Review of the Yarn Harlot's new book to follow shortly! ***NOW UPDATED*** see below!
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Title: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
# of Pages: 224
Publisher: Storey Books
Book Source: Amazon.com via my family
Price: Gift - but check out the prices on the amazon link above
Skill level/Audience: Beginners to Master Knitters
The self-proclaimed Yarn Harlot's latest offering reads as a Lonely Planet Guide to the land of knitting. Following the format of such guides, the chapters have titled 'Population', 'History', 'Politics', 'Religion' and'Social Customs' and provide a witty interpretation of how knitting can conform to such topics.
Similar to Pearl-McPhee's earlier books, it contains a few of the colourful anecdotes that made Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter such a great read, great one-liners reminiscent of At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much and some of the great "reason-to-or-not-to" lists from Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks - without a doubt you are reading a Yarn Harlot book.
S.P-McP Casts Off is a book full of light entertainment. The sense of humour is cute, and will appeal to 'muggles' who have learnt to live with knitters, the illustrations are cartoon-like and suit the text, and I found the content very easy to follow - although sometimes I thought that perhaps the Harlots was preaching to the choir. This is, perhaps, a book that would suit someone just beginning their fibre-craft obsession, rather than those beyond help - however, I think those beyond help (like myself) would devour the book with a knowing little smile as they turn the pages.
The book is very conversational, and has none of the technical content of Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks, but isn't quite as engaging as Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. My favourite parts of the book are the letters at the end of each chapter which chronicles fictional character Alice's fall down the rabbit-hole into the land of knitting. As Alice continues her downward spiral towards cashmere, stash and gauge one cannot help thinking that the author is including tidbits from her own autobiography in these segments (c'mon Steph, tell us how many times you have been held up by customs for import duty!)
I tend to do most of my reading at night, tucked up in my bed - and found this was the perfect type of book to snuggle under the doona (duvet) with. The book is quite lengthy, and it took me three or four nights to get from cover to cover. As I tend to read until the early hours of the morning, a person with normal sleeping patterns may find this entertaining for a week or more.
Basically, the Harlot ends this 'travel guide' with concept that one does not visit, but rather takes up residency in the land of knitting. And because of this - I know that every resident of this land that loves the Yarn Harlot will enjoy getting their mitts on this book, and as soon as possible.
I haven't seen this in any Australian bookstores yet, so I doubt you would find it in a library - I would suggest you buy yourself a copy, enjoy it and pop it on a shelf for a little while. If you happen to teach someone to knit, or find a friend new to the hobby - gift the book to them. Pearl-McPhee doesn't say this outright in the text, but we all know that the land of knitting is a lot like the Hotel California - you can checkout whenever you like, but you can never leave. A newby knitter may like to know a little more about the place, once the have entered the hell of struggling with dropped stitches and problem yarn-overs. Who knows - it may even help to keep them sane (or a least as sane as the rest of us are!)