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Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,965 ratings  ·  364 reviews
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's deepest wish is that everyone understand that knitting is at least as fun as baseball and way cooler than the evil looped path of crochet. Every project, from a misshapen hat to the most magnificent sweater, holds a story. Yarn Harlot tells all those stories with humor, insight, and sympathy for the obsessed.

Over 50 million people in America knit.
Paperback, 219 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
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14th out of 115 books — 197 voters
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5th out of 57 books — 68 voters

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Community Reviews

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Apr 24, 2008 Dawn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: crafters
Recommended to Dawn by: Jane Luce
Honestly, I laughed out loud, I cried silently, I saw myself on nearly every page--and I can barely knit! This is a book about addictions--the healthy ones--that all of us find ourselves tangled up with at some point in our lives, and we find that we are suddenly obsessive/compulsive about something and just don't know how to "put it down". Since there seems to be no cure, we do our best to make the activity meaningful not only for ourselves, but also for our families and others around us. I fee ...more
JoAnna Spring
Knitting humor.

Seriously! It is fun stuff. Nearly as fun as blocking your first lace shawl or rolling around naked in your yarn stash.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, is a knitter, a mum (she's Canadian), a doula, the inventor of the word "kinnearing" and a super fun writer. I've been reading her blog for a few months and finally picked up one of her books. Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter is described as "a sort of David Sedaris-like take on knitting," but it is really so m
I crochet. I already have a yarn stash which is defying the laws of physics, and making my housemates a little nervous. I've taught my best friend to crochet, and one of my housemates is in the process of learning. (We're incredibly proud of a very, very long row of chain stitches, which are going to become -- eventually -- a scarf for my teddy bear.)

My girlfriend knits. I own a full length replica of the scarf Tom Baker wore as the Eighth Doctor, on Doctor Who, knitted for me by her. I have a k
Jane Stewart
2 ½ stars. Readers who knit might enjoy this. It’s not for me.

I did not laugh. There are 37 chapters. Each one is like an amusing personal essay. For example: First chapter is the author’s attempt to knit a large afghan. The project is too big, and she has trouble staying motivated. Second chapter is the author and a friend each knitting a sweater. Problems include running out of yarn and fixing the size. Third chapter is about the author knitting a cardigan for herself. I only read those three
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is an awesome writer who can take an ordinary story and make it sound like the funniest knitting story you have ever read. I love reading her books because they cause side-splitting laughter and that my friends, is a good thing.
I skimmed through this book fairly quickly since it is a bit of a guilty light-reading for me. For a non-knitter this book would probably make no sense whatsoever. For someone who has is slowly being pulled into the lure of the craft, the book is slightly amusing and mildly entertaining, reading like a series of blog entries. It consists of short stories and essays, ranging from falling in love with lace knitting, the excruciating pains of knitting gifts for Christmas, and the infamous yarn stas ...more
Staphanie spins a good yarn.....(get it!!!) about the secret lives of knitters.......their life of stash concealmet.............., their unrealistic goal setting.............. their frustrationa with deisgners....their wool fetishs. I laughed out loud many times as I recognized my habits of my friends ............and my own off and on again relationship with this most wonderful craft.

I had two favorite chapters. One is very serious as she is requested to take on the stash of a very dear friend w
Jennifer Johnson
I loved this book! It's my favorite "Pearl-McPhee" so to speak. She at one point is beyond hilarious and the next moment she can bring you in and break your heart. Knitters and crafters alike will enjoy her insight, her humor and most of all, her passion for her craft.

