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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting

Автором Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting

Автором Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

4/5 (41 оценки)
273 pages
2 hours
Apr 14, 2007


Cast off with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee on the ultimate journey through the knitter’s world. Pack your crafting bag, chart a course to the nearest yarn shop, and pick your traveling companion by looking for the telltale needle holes in her purse. With wry humor and a contagiously obsessive love for everything knitted, Pearl-McPhee takes you on a hilarious tour of the Land of Knitting and introduces you to the wacky, wonderful people that choose to inhabit it. 
Apr 14, 2007

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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot, entertains knitters with her unique humor via her popular blog (www.yarnharlot.com) and her best-selling books, Knitting Rules!, At Knit's End, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off.

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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee



Wherever You Go, There You Are

EVEN IF YOU don’t care to travel, if you’re a knitter, you’re on a journey to an amazing land. You packed your bags for this trip the first time you picked up needles and yarn, the first time someone showed you the knit stitch, or the first time you cracked open a knitting instruction book or surfed a knitting Web page.

For some people, the journey to this land is a spiritual one. These are the knitters who find serenity and relaxation in knitting (those who say knitting is the new yoga). For some, it is a journey of self-challenge. Those who view it this way seem to devour knitting, learning the way to cables and lace and grafting so quickly that you can scarcely stand to watch them without feeling inadequate. Some are drawn into knitting by the people they meet along the side of the road, and they are often changed, frequently inspired, and occasionally healed because of these encounters. (These are the most perplexing knitters for common humans to understand, and non-knitters try to avoid them at cocktail parties. You can guess how I know that.) Whatever the reason for embarking, however the journey can be characterized, or whatever you find when you get to the destination, the point is that knitting takes you on a journey — becoming a knitter is a process, and knitting itself is far, far more than a hobby. It’s a destination, a location, a new land.

The land of Knitting is a remarkable place. Its borders are far-reaching, extending through almost every country in the world. (Admittedly, countries where it’s about 100 degrees for much of the year have fewer Knitting ports of call, but surely you can understand how there might be just a smidge less incentive for warm knitting wear to develop in Zimbabwe than, say, Russia.) The land of Knitting has citizens residing all over the globe (and maybe on other planets too…nobody has ruled that out yet) and Knitting’s denizens transcend borders, language, race, age, gender, fashion sense, and, to be entirely frank, occasionally intelligence.

Immigrants to the land of Knitting arrive by book, by video, with a mentor, in groups, alone…and sometimes lonely. They come in various states of confusion, trying to grapple with things that even we longtime residents still haven’t entirely grasped. The currency (how much yarn is too much yarn?), the language (cast off or bind off?), the politics, the sports, the local customs: Citizens of the land of Knitting must navigate all of this bewilderment, usually while contending with those in the rest of the world, most of whom don’t even believe in Knitting…at least, not as a destination.

Knitters have their own rules, their own society, and their own limits. How else can you explain millions and millions of people who understand that it’s reasonable to buy an outrageous amount of yarn when you hear it’s been discontinued, but that it’s completely unreasonable to think you’re going to finish knitting all of it before you die? How else do we all — millions of us, in every corner of the globe — know the password: Just one more row?

For a place where knitters spend so much time, we know very little about this remarkable land and its culture, and it’s time we changed this. Welcome, then, to the first travel guide to the land of Knitting. We know you’ll like it here, no matter who you are.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

— Martin Buber


THE LAND OF KNITTING is populated largely by people who didn’t know they were coming here to live full time. They thought they were merely going to be tourists. They were just going to learn to knit or were just going to knit one or two things. They would pop in and out, vacation here, maybe contemplate a time-share condo…All knitters begin their journey through Knitting truly believing they’re going to adopt knitting as a hobby or a skill, not a lifestyle.

In every Knitting immigrant’s life there is a moment — different for each person — that sparked her interest in knitting and set her on this path. Maybe she saw a friend knitting or maybe she had a sudden remembrance of a relative who was a knitter. In those who are susceptible, simple exposure to wool products can trigger the knitting reflex. Perhaps a Knitting tourist begins by making only one baby blanket for an expected child or maybe just one fuzzy scarf to go with a favorite blue coat. Then, after finishing one scarf, she thinks that maybe some other people would like scarves too, and she makes more — and these people really like them. They think the knitter is very clever and the scarves are fun…and the knitter is still having tons of fun making them, so she knits even more scarves and everyone gets a scarf for Christmas (even that guy down the street whose name she doesn’t know).

But then, one stunning day, the Knitting tourist thinks, I have to stop knitting scarves. This is out of control. This can’t go on. This much scarf knitting is not normal. Even the family dog has three scarves. I’m going to stop this madness right now. And she puts down the scarf yarn and walks away.

Then she takes a deep breath, and she looks around at the shape of her life and thinks about what it will be like now that she doesn’t knit all the time. She tries to watch TV, but her hands feel itchy, and she tries simply to sit, but something is missing. She reminds herself that the scarves were madness, that the whole scarf-knitting episode was way gone to Crazyville — but then it suddenly comes to her in a flash of inspiration: She casts on for a hat…Whether she knows it or not, this innocent lady has just bought a nice little town house in the land of Knitting and has moved right in.

