All through elementary school, handicraft classes were the bane of my existence. Even with the best of intentions my needlework, knitting and crocheting always turned out a big mess. Edges were never straight, stitches dropped inexplicably, and I had a death grip on my knitting needles so the yarn refused to budge. The weekends when our teacher wanted us to wrap up a project at home were the worst. This invariably ended in tears. I would struggle for hours with the same few rows, ripping out the work over and over again. Sighing dramatically, emanating a whiff of despair until my sweet Mama took pity on me and finished my assignment for me. I’m sure the entire family heaved a sigh of relief when in ninth grade handicrafts were no longer on the school curriculum. 

And yet, all this has never stopped me from enjoying books like Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. Perhaps I should call it reading for an imaginary lifestyle. It’s completely harmless and awfully good fun really. Daydreaming about a parallel universe in which I’m an accomplished seamstress making all my own clothes, a world where I happily knit away the hours just to relax. But there’s more to it than that. Above all, I find the personal stories behind any passion paired with vignettes of daily life tremendously fascinating.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is the Yarn Harlot. The author was bitten by the knitting bug thirty years ago and has been a tiny bit obsessed with needles and yarn ever since. Her self-deprecating short stories recount many adventures and misadventures in knitting – recognizable to anyone whose hobby is also their passion. From the insanity of finishing hand knit gifts hours before Christmas, souvenir stashes, running out of discontinued yarn with only half a sweater sleeve to go and conquering challenging patterns, to precious craft moments with friends and the joy of creating something with your own hands.

If you are an avid knitter, do you enjoy reading stories about your hobby? Perhaps you have a few misadventures of your own to share? If not, would you pick up a book about a certain craft or passion anyway, to get a glimpse of another world?

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