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Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,137 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
. . . a sort of David Sedaris-like take on knitting-laugh-out-loud funny most of the time and poignantly reflective when it's not cracking you up." --Library Journal on Yarn Harlot

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee returns to pen another hilarious and poignant collection of essays surrounding her favorite topics: knitting, knitters, and what happens when you get those two things anywh
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by Andrews McMeel Publishing (first published September 1st 2008)
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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
11th out of 70 books — 80 voters
Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie StollerKnitting Without Tears by Elizabeth ZimmermannElizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth ZimmermannThe Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann BuddKnitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Must-have Knitting Books
46th out of 176 books — 158 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 22, 2012 SaraJane rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-read
Page 8 "It is my considered belief that the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble. Knitting probably prevents arson, prison, theft, and certainly mischief. I think knitters just can't watch TV without doing something else."

Page 22 "I
Aug 27, 2010 karenbee rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I give up. I dutifully read through page 150 of Free-Range Knitter and just did not want to pick it up again. It's an ARC so I felt I should slog through to the end but I can't make myself do it.

Pearl-McPhee's writing is fine -- words are put together nicely, and it's funny in spots, touching in others, but there's no SNAP, no connection; I am uninterested in this essay collection and reading it was like homework.

The essays with "surprise endings" are predictable, the description of knitting sty
Oct 21, 2015 MJ rated it it was amazing
I've read a few books--both fiction and nonfiction--on the topic of "sentimental knitting musings" and found that most of them didn't resonate with me at all. A lot of knitting memoirs are simply written by people I don't have a lot in common with, and it's hard to find common ground with various middle-aged white mothers who inherited knitting through some family legacy of grandmothers and whose yarn budgets and tastes differ vastly from my own.

But while Pearl-McPhee fits the exact description
May 16, 2011 Kaitlyn rated it liked it
Recommends it for: knitters
Shelves: knitting, 2011
Purchased because it was for sale for about $3 for Kindle the other day. Definitely worth the impulse buy. Cute, light, sweet, funny. Her books read much the same way as her 'blog and that's a good thing. I don't think that this was a strong as others of hers that I have read (perhaps just Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter) but I enjoyed particularly the story of her friend struggling with depression. (Or maybe "enjoyed" is not the word. I thought that and the story of her Aunt Helen wer ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Lynn rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
This is another of those 99-cent deals I got on a whim. I used to knit quite a bit, but then I started a business and every spare second of my life was pretty much wiped out entirely. (And the only reason I read books now is as an act of rebellion and escape, somehow I can feel more noble about reading and can launch a better defense about why I'm not working armed with a book, instead of a ball of sock yarn.)

I have sorta of known about this writer/knitter for awhile now. Her first book came out
Jan 11, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, 2008, done, arc, owned, knitting
"I received this as an Early Reviewers copy. Free-Range Knitter is a collection of essays, split into seven parts as if it were a knitting project: casting on, knitting two together, yarn overs, left-leaning decreases, making one, continuing to knit even, and casting off. Each part begins with an essay about how a friend or family member knits, which then leads to deeper insights. Pearl-McPhee's trademark knitting humour is evident throughout the book, and some of the essays will be familiar to ...more
Oct 16, 2008 Donna rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
If you've read any of Pearl-Mcphee's other books, this one is most similar to Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. That's still my favorite of her books.

Some of the chapters in Free-Range Knitter are full of her great blend of humor and insight. Sadly, it feels like she missed the mark in others, and there were a few that felt like pure filler.

I didn't really care for the chapters where she talked about her friends and their knitting, because they mostly seemed like personal stories and re
May 16, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
I loved this book. On the back there is a quote from the author that says:
This book is about the things we have in common, we knitters, no matter where we live, whom we love, or what we are knitting...This book, though it appears to be about knitting, is actually about knitters.

That pretty much describes the book, although I would add that the book is about mothers too, and mothers who do not knit will probably find something here that resonates. I laughed a lot, I cried a little bit, and was de
Julie Davis
Jan 28, 2010 Julie Davis rated it liked it
#1 - 2010.

Picked up in a last-minute splurge before beginning my 2010 resolution of not buying new books (aside from book club requirements) for a year. Which makes it all the sweeter ...

