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Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I’ve had this book for about a month now, and am only just reviewing it now because I’ve been savoring it. This was one book I didn’t want to rush through. Which, really, should come as a huge shock. I’m better known for devouring new books as quickly as possible, not for making them last. (I read the 7th Harry Potter book in seven hours flat … and that WAS me trying to make it last as long as possible.) So, for me to WANT to make a book last? It’s got to be something special.

If you read Stephanie’s blog (that’s the Yarn Harlot, if you didn’t know), you should be able to picture exactly what’s in this book. It’s like a collection of her very best blog posts–the funniest ones, the most touching ones. If you don’t read Stephanie’s blog? This is a fantastic introduction to her unique way of viewing the world.

There are posts that touch on motherhood–both the frustrations of having three children running around, as well as the rewards of seeing them grow that make the craziness worth while. There are vignettes about the way different people knit, and what it means to them. The social aspects of knitting with like-minded people.

Funny posts–like the Furnace Wars. Or that time a skein of yarn dropped outside of an elevator as its doors closed. Let’s not forget the letters. Touching epistles to sweaters that have minds of their own, or designers who might not have been as … thorough … as they could have been when writing their patterns.

All in all, this book reads like a Best Of collection, and Stephanie’s best is very, very good. She’s such a good writer with a fresh way of looking at familiar things–like the way she watches you wrap your yarn for a Knit stitch and sees it as a metaphor for your entire personality. (Who knew?) Her writing is never boring, never stale, and this particular book shows her at her best.

This isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed her more recent books that were more about the physical aspects of knitting, mind you, but this book calls to mind all the reasons I love reading her blog–they show Stephanie. She may be spending most of the book pointing out interesting, quirky, and downright funny things about knitters and knitting, but it just highlights her own fresh take on the world. She can be hilarious and deeply touching from one essay to the next, and it all reflects her multi-faceted personality.

Obviously, I liked this book a lot. It’s a good book to curl up with, with a cup of tea nearby, and maybe your dog on your lap. Or–even better–to have someone read TO you while you sit with your knitting. Because this is the kind of book that you should spend time with. It’s not about rushing through to see how a story ends, or about flipping through to see what patterns you might want to knit. This book feels like spending a long afternoon with Stephanie, just listening to her telling stories, and cracking jokes. Really, an ideal way to spend some time, don’t you think?

Reviewed by Deb Boyken

Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website, Knitting Scholar, can be found at
http://knittingscholar.com .

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