraid I’m prone to keep knitting and knitting–just one more stripe!–and push off the writing. Maybe this essay will help inspire me to keep this most delicious form of procrastination in balance with writer’s discipline! Can’t wait to read this novel and your next one, too!

    • Yes, it is the most delicious form of procrastination!

  • Wow! Just Wow!

    • Thank you, Wendy, for reminding us that there IS one who collects all our tears and truly cares and LOVES us all… unconditionally! We simply have to ask Him into our hearts!!

  • Wonderful tale

  • There is someone who collects our tears in a bottle. God.
    Psalm 56:8
    You keep track of all my sorrows. You have put my tears in your bottle
    Wrote David

    • Thank you, Wendy, for reminding us that there IS one who collects all our tears and truly cares and LOVES us all… unconditionally! We simply have to ask Him into our hearts!!

  • Cannot believe Annabelle is in college !! Where does the time go? Looking forward to reading the book!

    • I can’t believe it either!

  • Thank you for article. I love the way your story developed and progress with your blanket. I’m off to look up your new book!

  • So much of this resonates with me… I can’t wait to read your book!! Looking forward to seeing your finished blanket, too, I hope!

  • Man, can you write! Can’t wait to read your newest book. What a fascinating look into the plot development, thank you. And now I am definitely going to start a temperature blanket with the Rowan felted tweed that I’ve been collecting. One question – how did you weave in all of the ends? Any chance it’s as you go…..

  • I work in a library and immediately jumped up to see if The Stolen Child was here. I can’t wait to start this ….. OK so I didn’t wait I just read the first chapter and then put it back on the cataloging shelf. What a great beginning I can’t wait to settle in and read the rest.

  • That was wonderful. Thank you.

  • Thank you for sharing – all of it. Good from sorrow. I needed this.

  • I love felted tweed! It’s one of my favorite yarns. I’m making a color work sweater with this yarn.

  • Fascinating. I’ve had a love affair with Rowan Felted tweed for years. Just finishing my fourth afghan and many projects in between. The book sounds amazing. Can’t wait to get started. Knit/write on!

  • I loved the Knitting Circle. I first read it after I relocated to Madison after the death of my husband….. closer to my kids, a fresh start. My daughter in law’s mom was not only a good friend but a beautiful knitter and that started my journey with knitting, which then helped me meet new friends as we found various spots to sit and knit and have coffee. My family was bursting with knitted scarves! Several years later, enter a new fella in my life and we were blessed with ten lovely years. He died this past November from Alzheimer’s. It was a difficult journey and my “ knitting circle” of friends were great support. This spring my family and I and my daughter in law’s mom rented a house in Florida for a few weeks. I saw your book mentioned in a MDK post and I ordered Carolyn and I the book. When it came we looked at each other and said that it looked familiar to us, tho we couldn’t remember the story exactly. But we reread it, loved it again and for us, it helped us both …me with the loss of my husband and for her the loss of several siblings. We all suffer loss as you so well know and yet life moves on and we adjust and evolve in our own time. Thank you for this lovely book and I look forward to your new one!!! ❤️

  • I am looking forward to reading your book! This was a lovely piece and I love your writing. Even though it was years ago, I am so sorry you lost your daughter. Thank you for reminding us that knitting can help heal the heart.

  • “I did not need to take on such an enormous project, I told myself. I needed to write a book, I reminded myself. The yarn arrived a few days later.”

    Oh, how often have I had the same conversation with myself, with the same result? I’ve finally come to understand that this is part of the creative process, as you’ve described here. The energy to imagine a new project fuels and restores energy that shakes off the doldrums of an old one. So I will try not to beat myself up because I’ve got too many WIPs (why don’t you just finish something already?), or when I give into the urge to cast on something new. People talk about how they’ve lost or found their mojo; I think we’ve got to cultivate it.

    I look forward to reading this book!

  • Beautiful story and beautiful blanket. Thank you.

  • Sounds like a book I will read when its published, can’t wait…….

  • Love Ann Hood and can’t wait to read this new book. It was a joy to read this today. MDK you bring the best messages daily. Thankful for all of you

  • Wow! I’m hooked (crochet hooked?) on the idea of both the novel & the temperature blanket. No time to be bored now! Thanks for the inspirations!

  • So fun to be inside your mind!

  • Beautifully told and written. You have inspired me to roll my mind and imagination into creating a temperature blanket which tells a story too. Thank you for treating us with a glimpse into you.

  • This story tugged the heart strings and made me cheer when I realized that good came from the trauma. I too have knitted a blanket like this from too much wool and mohair stash…king size. When I take an afternoon nap (I’m post heart by-pass surgery that came a breath away from not surviving.), I roll myself up in these natural fibres for a perfect sleep. I continue to use my energy to produce knitted and woven items for charity.

  • Ann and I have some things in common. I was given the ability to knit the summer of 2000, mere months before one of my beautiful twins was taken from us by a drunk driver on St Patrick’s Day. Knitting saved me, got me through dark times and continues to do so. How appropriate on this May 3 the day between my daughter’s birthday and my boys birthday (5/2 and 5/4), this article arrived along with many clarinet pieces on my car radio. Chris was a clarinetist, he would be turning 43 tomorrow. Now i will go knit a bit some rows of a baby blanket and a section of short rows on my granddaughter Clara’s sweater…. Peace and solace through knitting Ann Hood. Thank you for your courage to share and thanks to MDK for publishing this essay today.

  • I loved The Knitting Circle! Thanks for your insights on knitting, healing and creating.

  • Thanks for writing this, Ann. Beautiful story! We lost our 35yr old son in December. I was just about to start reading The Knitting Circle and definitely will have to get The Stolen Child. One thing that has kept me going since December is knitting a blanket for our other son’s wedding in September.

