Weekend Review: Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl McPhee

Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter
I'm not sure Steve knew quite how to process this book when he saw it sitting on the coffee table. "So, it's stories about knitting?" Well, yes, but not just knitting. In Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter (2005) Stephanie Pearl McPhee writes beautifully, poignantly, and hilariously about slipping stitches, but she also uses knitting as a point of entry to explore many facets of life. There are essays about things that only a fellow knitter will "get," such as a geologic description of her stash and the worth of the fourth double pointed needle. There are laugh-out-loud tales, such as her battle with a neighborhood squirrel who keeps stealing her wool and there are really touching stories about her experience as a mother, a wife, and a doula. This book is a peek into her life and its daily challenges and celebrations all stitched together with wool and two needles. For her, knitting is an expression of love and she tries to do it as often as possible and with an incredible amount of fervor and dedication. Appropriate to where I am in my life, my favorite story uses knitting (and the three blankets that she knit for her three daughters) as a metaphor for motherhood and how it changes with time and experience.

This is really one of my first forays into reading "knit lit," so I don't have too much with which to compare this book, but it was a joy to read. Pearl McPhee strikes you as someone you know who's a little eccentric maybe, but in a way that makes you love her all the more. Her writing flows like a good conversation and she left me wanting to read all of her books (there are seven) and visit her blog to see what else she has to say. I don't think I've ever had a singularity of passion that Pearl McPhee has for knitting, but reading her musings on it makes me wish that I did.


  1. Good review. I haven't wandered into knit lit, but may have to dip my foot in. I laughed when I saw your husband's reaction!:)

  2. my husband has been completely baffled by the knit lit i've been bringing home lately. oh well, hasn't stopped me yet. i'd like to read this one by pearl mcphee. i recently read "at knit's end" and just thought it was ok. a little repetitive and short on any really umph. it was a collection of very brief anecdotes, so maybe i was expecting too much. stories, though, i can get behind stories.