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The Yarn Whisperer

Jan 22, 2014

I was yarn shopping when I first found out about The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes. A few weeks later, a copy made its way to my door (thank you, Dad!) just in time to take it on an international trip for the holidays. This book and a few of my own hats-in-progress entertained me on my series of flights. I know I don’t speak for every knitter and yarn-lover out there, but I have a feeling that if you fall into either or both of those categories, you’ll enjoy reading this book.

Parkes, a “knitting rock star,” takes the reader on a trip that explores parallels between knitting and life outside of the yarn-centric craft over the course of 22 heartfelt essays. She delves into an explanation of bobbles as they are, and how they represent something deeper and very meaningful in her life because of her grandmother. She takes us with her to revisit her childhood, when her parents decided to divorce, and compares this time to a poorly prepared and executed steeking job. She descriptively illustrates how knitting is similar to dancing, driving, and gardening, and tells the story of her coming to terms with her less-than-favorite purl stitch. We learn the story of when she completely changed her own life, moving from California at her technology magazine job to live in Maine to live on a restored family farm and create her life as a knitting expert.

Parkes references her experience working with Interweave a few times with funny anecdotes about manicures and finally championing the long-feared Kitchener stitch. As a new Interweave employee, these references made me smile and get excited about this slight connection I now know I have with the author.

Along with all of the narratives outlined here, Parkes also probes many other knitting techniques in order to make sense of comparable experiences many of us have in life.  She explains the techniques themselves in such a basic way that a non-knitter can appreciate this book just as much as someone already familiar with the casting on, brioche knitting, and how to pick up a dropped stitch. With this book, Clara Parkes is helping us make life’s tangles a little more manageable. After all, it really does take a Yarn Whisperer to untangle an unruly ball of treasured yarn. (Seriously, it can be super difficult.)

Lastly, here is a lovely interview with Clara Parkes for your listening pleasure. Have you read any great books about knitting or yarn lately?

-Hannah


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