Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Karen Anna Vogel on her new series, Amish Friends Knitting Circle

When I got done writing Amish Knitting Circle, I felt so sad. The series that took 30 weeks to write was over and I’d miss Granny Weaver and her girls. Although “Granny Weaver” is real and I can visit her in Smicksburg, I never thought I could be so attached to the fictionalized version of her. So I went to Amish Literature Fans on Facebook and posted, “I’m so sad it’s all over.” Well, so were they, and protested. “You can’t stop! I feel like I’m one of Granny’s girls,” many said. But I felt taking readers through an Amish summer and autumn would be boring. There are no Amish holidays and they work from sun up to sundown. They literally make hay when the sun shines. But the group asked me about work frolics, auctions, barn raisings, canning bees…. Well, I’m so familiar with the Amish, I didn’t think those things would be interesting. But then I thought about my book Knit Together: An Amish Knitting Novel and what if I had the Baptist join the Amish to knit for the homeless. It’s something I can write about from experience, since I went to a tiny Baptist church in Upstate, NY and saw the harmony and conflict with the neighboring Amish. So, in Amish Friends Knitting Circle, Granny Weaver invites the Baptist in town to knit for the homeless. Characters from Knit Together will go, such as Janice Jackson and a girl from Forget-Me-Not Manor, a refuge for homeless moms. Of course, Suzy will be invited to teach the Amish how to knit with needles instead of looms. And, Marge, Granny’s new neighbor who’s living off-the grid, will also attend, getting too “religious” for her atheist husband, Joe. The conversations that take place at the knitting circle are very believable because some will be real, based on some of my conversations with Amish women. What most people don’t realize is that the Amish are open to advice from the English, once you’re a trusted friend. Their humility always amazes me. They’re not as cloistered as many imagine, and I hope to bring this out in this new eight part series. And like Amish Knitting Circle, many women’s issues will be solved, the Amish way…with the help of their Baptist friends.

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