I think it's not secret that I'm pretty passionate about knitting. It's something that I do that I honestly feel truely happy while doing it... even when I'm fucking up brilliantly or struggling with the shame of an unfinished proj
Thoroughly comforting and totally entertaining. Perfect for my post-root canal mood (read cranky, irritable and a little sore, but still resisting the Vicodin)

My favorite was the list of 10 ways that parenting and knitting are alike (especially 1, 2, 5 and 7. I know nothing about 3, but I believe it):

1. You have to work on something for a really long time before you know if it's going to be okay.
2. They both involve an act of creation involving common materials, easily found around the home.
3. B
I don't know if you have to be a knitter to enjoy this book, but being a knitter I laughed, I cried, and I recognized myself in the pages. I read some sections aloud to my husband who also laughed, but probably in sympathy to the author's husband who knows what it is like to live with someone who covers every room in the house with works in progress. If you have a knitter in your life you should read this to better understand the way their brain works, or it would make an excellent gift for said ...more
I know I'm probably in the minority here, but this book just didn't do it for me, like it has [apparently:] for a lot of other knitters. I didn't even finish it, to be perfectly honest.

It wasn't awful, and some things did make me laugh or smile, so I'm not saying it is a total waste of time. It's just that I find a lot of other knitters' blogs to be more interesting, and a lot funnier than this book. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's blog itself is often better than this book. I know it's the first one
Alesha Hubbell
I love reading about knitting. It is so inspiring to me as a fiber artist. Plus this book is very funny and relatable to knitters and non-knitters alike. There were also some very poignant and touching moments where I teared up a bit, which of course just inspired more kniiting.
I've almost never laughed harder. Maybe you have to be a knitter to really get it, but I don't think so. I think even those of you unfortunates who can't or won't knit will laugh out loud.
Definitely a good read! Though parts are dry there are some "Ah-ha!" moments where I see myself in her scenarios.... there are also some that made me laugh really hard!
I love these books! The author is so funny and she makes me feel like a competent knitter.
I laughed the whole way through this relatable knitting tale.
Jennifer Burns
For a second, I didn't like this book. Who is this whiny, over committed knitter with a million things on her needles who lets a squirrel repeatedly steal her yarn stash out of her yard? But, then I read the story about her moth the story about her friend who is allergic to wool... and then the knitter whose arthritis doesn't allow her hands to knit anymore. The Yarn Harlot definitely has a heart and a lot of spunk. She writes stories that only a knitter can appreciate and I real ...more
Before I start discussing The Secret Life of a Knitter, I need to make something perfectly clear. I love Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s writing. She has never released a book that I didn’t enjoy immensely and I read her blog religiously and really enjoy her particular style of wit and humor and thoughtfulness that comes through time and time again in her writing. Having said all that, The Secret Life of a Knitter is, without a doubt, the best thing she has ever written. It made me laugh, which is noth ...more
This was a cute, quick read I received in a trade through BookCrossing.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has been blogging about knitting and the fiber arts since 2005 on her website, Yarn Harlot. This book, rather than being a chronological narrative, is made up of short essays and stories (some taken from her blog and some written for the book). They're all autobiographical, and reading the book is like reading her diary: they're all about the trials and triumphs of her daily knitting experiences. Some
Aimee Keithan
Knitters, read this book! I'm a knitter, as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee would say, not a Knitter (with a capital K). But no matter what level of knitting you're at, this book highlights the humorous quirks of a life that involves this crazy, addicting craft. If you have ever wondered if you are alone in picking projects to big for your eyes, the Green Afghan chapter will let you know you are in good company. If you are looking for creative ways to hide your stash, Steph's got that covered for you too ...more
Much like the other book by this author, I picked this one up on my kindle because I've read her blog and enjoyed her writing style. This book is a series of stories/vignettes/observations, loosely linked by topic into chapters, and was probably taken from some of her blog posts. I very much enjoyed reading this, although admittedly if I'd already read all of them on her blog then it would be less entertaining. I still like her writing style and descriptions, as well as some of the more poignant ...more
Katie Kenig
Let me start out by saying that I would have pushed this to three and a half stars if that were possible here, but I just couldn't push it to a four.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a knitting blogger. Yarn Harlot is, I'm guessing, scraped from blog content. That's not necessarily a bad thing; there are books of that type that I've loved, and that have introduced me to blogs that I now follow and am a huge fan of. But I wasn't expecting it with this book, and for some reason, the disjointed nature of t
Rarely do I giggle out loud with books, but I seem to quite a lot with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's writing. It is my kind of humor. Reading this book motivated me to pick my needles up and knit more frequently the past week. I feel inspired to knit, knit, knit, and accept it if I am starting to show symptoms of becomming a Knitter (with a capital K).

