I was raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. Here’s a painting of it by Homer artist Brad Hughes.
My mom was deckhand and I lived on board with her. I can trace at least part of my love for reading to her, as literally one of my first memories is her forefinger running beneath the words, “Once upon a time in a faraway land lived a beautiful princess named Snow White.” I was reading long before I got to kindergarten.
I was also knitting, also taught at my mother’s knee. Looking back, I realize now that she must have been terrified that if she didn’t get me interested in something to do inside that I would be outside on deck. Where I could screw around and fall overboard. (Which I did do, anyway. There was this seagull, and I had a cracker, and well, never mind.)
So Mom taught me to knit. I still have my first paperback instruction book, which consists mostly of garter stitch rectangles. I moved on to more interesting items eventually, in particular what in retrospect feels like approximately 327 baby afghans. I have fertile friends who had even more fertile children.
I’ve moved on from baby afghans, too, thankfully. One of my recent proud moments as a knitter is pictured below.
The yarn was made by a friend, Astrid Bear of Damselfly Yarns. In a moment of genius, she named it Clown Barf. So…I made a Clown Barf Scarf.
Kate Shugak doesn’t knit. Neither does Liam Campbell. (Don’t scoff, Scotsmen used to knit in days gone by). Star Svensdotter does, though. Alert fans will remember that when last seen, Little Elizabeth was wearing a sweater Star knit for her.
Nowadays, I’m part of a group called Knitting Around, made of women all of whom are infinitely more skilled knitters than I am. In particular I think of Jeri, who has the annoying habit of looking at a pattern one week and wearing the finished product to group the following week. I’m also on Ravelry. Right now I’m working on a fisherman’s watch cap, one of three for friends who need something to keep their ears warm when they’re fishing for king salmon on the Kenai River.
I remember knitting an Aran sweater for my nephew Tim some years ago at the same time I was working out a particularly knotty plot problem for a Kate Shugak novel. I’d write a paragraph or a page, get stuck, and go knit a couple of rows, come back, write another paragraph, repeat.
Dana Stabenow was born in Anchorage and raised on 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. She knew there was a warmer, drier job out there somewhere and found it in writing. Her first science fiction novel, Second Star, sank without a trace (but has since been resurrected as an e-book), her first crime fiction novel, A Cold Day for Murder, won an Edgar award, her first thriller, Blindfold Game, hit the New York Times bestseller list, and her twenty-eighth novel and nineteenth Kate Shugak novel, Restless in the Grave, comes out February 14, 2012.