Monday, October 26, 2009

Yarn Harlot

This next statement may seem like an oxymoron but I swear to you that it is true. Last night I was reading a knitting book and laughing so hard I was crying. Over the weekend I picked up a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter and breezed through it. I literally sat down on the couch at about seven and was almost finished by midnight. I devoured this book and with good's hilarious and oh so true.

I had picked up McPhee's At Knits End a couple years ago and had been reading periodically through it. That book is mostly little snippets (less than a page) about one aspect of knitting along with some great quotes. Yarn Harlot is a series of personal essays about projects McPhee has worked, letters to fictitous designers, and yarn stash related stories. One letter to a designer was so hilarious that I had tears rolling down my cheeks. When finished with the letter, I handed the book over to Jeff who laughed as well (non-knitter that he is). It was a fake apology to the designer for all the names she had called her the previous night while trying to knit a sock. Things like "colossal waste of time," "out of your everloving mind", and my favorite "a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa". The whole letter was hilarious and I could easily see myself cursing a bad design in far less hilarious, but more colorful words.

Any knitters in the group will know the pull of a good yarn store and the practically standard purchasing of yarn you don't need. I myself own an entire cabinet full of yarn, some of which I freely admit will never be knit into anything. And remember I've only been knitting for a little over three years. McPhee talks about all of this, telling us with humor and a bit of horror the stories of her knitting life. One of my favorite essays is one on how to properly stash your yarn when it fills you closets. She suggests freezers (mothfree even), rarely used baking pans, sleeves of coats and suits, and tucked into the couch cushions. She talks about her family's response to her obsessive knitting and yarn collecting. Then again, this is a woman who buys yarn with cash so she won't leave a paper trail.
I loved the stories in the book and I still have two or three essays that I couldn't finish last night. I pushed until midnight to finish but finally had to go to bed. I would have been done sooner but when I was about half way through the book I had to set it down (hilarious as it is) and pick up my needles. I suddenly just wanted to knit. I consider a book about a hobby successful when I can't even get through it and already want to be working on that hobby. I did the same thing with Writing Down the Bones. I was writing even before the middle of the book. Yarn Harlot just made me laugh, made me appreciate the beautiful (and sometimes frustrating) hobby that is knitting, and more importantly it made me want to knit. A must have book for any knitter in your life.

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