This book is a collection of knitting-related essays. Knitting has infiltrated just about every aspect of Pearl-McPhee's life and she is all the bette
A fun collection of mostly cute (sometimes sad, sometimes ridiculous) stories and musings about the life of a knitter. A lot of it translates to any artistic endeavor: having a stash of materials you will never use but need to store somehow, family members that just don't GET IT and the eternal question of whether to start all over (or give up entirely) when a project doesn't go well. I laughed, I cried and I considered digging in my closet to find my knitting needles I bought years ago.
Kristina Wilson
Much preferred Free-Range Knitter to this one. This is earlier, so presumably her voice wasn't as developed. I had a hard time getting past the first few stories: she came off as rather snobby and I found it hard to relate to her in those instances, maybe because I'm still a knitter and not a Knitter. Then I was finally rewarded with stories of the same tone and calibre as I read in Free-Range Knitter. Pearl-McPhee is at her best when she is simultaneously amusing and tugging at the heartstrings ...more
IF you love to knit (or maybe even crochet) you MUST read this book. Roger wanted to know what I was laughing about. It is hilarious. It reminded me a great deal of the yarn socials we used to have when I still lived in Michigan. A group of vary different women came together to knit, learn from each other and share what was happening in their lives. And Roger did ask at one point WHY I had put wool in the freezer in the basement.
If you are a regular reader of the Yarn Harlot blog, then you may feel like you've read most of this book before. The essays aren't pulled directly from the blog, but they have the same well-worn jokes about obsessive knitters. They made me smile but I didn't laugh out loud.

For me personally, this book is similar to another book I read recently, Ex Libris. In reading both books, I felt like an outsider when I thought I was an insider. I consider myself a knitter, but after reading Pearl-McPhee's
At first I thought that for the reader to get the most out of this book, they should be a fanatic knitter. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they really only needed to be fanatic about SOMETHING, or know someone who sometimes carries their 'hobbies' a bit too far. (I hesitate to classify knitting as a hobby because the true knitters among us know that in no way is it a hobby, it's more of a life's calling.)

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book is a series of quirky, funny essays
I'm only a knitter, not a Knitter as the Yarn Harlot defines it, but still I found this pretty funny. Especially loved the essays on her stash. Someone lent this to me as inspiration since I was feeling stuck with my current project, to show that even experienced, expert knitters go through the same angst. It did help nudge me along and was an enjoyable read into the bargain.
Hilarious book for sure, though had I known it was a collection of some of her greatest hits on her blog, I would have read it there. I was glad some serious material was included. Laugh out loud funny in places, and I could relate in others. All in all, fun to read, though don't expect any insights into self or life from it... or even knitting.
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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (better known as the Yarn Harlot) is a prolific knitter, writer and blogger known for her humorous but always insightful anecdotes and stories about knitting triumphs and tragedies.
More about Stephanie Pearl-McPhee...
Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot Unravels the Mysteries of Swatcing, Stashing, Ribbing & Rolling to Free Your Inner Knitter At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again Things I Learned From Knitting (whether I wanted to or not) All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin

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“Even when it isn't going well, knitting can be deeply spiritual. Knitting sets goals that you can meet. Sometimes when I work on something complicated or difficult - ripping out my work and starting over, porong over tomes of knitting expertise, screeching "I don't get it!" white practically weeping with frusteation - my husband looks at me and says, "I don't know why you think you like knitting." I just stare at him. I don't like knitting. I LOVE knitting. I don't know what could have possible led him to think that I'm not enjoying myself. The cursing? The crying? The forteen sheets of shredded graph paper? Knittong is like a marriage (I tell him) and you don't just trash the whole thing because there are bad moments.” 5 likes
“Really, Joe? Really? You freaking think so?” 1 likes
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