Vogue Knitting Editor Trisha Malcolm chatted with New York Times best-selling author Susan Wiggs ahead of this summer's knitting trip to Wiggs' hometown of Bainbridge Island.
TM: When did you learn to knit?
SW: I have no memory of learning to knit, the same way I have no memory of learning to make up stories. I actually have samples of writing from when I was a toddler and I would make up stories and tell my mother “write this down”, and since she was a great mom she did. With knitting, I had that grandmother that just had that knitting magic. We all remember “that basket”, from our childhoods, and I just remember delving into my grandmother’s basket. I do remember poking with the knitting needles, and she used sock needles with rubber bands on the ends and would let me play with them, and I would try to emulate her gestures. And I can’t even remember when I really started knitting, but I remember looking down at a little stockinette square and saying, “Look what I did!”
But I am a lifelong knitter, as are my mother and my daughter, so it’s a generational thing in our family.
TM: Is there knitting in your novels?
SW: You know, it’s so much a part of everyday life for me I barely even think about it, but yes, people knit in my novels. If the characters are sitting somewhere having a conversation in a certain setting, of course somebody’s going to be knitting! I can’t think of a book where it actually takes center stage, but it’s something that people do just to relax and create. My novels are about drama and deep conflict, and for me knitting is the opposite of that. It would be hard for me to write a dramatic, struggling scene where somebody’s knitting. Now I’m thinking that I should challenge myself to do a knitting scene in the aftermath of a big drama…or after a big love scene! Maybe instead of lighting up a cigarette, they should get out their knitting.
TM: Do you knit alone or with other people?
SW: Almost always with friends and family around, because I’m not very portable, I’m not organized enough. I’ve always been envious of people who have that knitting bag with everything in there. When I’m home and we’re sitting around talking or watching tv is when I knit. Living on Bainbridge Island, there is knitting all over. People are knitting on the ferry. For a while it was a huge thing with the high school girls, they would all be knitting on the ferry together. I would love to see them put their phones away and do more knitting!
TM: Tell us a little bit about Churchmouse on Bainbridge Island.
SW: What a lovely shop, isn’t it? You know, when it started about fifteen years ago, I thought, really? Just a knitting shop? In a town as small as Bainbridge? But they’ve really turned it into a destination and I love it. I’m so proud of that shop, I love taking people there, seeing their faces when they walk through the door. It’s going to be so much fun this summer when we take people there and they get to take it all in.
TM: What do you like to knit?
SW: You know, I’m going to be sixty years old this year, so I don’t like labor-intensive things. I used to do a lot of fair isle knitting, I was really good at it (but not shaping and sizing!) Now I like chunky knits and big needles, chunky handspun wools. Right now I’m using this beautiful ocean blue. I’m going on an Atlantic crossing with readers in May, so I’m all about colors of blue right now and this really caught my eye.  
TM: And you live surrounded by water.
SW: Totally. Right now as we speak, 20 meters from my feet is Puget Sound. I’m very lucky, very spoiled, and it’s one of those epic, gorgeous days. Thank you for picking a July weekend for this trip, because that’s optimal. It will be perfect weather, in the 70s during the day, low 50s at night, water everywhere and blue skies as far as you can see. And of course Mount Rainier, our mother mountain, looking over everything. July is always a good bet in the northwest. We don’t have plagues of flies or bees or mosquitoes or anything, it’s so temperate and pleasant here. When I decided to go full time as a writer, I knew I wanted to live somewhere beautiful where I could work from home. I also wanted to be practical though, and since Washington has no state income tax, off I went.
TM: Any knitting wisdom?
SW: You know….no. I have the opposite. Knitting imparts the wisdom to you. It makes you be patient. It makes you trust, when you’re casting on stitches and thinking this is never going to be right. Patience and trust are things which in other areas of my life might be in short supply, so if you’re looking for more patience and trust in your life, try knitting.
I am so excited about this trip. It’s my favorite place, my favorite time of year, and the itineraries for both Bainbridge and Seattle are perfect. Everything you need for a weekend is there. It’s pretty much everything I would say to do.