    • Bless you, Linda. May knitting always bring you solace. You are not alone. Prayers for you and your family.

  • That is quite a feat to have 392 stitches cast on and 2 rows for each day. I have the Kaffe Fassett with 252 stitches and 15 colors and am still waiting to get to the middle. So that is a LOT of knitting, but wonderful meditative knitting that can swallow those tears as well as put them into your novel. Looking forward, as always to reading your work. Best wishes.

  • i am now a 71 y/ woman, who learned the basics of knitting for my father’s mother, my grandfather was always silent, but we adored each other. He and his four brothers all enlisted in the army during WWI, the war to end all wars. All but one of the boys came home. My grandfather had been missing in action and was found in a French Hospital after exposure to mustard gas. Although he lived well into his 90’s, he had PTSD and a lung disorder. He received The Purple Heart, BUT, I received an envelope of his letters home. Also, his brother Sam wrote a paper telling about his experiences overseas. Near the end of his life, he was able to find his brothers gravesite, in France and he broke down. That war was a living hell.

  • This is a wonderful story. Makes me want to make a blanket and finish my novel.

  • I just finished The Book That Matters Most. I loved it and now most of my knitting group is reading or listening to it. Will your new book, The Stolen Child, be available in audio format? My preference these days is to listen to a book while I knit.

  • Ann, thanks for the story, and for the pictures of your lovely blanket. I was mesmerized reading your post, so I went to Audible and pre ordered The Stolen Child (I have The Knitting Circle, and have listened to it twice). I can hardly wait till it’s released next week!

  • Ann Hood was an unknown author to me until I read Fly Girl which I recommend to all of you. She’s a good writer with deep insight. A funny memoir, Fly Girl is also a serious portrait of the air travel industry in its infancy back then. I look forward to an Ann Hood novel!

  • What a wonderful story. Now I just have to read Ann Hood

  • I just read The Knitting Circle. Now I know the sad inspiration for that one. A parent’s worst nightmare. I look forward to reading The Lost Child. Very fun to read about your thought process for the plot.

    • Oops. The Stolen Child. Sorry.

  • Brilliant! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I can hardly wait to read your book!

  • I love this. The story of creating the story is another story! I’m going to my local bookstore to get the Stolen Child – beautiful Ann!
    The best way to start the day – I miss you! And thanks for supporting the part of knitting that creates other work in the process.

  • Well, call me instantly captivated…! I shall acquire a copy for upcoming summer travels. The Museum of Tears brought to mind another book y’all might enjoy: The Museum of Whales You Will Never See, by A. Kendra Greene, about the many such museums to be found, or not, in Iceland. I think sheep and knitting might be mentioned a few times in that one.

  • Can’t wait to read this! I am also fascinated by the family quarrel that became WWI and the effect on the world. Thanks!

  • I love your books and that you’re a knitter! I started my temperature blanket the same time as you to commemorate our purchase of a new home in Vermont. Just hearing you mention the colors you used is bringing back those memories. Thanks so much for this short great read. Looking forward to reading the new book. PS my husband and I listened to Fly Girl on one of our trips from NJ to Vermont and I have recommended it to so many friends

  • Just pre-ordered on Audible!

  • Ann:
    If your book, Stolen Child, is halfway as interesting as your writing process, I can’t wait to read it!

  • I loved listening to you read Fly Girl. What a time you had. I need to read your novels! They are going right on my list.

  • I love this article and thoughts. I must now get your book and can’t wait to read that as well as the rest.
    Your losses are much like those I suffered. Losing a child is the worst kind of pain.
    Love that you wrote a story about all this!

  • Dear Ann,

    I enjoyed The Knitting Circle very much and look forward to reading your new novel,
    The Stolen Child. I was very moved by your books, Knitting Tales and Knitting Pearls. I have them on by bookshelf and have reread them as well as, gifted them to fellow knitter/readers. Thank you so much for your work and for your voice . I also turn to knitting and starting a new project as a way to gather myself and move through difficult emotions, anxiety and sadness. So very nice to hear from you and to see what you are knitting and writing.

  • Oops, that would be “Knitting Yarns” and “Knitting Pearls “

  • Beautiful short story about memories while knitting a Temperature blanket.
    I love crocheting, started one a few years ago, but get too involved with too many other crafts.
    I told myself I would choose a couple of crafts I enjoy the most and give the supplies of the ones I don’t enjoy much. Every time I try to declutter I will find something and decide I love those craft also.
    Still not much completed much of my decluttering.
    Not a good project for me but will keep trying.

  • Thank you for this delightful account of the process by which you engineered your novel whilst knitting. I too am a knitter and I find having my hands busy with a project, even when not consciously thinking of anything but the work, it’s as if your mind has gone off on its own, when solutions to problems just arrive when you’re’back in the room’ so to speak.

  • Your story timed out well after a crying jag over my husband’s memory loss and how it affects us. Yes, I learned to get “into my hands” too after my mother’s loss by crocheting snowflakes of goodwill nearing Christmas and even made a story about them, including unicorns; as my granddaughter loves them

  • Absolutely gorgeous to read this. Thank you so much. XOXO

  • Wow!!! I am a knitter, now in my 80’s and fascinated by knitting and novels and the connections you are able to make between them!
    I can’t wait to read “ The Stolen Child”!

  • Interesting story. Can I find your books in libraries, or should I purchase from Amazon?

  • Facing a summer of Zinnia, Barbara, snd probably Rage. I’m going to listen to your new book and finish this dang blanket.

  • Beautiful story. Beautiful blanket.

  • Thanks for sharing your writing process Ann; I love that procrastiknitting is part of it. I checked and my library doesn’t have your book, so I’ll buy it for my kindle.

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