Knitting a community together with hats

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After 21 books, Warren Hanson finally said yes.

Hanson, a prolific St. Anthony Park author and illustrator, has people approach him all the time with “this great idea for a book.”

“I’ve learned many diplomatic ways of saying no,” Hanson said.

But when his longtime friend and neighbor Kiki Gore called in the summer of 2005, Hanson agreed to listen to an idea she had.

The result was “Kiki’s Hats,” Hanson’s 22nd book, and the first one based on a real person.

Warren Hanson will appear at a pubication party at the Red Balloon Bookshop, 891 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, on Saturday, October 20 at 10:30 a.m.

The book tells the story of Kiki, who loves to knit hats, which she gives away. Furthermore, Kiki encourages the recipients of her hats to take an extra one and give it to someone else. Eventually, the hats end up all over the world.

The woman in Hanson’s book doesn’t look like Kiki Gore, but the real Kiki is indeed a knitter of hats. A retired teacher, Gore said she started knitting 65 years ago.

“I’m addicted to knitting,” she said. “I guess you could call me a ‘chain knitter’ instead of a chain smoker. I’m never without my knitting.”

While the book is Hanson’s creation, he did consult with Gore during the process, and he used scanned textures from one of her hats to help create the book’s textured drawings.

“The drawings for this book took a long time to finish,” Hanson said. “In fact, for the first time I had to ask my publisher for an extension so that I could complete the illustrations.”

Hanson said he hopes the book finds an audience beyond children and knitters.

“The book is about doing something for others that outlasts you,” he said. “I think that message should resonate with a lot of people.”

Hanson and Gore will sign copies of the book at Micawber’s on October 20 at 2 p.m.