"Sweater Quest" by Adrienne Martini

In her first book, "Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood", Adrienne Martini told of her crisis bringing a baby into the world, the terror of post-partum depression and her striving to find mental balance amidst changing realities.  Ms. Martini could impart her painful experiences with an amazing degree of wry humor ("my righteous indignation was growing like kudzu in a southern summer") and she was able to pull through.  Her readers would certainly be pulling for her. Things did settle down in her life, domesticity and parenting become a bit routine and on page 200 she mentions, "The rest of the time I filled with knitting hats, which I'd learned how to do after writing a story on local knitting groups" while working as a journalist in Knoxville, TN. Adrienne, her husband and daughter Maddy moved from Knoxville to Oneonta, NY, where she now teaches writing at SUNY Oneonta, is raising a second child and is still knitting. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-904013.mp3

Adrienne's son joined the family without the stresses of her first pregnancy and her second book is entitled "Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously".  She has woven together (sorry, it's inevitable that you'll be needled by knitting puns) chapters on wool from the Shetland Islands, English knitting techniques, British history and the physical/mental/emotional challenge of knitting a sweater in the complicated style called Mary Tudor.  She tells about how her new avocation attracted her to bigger challenges, more complex patterns and difficult materials, all the while keeping her life in focus.  She spins a good yarn (well, not literally yet).  But beyond explaining the intricacies of knit and purl and the various numbering schemes for needles on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Adrienne Martini shares experiences that contributed to newfound steadiness as a mother, a knitter and simply a human being. "I'm gobsmacked at how quickly my hands picked up the skill.  It took me the better part of a semester to master a decent do-si-do when I took square dancing as a PE credit in college.

"A Sudden Gift of Fate" by Mary Pat Hyland

The Irish are famous for many things -- music and dance, beautiful linen, old castles, whiskey -- but cultivating vineyards and making wine hasn't been one of them.  There is a fine Celtic concoction called Meade, but you wouldn't be likely to find a Chardonnay or Riesling from the Emerald Isle.  So when a newlywed Irish couple receives the keys to a run-down winery in the Finger Lakes Region of New York it does not bode to be the most successful grafting that's been attempted.  The new life of Fergal and Brídgeen Griffin is only one angle in Mary Pat Hyland's new novel "A Sudden Gift of Fate". There is also the powerful relationship between Binghamtonians Maeve Kenny and Andy Krall -- a relationship that was nurtured by Andy's rescue of Maeve after her promising New York City public relations career fell apart.  She hopes to find her way back to personal stability as much as she hopes for new stem cell treatment that will free Andy from his paraplegia. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-885668.mp3

"A Sudden Gift of Fate" is the sequel to Mary Pat Hyland's 2008 debut novel "The Cyber Miracles". She has again drawn on her own Irish heritage and upstate New York upbringing to write of places and situations she knows well.  The novel is filled with descriptions of procedures for growing grapes and making wine, familiar geography of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier of New York and expressions in Irish Gaelige, which Mary Pat speaks fluently (there is a glossary at the end of the book). Fergal and Bridgeen rename their winery Lochmare, Irish for "finger lakes".