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Review: Yarn Whisperer

First, the facts:

Title: The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting

Author: Clara Parkes

Published by: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2013

Pages: 160

Type: Memoir

The In-Depth Look:

My only excuse for not reviewing this book earlier was that, since I bought it for my Kindle and promptly devoured it, I didn’t have a physical book sitting in front of me to remind me to TELL you about it.

Because, yes, when I heard Clara Parkes was coming out with a new book–a memoir, no less–naturally I pre-ordered a copy and tried to wait as patiently as I could until it appeared on my Kindle. And then I read the whole thing, heaved a satisfied sigh as I figuratively closed the cover and well, completely forgot to review it. Totally my fault.

Not surprisingly, this book is charming. I’ve enjoyed Clara’s writing style and wit for years. (I think I discovered her Knitters Review site back around 2004, and have been happily reading just about everything I could ever since.) I’ve found her yarn reviews to be vigorous and helpful, her books about yarn, wool, and socks are wonderful, but this book is different. This is about Clara. She talks about her experiences as a student in France, her first job, how she stumbled into knitting in the first place … it’s very definitely a memoir.

Now, the thing about memoirs is that, by definition, they’re written by the person living the life described. Which means they can have great depth and meaning and be incredibly satisfying, or they can be shallow and self-centered and really badly written. (There are, of course, other possible combinations.) I always approach anything resembling an autobiography with trepidation because I’ve been burned too many times by books that looked so promising and then ended up so bad that nothing could counteract the bad writing and self-satisfied smugness that oozed from every page.

But, this was Clara Parkes and she hadn’t let me down yet, so I figured it was worth a risk.

Did it pay off?

Does it help to say that I think I used the Highlighter function on my Kindle more for this book than almost any I’ve read? That I kept finding pithy and wise statements that I wanted to be able to find again? That it made me happy to know that Clara loves fountain pens, too?

Yes, I enjoyed this book. Yes, Clara is always a delight to spend time with–my only regret is that, except for a quick handshake kind of meeting at the last few Rhinebecks, I’ve always been restricted to knowing her through her words. I’m quite sure she’s just as much fun after three hours or three weeks as she is after three minutes, but ultimately, I have to go by what she’s giving me–her words. Words of encouragement. Words of wisdom. Words that share her life and her personality and (apparent) conviction that knitting and wool are important. (Because, they are, right?)

All in all, I loved the book. Go check it out for yourself, and tell your bookseller that it’s my fault you’re so late to the party. You can also find your copy at Amazon.com.

My Gush: Thoughtful and heartwarming.

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