An assortment of alternately interesting, insightful essays with goofy ones. I wound being largely unamused by the pieces clearly intended to amuse such as letters to a sweater and I was generally uninterested in the pieces about McPhee's children which analyzed them as knitters and took that into musings on the
Jan 18, 2010 kingshearte rated it liked it
Some of the essays in this book were cute, but many of them just started to feel repetetive. Yes, you are obsessed with knitting. Yes, you have a massively huge stash. And yes, you are completely weak and powerless when it comes to buying yarn. So the ones dealing with those topics bored me.

Some of them really were nice, though. The tributes to various knitting friends/relatives were really sweet, and I quite enjoyed the one about the fascinating and beautiful dance one's fingers do when knittin
Apr 20, 2016 Siobhan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lifestyle, knitting
The second book by this author I have read within a week. I giggled while reading this one too and I was thoughtful and reflective about my own life while reading it. The end of the book made me cry a little.

Besides her style of writing which is personal, reflective, and humorous I also love the cute cartoon character on the front of a sheep knitting from it's own wool!

I'm not experienced with knitting much at all but could relate to the comical frustration when "things don't go right"! I also
Feb 27, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I let this book sit on my shelf for two or three years before I cycled back into a knitting phase. I go through periods where I don't knit for years, in between periods of knitting obsessively. But since knitting has been consuming my mind lately, I thought, "What if there was a book I could read about knitting that was neither a book of patterns, nor a lame chick lit knitting fiction?" And this book came to the rescue.
So, the first half of this book, I was thinking, okay, this is entertaining,
May 19, 2010 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor, othermedia, 2010
As funny and enjoyable as her first, but with fewer digs at crocheters this time around. And while most of the book is humorous (and sarcastic and in-jokey), she managed to get me to tear up with the very last section ("Helen"), which really wasn't fair.

Much like her other books, a great read for the knitters out there, and likely completely incomprehensible for the non-knitters.
Jul 30, 2011 Sharen rated it it was ok
This one didn't impress me as much as her first book had. I found myself reading just to get through it, hoping that I'd get a laugh or feel something from this book. There were one or two amusing stories, a couple of touching ones, but the majority of them just did not resonate with me.
Jun 06, 2010 Bonnie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Not something you read all at once. This is a series of short entertaining essays, so it was hard to get into the book as a whole; however, it is redeemed by the majority of the essays (only a few seemed like filler). I'll certainly be passing this on to a knitting friend!
Mar 02, 2015 Atlantis rated it liked it
This was more about the relationships with family and friends the author has developed through her love of knitting than about knitting itself so it was way more personal. That does not mean this book lacked witty moments:

The "Ten Knitting Tragedies....Moths. We can pretend all we like, but the odds are exceptionally good that moths are like knitter's herpes."

On being nervous in a yarn store: " Once I know I'm being weird and jumpy, I try not to be worried about that, and by then I'm so nervous
Dec 24, 2015 Becca rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Somehow this just wasn't as good as her previous book of essays. I thought the stories were interesting, but they weren't as personal and touching. Maybe it was just my mood and the intense jet lag.
Jan 23, 2009 Beverly rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This is more substantive than her previous books. She focuses on people more than on the craft of knitting. She is a humorous writer, but her style wears on you after a while.
Feb 28, 2016 Blue added it
I'm not rating this book because it wouldn't be fair. I should never have read this book, but my husband gave it to me for Christmas because I knit. But I'm not a 'knitter'... I don't self define as one, don't have many friends who knit, and as it turns out, have no interest in reading about how people knit.

I thought I just didn't like the writing, but ever so often the author snuck in some non-knitting stuff, and then I was amused.

So don't read this book if you don't self identify as a knitter
Jun 06, 2012 Kerry rated it it was amazing
Free Range Knitter is yet another great collection of essays about life, love and knitting by Stephanie Pearl McPhee (a.k.a. The Yarn Halot). By now, it should go without saying that Stephanie’s writing is witty and funny and thoroughly enjoyable and this book is no exception.

