Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Book Review

Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter book review
* Disclosure

I just finished reading the book: Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and wanted to share my thoughts and review about this book.

The book consists of a compilation of little stories, letters, and essays. Of course all of them related to knitting.
All of them are just a few pages long or even less, the shortest stories are merely one page long. Which makes it a quick read, if you divide it by each story or essay.

The book is not presented with a particular order, or a least it doesn’t seem like it. As they don’t share much when it comes to dates and what came first or last.

Although they are divided into 5 little groups:

  1. The red wool of courage: Or, Projects I have known and loved
  2. Twenty thousand skeins under the bed: Or, stash and why you want it
  3. Dangerous liaisons: Or, Yarn can be addictive
  4. War and Pieces: Or, you can’t win them all
  5. My family, and other works in progress

In total, she shares 37 short stories. Some of these stories are presented as letters to pattern designers and other knitters.
The way she wrote those letters makes me think they are for fun purposes only, and that she never, in fact, mailed those letters.
I couldn’t find anywhere in the book a clarification of said letters. If they were in fact mailed to the pattern designers, or if it was just a way to rant in a passive way, while also sharing some fun and jokes about encountered problems in her purchased patterns.

Mailed or not, they are fun to read.

The author shares stories filled with knitting, but they are just part of the mix, as she shares frustrations, her obsession with yarn and not wanting to knit her stash, her wins in knitting lace and other topics that blend seamlessly with the lives of knitters.The first story is a tale of joy and frustration. She starts by joyfully announcing the wedding of her brother, and how she decides to knit the wedding gift, an oversized heirloom afghan. Big enough to cover the couple. She writes ow she went about to choose the design and the yarn. How she started to knit square by square… But then started to get tired of the project. How she left it for later, and when later came how she rushes over more squares to be knitted. And at the end of the story, very sneakily she mentions how they received a gravy boat for their wedding.

I too had a project like that years ago. It was a granny square dress. Made of two color yarns. The sample showed a black and white dress, but I although I liked the main design, I was going to work and a teal and white dress. No chess board for me, it would not suit my style nor my body type.

And so I started to make square after square, after making many of the white one, I decided to change things up a bit by starting to make som of the teal squares. Even though I haven’t finished the required number of white squares, but I was getting rather bored. Then, after making the same number of teal squares as I had made white ones, I decided to start joining them. (Remember that I haven’t made enough to make the whole dress). This was my first project worked in pieces, and I had never joined pieces before. I tried a row of single crochet, but It didn’t look good, as it has hidden in one color, but VERY noticeable with the next. Anyway, keeping my long story short, I decided to give the project a rest. And I am sure you guessed it right, I never came back to it. Somewhere there is a pile of white and teal granny squares. Maybe they were thrown away already as they stayed in my mother’s house when I married. Also, I never asked for them.

Overall is a good book. It will keep you entertained. It will make you laugh with most stories, and it could also make you feel that you relate to some of her more frustrated knitting adventures. Like comparing her story with the my onw, as I shared above.

My favorite and the not so favorite:

One story I particularly enjoyed and made me a little anxious too is the one where she shares a squirrel was robbing her wool and fiber as she set it outside to dry.
It was almost a thriller as she wants to defend her wool, but the not so lovely squirrel decided to attack her and defend the wool.
I really couldn’t put the book down because I need to know how it all ended!
I was so worried about all the lost wool, and also intrigued about how she would solve her little problem.

That being said, there is also one little story I was not very fond of. Since I prefer to be positive I will be brief about it, and besides most of you won’t care.

The way she writes about people who crochet, or knit and crochet, which I do both, is a little offensive I believe.

I will remain positive, and just think that is part of her “being fun” strategy, and she is only joking. As most of her readers are in fact knitters and not crocheters.

Even with that bad taste that the “crochet story” left in my head, I really enjoyed the book. Is funny, it shares the joys and frustrations that often comes with knitting and other yarn arts. (Stashing yarn is not exclusive to knitting)

If you’re a reader and a knitter like me, I am sure you will enjoy this compilation of stories and letters. But if you also happen to be a crocheter, maybe skip the crochet story.
Let me tell you, that if you don’t skip it, you were warned, and let’s just see it as a joke from our friends that exclusively knit. Maybe those who exclusively crochet also have their own jokes about knitters.

If the review made you want to read the book for yourself, you can find it here:

Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter book review*


Happy Knitting and reading!


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