Caution: The One-Way Streeter

There exists in the land of Knitting a type of knitter who should be approached with caution: the One-Way Streeter. In the wild, the One-Way Streeter can be heard using words such as always, never, and the very intimidating at no time. This species is usually very good at knitting, with advanced skills…and one right answer. One-Way Streeters believe in one right way to do things — their way — and they can be very limiting when encountered by a brand-new resident. As teachers, they can be wonderful (if somewhat inflexible) guides to the things they know best. As mentors, their advice occasionally needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

If I say Any way you want to turn the heel is fine — honestly, in knitting do whatever works for you and you experience flushing, nausea, or anger, then you may be a One-Way Streeter. Try to loosen up a little.

Knitting Personality Types

The citizens of Knitting can be divided into many subcultures, but all of them fall into one of two broad categories: Process Knitters and Product Knitters. A Process Knitter knits for the sheer enjoyment of the activity, while a Product Knitter knits for the joy of the knitted stuff. The following quiz may help you identify both types in the wild and will help to clarify what type you are.

Note: Within the population, there are subgroups who blur the lines: Product Knitters who aren’t willing to do some processes or Process Knitters who care about the products a great deal. Generally speaking, though, most knitters fit more into one category or the other.

Identifying Types of Knitters

The responses to the following situations will help clarify what type of knitter you are or what type you’re dealing with.

It has become clear during the last several hours of knitting a project that you are not achieving gauge. In fact, this project has never heard of correct gauge and laughs with wild abandon in the face of gauge. Once you absorb that the project is very, very big/small/oddly shaped and you work your way through some language unbecoming a knitter, other knitters within earshot are most likely to hear you

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  • (3/5)
    Let me start by what this book is not. It is not an instructional knitting book. It was not meant to be, and if that is what you are looking for, this is not the book for you.This book is a "travel" guide to the world of knitting. It is humor interspersed with some facts about knitting organizations and history. It is definitely an explanation of a passion for knitting. Some of the material is the same as in her other books. But it still makes for fun reading.
  • (4/5)
    Great book! I really did enjoy it. Despite the humor I thought there was a lot of truth in that book ;-)I definitely need to read some more of her other books ...
  • (3/5)
    Fun! Perhaps not particularly informative except in a "You too? At least I'm normal" kind of way.
  • (5/5)
    Part of what I loved about this one was I got the audio book, and listened to the author read her own work. That was a rare treat, and I really liked hearing where she had intended to place the emphasis. Plus, her humor is always amusing to a fellow knitter.
  • (5/5)
    Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is the Jon Stewart of the knitting world. She skewers us with our own needles, unravels our obsession for the uninitiated and helps us learn to laugh at ourselves. Her fresh, tongue-in-cheek observations about the crazy world of knitting have become wildly popular on her blog, her speaking tours (accompanied by her trademark socks-in-progress) and in her three previous books.In her newest book Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: the Yarn Harlot’s Guide to the Land of Knitting, Pearl-McPhee looks at knitting as a journey and sets off on a whirlwind tour of the land of knitting. Whether a newly arrived visitor, a long-time resident or a tourist seeking understanding of a loved one; Casts Off is an essential guide to the people, customs, tourist attractions and common ailments of this fascinating land.Divided into the areas of reference commonly expected in a travel guide, Pearl-McPhee investigates packing tips (just how much yarn does one need to take on a trip), consulates & embassies (local yarn stores), politics (the great “acrylic versus natural fibers” debate) and common ailments (the dreaded “Yarnesia” or the debilitating Viral Second Sock Syndrome), treatment and prognosis.Knitters who have caught the “Harlot” bug will find themselves laughing uncontrollably through Casts Off and most will remain convinced that Pearl-McPhee knows them better than their closest friend. Whether she is commenting on the “four ways knitting is like playing the violin” (both are worked from a chart) or how to cope when bad knits happen to good knitters, knitters respond to Pearl-McPhee because she understands us. She knows our foibles because she shares them and like all good enablers, she helps us explain ourselves the skeptics around us. After all, as Pearl-McPhee reminds us, “We know it looks like yarn, but it’s love…and for this it’s worth giving up all your closet space.”This knitter recommends regular doses of the Harlot, along with infusions of social knitting and stash diving, to ensure a pleasant and healthy stay in the land of knitting.
  • (5/5)
    Great book! I love her blog and have read a number of her books I just have a few to read still and am looking forward to reading all of them. They are all so hilarious I just can't stop laughing as I read them.
  • (3/5)
    This book is suppose to be a funny look at how knitters arrive at the land of knitting. There a few cute parts, lots of repetition (how many gauge stories does a book need?) but no actual knitting advice or help. I also found that the new knitter in this book to be a bit overkill. I especially didn't like the story at the end, where a mother was concerned about her daughter going back to a more traditional role. I found it to be too over the top, especially as far as I can tell, the new knitter didn't work. I think this book was suppose to a companion book to "Knitting Rules" (which is a fine book, and covers much of the same topics, but with helpful hints and such). As such, I found that the author was failing on topics. It might have worked if it was one of those small gift books, but as a full sized paperback, there was not enough information to justify it.
  • (5/5)
    A wonderful excursion to a knitting land of enchantment with a language all its own. The Yarn Harlot is the perfect tour guide into this land and all its nuances. I found it perfectly entertaining.
  • (5/5)
    Fun and breezy. Easy and delightful read. If you knit, you will find yourself in this book.