Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot, is a pop star in the world of knitting. She is a knitting humorist who has written several books and writes a very popular blog. Huge numbers of people show up for her on book tour. I don’t think she has girls screaming as she arrives, trying to grab hold of her sweater, but I have a hard time picturing knitters doing that as a group for anybody.
S gave me Knitting Rules! 9781580178341 at a time when I really needed humor and an escape from work. I really enjoyed the book. It was a light, easy read. It was humorous and allowed me to escape into knitting even while reading. It also gave some theory on the structure of various items. At the time I read the book I had knit scarves and was working on the never ending edging of a baby blanket. Pearl-McPhee explained how a sock is constructed so that it wasn’t a scary mystery. I tried my first sock from her very loose instructions, but I do have to confess it was one of the many versions of the first sock that failed. The instructions would probably work now, but it something wasn’t working right and the sock had no relationship to my foot size. When M started to knit again last winter, at a time when she could use something to cheer her up, I passed the book along. It seems like a read and pass along to someone else kind of book, not a keep it and reread it or reference or inspiration book.
A couple months later, I’m not sure why, S gave me At knit’s end: meditations for women who knit too much 9781580175890. This is Pearl-McPhee’s first book and includes a lot of quotations and short (usually 1 page) pieces about knitting. It again was entertaining. Because of the way it was written in snippets, it was not as readable for long stretches, but it made a nice thing to insert between round of knitting or when I had a few minutes waiting for something at home. Also as the first book, I recognized many of the same ideas and themes that she had fleshed out more thoroughly in her third book. I later passed this book along to JQ.
I later checked out Yarn Harlot: the secret life of a knitter 9780740750373, her 2nd book. I enjoyed it, but having already read books one and three, I found many of the same things repeated. It did not have a lot of fresh material. Perhaps if this had been the first book I read, I would have really liked it, but I think it probably isn’t as good as the third book. Both are currently checked out from the library so I can’t review them and so this is all from memory.
I just finished her most recent book, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts off: the Yarn Harlot’s Guide to the Land of Knitting 9781580176583. This was definitely felt like a lot of the same material as the first few books, just repackaged in a different way. I didn’t feel like I got to really new thing until about page 140 (out of 218). I still enjoyed the book, but not nearly as much as the other books. Again, if this is the first book you read, I’m sure you’ll really like it. It may be as good as the third book, but personally I still like the way she explained the construction of a sock.
Pearl-McPhee also has a blog called Yarn Harlot. It is exceedingly popular. I occasionally read it, but every time I read it she seems to be on a book tour so she is mostly talking about her tour and all the nice people she met and the misadventures that befell her when travelling. It can be amusing, but a bit too much is, well, advertising her books. I guess it makes sense that her blog (which is free) is not the place she will put her most creative writing. Through her blog, she promotes Tricoteuses sans Frontières (Knitters without Borders) which gives money to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), so she is doing really worthwhile things as a pop star.
Addendum: In case I sound too down on the author, I want to make it clear that if Stepahnie Pearl-McPhee was speaking in town, I definitely would want to go and I am subscribed to her blog (I just don’t always read/skim it).
Rating: all the books probably get a 3, but some threes are more equal than others.