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Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,516 Ratings  ·  399 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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The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate JacobsThe Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie MacomberA Good Yarn by Debbie MacomberThe Knitting Circle by Ann HoodKnit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
Good Yarns: Knitting Fiction
14th out of 149 books — 231 voters
Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth ZimmermannStitch 'n Bitch by Debbie StollerKnitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPheeKnitting Without Tears by Elizabeth ZimmermannYarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Knitting Nonfiction
5th out of 71 books — 81 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 24, 2008 Dawn rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 31, 2010 JoAnna Spring rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 09, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it
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
Dec 09, 2014 Jane Stewart rated it liked it
2 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 c
Apr 17, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 08, 2007 leighcia rated it it was ok
Shelves: knitting
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
Dec 05, 2008 Patricia rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 13, 2015 Malissa rated it it was amazing
Really fun read! Totally justified my yarn hoarding stashing habits. I don't even usually enjoy nonfiction and flew through this laughing out loud along the way. Maybe someday I'll be a capital k Knitter too! ;)
Reading Faerie
Cute and funny. This book taught me a lot about superwash yarn, the trials of big, green afghans, the dedication of becoming a Knitter instead of a knitter, and the limited color pallets of men of Newfoundland.
I laughed out loud many times, and identified in several places. I think that anyone who knits or crochets will probably see themselves at least once in this book.
However I don’t know any members of TAKE, but that may be because my mother crochets, as does my grandmother, and my cousin kn
Alesha Hubbell
Jun 22, 2012 Alesha Hubbell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting
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.
Sep 13, 2012 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 17, 2015 Jamie rated it did not like it
I had to stop reading this book after the chapter in which she describes trying to convince her wool-allergic friend that her allergy is all in her head by knitting several items for her out of various types of wool. I'm sure there are some creative liberties taken for the sake of humor with this story as well as most of the other stories in this book, but I really didn't find it funny. I think that a story about tricking your wool-allergic friend into trying out wool socks you knitted for them ...more
Jennifer Johnson
May 25, 2009 Jennifer Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 08, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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
Jul 12, 2016 Pam rated it it was amazing
Regrettably, even though I tried to read really really really slow I just finished the Yarn Harlot. I laughed hard at Stephanie and at myself. Now the dilemma... Do I horde the book along with my yarn or pass it along to another Knitter?
Thanks Ketti for the fun read. It was a great birthday gift.
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
Jul 23, 2009 Bridget rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-reads
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
Feb 19, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing
Hello. My name is Kim. I am addicted to knitting. Seriously, I am. I had my husband wait to go out, just so I could finish reading. And I finished chuckling. The way this book ends is the way I want to leave this world. I love the down to earth stories about living the life of a knitter. I can identify.
May 28, 2014 Nell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: domestic-arts
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.
Jamie Dacyczyn
Jun 07, 2016 Jamie Dacyczyn rated it really liked it
2016 Reading Challenge: A book about one of your hobbies.

Well, I'll be darned....who would have guessed that an entire book JUST about the knitting life could be so entertaining?

I'm not a truly dedicated knitter like the author (yet), but I still identified with quite a lot of the anecdotes. From taking great measures to hide the true extent of your stash from your spouse, to making one tiny mistake and realizing later that the sweater sleeve you were working on is now twice as large as it shoul
May 23, 2007 Grumpy72 rated it really liked it
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!
Colleen Lahey
Mar 04, 2016 Colleen Lahey rated it it was amazing
If you are a knitter, then this book is for you. I could so relate to what Stephanie writes about. Yes I do look at the backs of every piece of knitting I encounter and yes I do have a stash larger than I'll ever knit. Stephanie is a hoot. Although I don't agree with her method of letting little knitting errors fly by, she makes knitting sound fun and cool. There are a few poignant chapters in the book that will bring you to tears demonstrating that this woman can write. After reading this book, ...more
May 13, 2013 Tammie rated it really liked it
I love these books! The author is so funny and she makes me feel like a competent knitter.
Oct 14, 2015 Myridian rated it liked it
Pearl-McPhee is clearly and intelligent and amusing woman who is an amazing knitter. She is also heralded as someone who speaks for a generation of knitters. My problem was really that she just doesn't speak for me. I am not a super stasher. I can count on one hand the number of deserted projects I have (2). And I can easily jettison knitting in favor of one of my couple dozen other hobbies. All this leads me to the conclusion that I am not a Knitter. Pearl-McPhee's target audience is K Knitters ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Kassie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting-books
I laughed the whole way through this relatable knitting tale.
Intentional Jen
Feb 19, 2014 Intentional Jen rated it liked it
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
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a knitting fanatic and yarn enthusiast who writes hilarious real-life stories and other non-fiction works about knitting. Being a knitting enthusiast myself, I find her writing very enjoyable and inspiring, and her knitting misadventures make me feel quite a lot better about being a knitting nerd myself. Plus, it's always nice to have a benchmark to point to and say, "At least I'm not that crazy!" (Stephanie, I <3 you!)

About this collection of stories in particular..
Jun 06, 2012 Kerry rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 18, 2010 Leah rated it liked it
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
Aug 04, 2011 Aimee Keithan rated it it was amazing
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
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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...

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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.” 8 likes
“Really, Joe? Really? You freaking think so?” 1 likes
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