I was fascinated by a running series of essays that reflected on the way several people in Stephanie’s life knit, their motions and the way they approached it, and how it reflected something about their lives or personalit
Jan 19, 2010 Betsie rated it it was amazing
I do so love The Yarn Harlot. She is witty and clever and funny and I so enjoy the self-deprecation. This is the fourth book by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that I have read and I am clamoring for another. I love how much she loves yarn and knitting. I love how she messes things up and picks up her needles to begin again. You have no idea how exciting it is that she also does not swatch. I really respect her as a knitter and even though this is a book of essays and not an instructional manual, I learn ...more
Jul 31, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it!

Random thoughts:
* Are there really people who walk and knit? If so, my weirdness with knitting has not quite hit that point (yet).
* I didn't know there were special bags for carrying around your yarn so it doesn't roll around on the bus. I promptly went out and bought this: Sock Knitting Project Bag Hexipuff Small Crochet Wip Bag - Crazy Calaveras so that I can carry around my socks in progress (SiP?).
* The story of the ball of the yarn in the elevator seriously cracked me up.
* T
Free-range knitter contains a collection of personal essays and humorous bits pertaining to her life-long obsession with knitting. Being one of her later works, this book contains a lot of essays about the latter stages of parental life--once most of her kids have reached their teenage years.

This is the second book I've read by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and I actually found this one a bit disappointing. I particularly found most of the essays about parenting and watching other people knit rather d
May 11, 2015 Regan rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It is apparently true that all knitters, even new ones like me who haven't spent much time in the company of other knitters, share certain...uh...quirks.

Pearl-McPhee's writing style is highly accessable and funny although she is also quite skilled at making you see the touching side of her stories. On the cover she's compared to David Sedaris - I wouldn't go THAT far but she's definitely a really enjoyable essayist and someone I would seek out to read again.
Apr 15, 2014 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I've read the Yarn Harlot blog for a couple of years now, but this is the first of her books that I've read. I really enjoyed it! Some stories were more interesting than others, and I don't always agree with her views. But it was funny and I love reading about knitting...not technical stuff, but how people knit and why. I also appreciate that she explains different types of knitters. I'm not a particularly fast or efficient knitter, but she makes me feel like that's okay. As long as I'm knitting ...more
Jul 17, 2009 Anita rated it it was amazing
I just finished Free Range Knitter by Stephanie Pearl McPhee. aka The Yarn Harlot. Awesome!! I'll reread again, just for her wit, humor, pearls of wisdom and outlook on day to day life--let alone her comments on knitting. I just love the letters she sends the designers.

here's one pearl of wisdom I liked: except for good deals and good luck, you get what you pay for, and quality follows cash.

or, on kids: as she was cleaning the refrigerator, she realized that maybe, in some sort of primal challen
Dec 18, 2011 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, funny, kindle
This fine book is about knitting, yes, but really not so much about knitting as about what happens when knitting is part of life. The stories and essays glide and ripple and twist, carrying the reader pellmell into intimate contact with men, women, children, animals, ideas, and humor - and always the light of knitting is leaking through, shining its innocence, tough love, and grace onto stumbling humanity.

Stephanie is a master at fostering reflection through story-telling. The first story, about
Jan 07, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: other knitters, essayists
Recommended to Sarah by: the author herself (via her blog)
This is a book of essays about knitters and knitting, not a pattern book. I read the author's blog, and I enjoy her sense of humor and practicality. I especially liked the essay "All Things Being Equal". In it she discusses how people give her weird looks when she talks about going on knitting retreats, but those same people think nothing of it when a group of guys go off fishing. Also, there are more knitters in the US and Canada than golfers, and we spend way more money on our hobby than they ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Emily rated it it was ok
I actually forgot I read this in passing several months ago. For some odd reason, I didn't enjoy it very much. I wanted to like it, I wanted to LOVE it and be inspired to knit myself a body suit but alas, I just could not relate to one Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I picked up several books from my knitting group up in Boston, I was so discouraged by this one I hadn't gotten around to any of the others.
Jane Lebak
Mar 03, 2015 Jane Lebak rated it really liked it
Enjoyable book, but not a surprise because I already know I love Stephanie Pearl McPhee from her blog. The book is composed of vignettes about knitters and the mindset of knitting, some misadventures and some thought-provoking analyses of the people she's known and loved. Recommended mostly to people who are crafty but also to others who just like to read about life in general.
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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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