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The Yarn Whisperer [Kindle Edition]

Clara Parkes
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Stockinette, ribbing, cables, even the humble yarn over can instantly evoke places, times, people, conversations, all those poignant moments that we've tucked away in our memory banks. Over time, those stitches form a map of our lives. From the preface In The Yarn Whisperer: Reflections on a Life in Knitting, renowned knitter and author Clara Parkes ponders the roles knitting plays in her life via 22 captivating, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny essays. Recounting tales of childhood and adulthood, family, friends, adventure, privacy, disappointment, love, and celebration, she hits upon the universal truths that drive knitters to create and explores the ways in which knitting can be looked at as a metaphor for so many other things. Put simply, No matter how perfect any one sweater may be, it's only human to crave another. And another, and another.

Editorial Reviews


"...Clara Parkes has taken the common threads that join all knitters, and she's made them into a glorious patchwork blanket of a book. It's warm, it's beautiful, and there's love in every bit of it." - Mary Mooney, The Oregonian

"Clara Parkes is the MFK Fisher of knitting: unflinching, all-seeing, mysterious--and also kind. In this collection of beautifully wrought essays, Clara explores the territory where knitting overlaps with a life well lived." - Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner, Mason-Dixon Knitting

"I was utterly captivated by the book." -

"In this charming series of linked essays, Parkes metaphorically puts the fast whorl on her wheel and spins something entirely new, showing that she's not just a good writer but a great one. Funny, sweet, and trenchant and offered in twenty-two digestible bits, this book is not only the quintessential sampler afghan of knit lit, it is also the 'It' gift of the season. Buy a stack to stuff inside the handmade stockings of your knitting-circle friends."   -Vogue Knitting

About the Author

Clara Parkes, a celebrated raconteur, is the bestselling author of The Knitter's Book of Yarn, The Knitter's Book of Wool, and The Knitter's Book of Socks. She is also the founder and publisher of, a biweekly e-newsletter that explores the pleasures and subtleties of yarn. She lives in Maine.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2002 KB
  • Print Length: 170 pages
  • Publisher: STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (September 3, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,752 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Clara Parkes' Knitters Review forever and have loved her other three books. This one is no exception. It is written with the yarn lover and knitter in mind. The book contains no patterns, but rather is a collection of reminiscences or essays by Ms. Parkes. She talks about her life as it relates to knitting and yarn. "This book is a collection of my own musings on stitches - why we work them, what they do to fabric, and how they have contributed to the fabric of my own life. For life really is a stitch. It has a beginning, a midpoint, and an end. It serves a purpose, and if we're lucky, it creates something beautiful and enduring."

There is one essay that relates to steeks - sometimes we have to make a cut in something in order to give it a chance to become whole. In the chapter about the choreography of stitches she discusses her move to Tucson and the discovery of the rodeo. She also learns square dancing. She looks at myriad stitches and designers and compares them to different types of choreography. For instance, Kaffe Fassett is a modern choreographer and other designers are more traditional. There is a poignant essay about her parents' divorce and her trip cross-country. The essay on stashes really spoke to me. I have so much yarn that I could open my own yarn shop. Ms. Parkes discusses the need to cull stashes and compares them to gardens. "As hard as it is to say, I should point out that a healthy stash requires frequent and prudent weeding. It can easily get overrun before we notice what's happening". In her essay called Stitch Traffic she gives very sound advice, that "putting blind faith in anything is rarely a good idea, whether it's a GPS or a knitting pattern.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but cut the metaphor September 11, 2013
By kgohl
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is indeed a beautifully written book with yarn as its metaphor (as stated by a previous reviewer). But after about the third chapter I began to hope that the author would let go of the metaphor. By the sixth chapter, no matter how the author spun it, I found the metaphor was becoming a cliche and I was having trouble reading more than a chapter or two at one sitting. The chapters with "less" metaphor, and often fewer life lessons, seem to work better. The chapter about the Kitchener stitch and its origin, for example, comes to mind, with its historical information. Come on Clara--more stories about yourself, about yarn and knitting, or about anything, really, but lay off the metaphor. Still, knitters will want to read this book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Nearly Almost a Good Book! January 15, 2014
By IngridH
I'm giving a very reluctant three stars. I would have given it two stars, but the subject matter alone made it worthy of an extra star. I'm glad I bought the book because I want more essays about knitting and yarn and fiber to be written and published.

But... but...

I LOVE Clara Parkes. If I ran into her at Maryland Sheep and Wool, I'd silently freak out, channel my inner Canadian YarnHarlot style and play it seriously cool (because who the heck would I be to her?), and then freak out about it for the whole next year, much as I did when I was looking at the sheep photographs at the same time as Deborah Robson -- who wrote The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, which is one of my very favorite books ever -- at the 2013 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

That said, going back to The Yarn Whisperer... yikes. The essays are short and the metaphors are big, obvious, clunky, and shoved down the readers' throats in the least elegant manner possible. I have a very difficult time with any author using "we" to try to strike notes of (usually false) profundity. It's equally difficult to take here. Every time a writer tells me "we" do something, I want to shout back, "No, *we* don't!" speaking, of course, as myself. Writers have no business speaking in sweeping generalizations about people. Stick to specifics. Leave it to the reader to see herself in what is portrayed.

The book could have been awesome if she'd made the memoir more cohesive and detailed while weaving (no pun intended) the yarn side of her life into the story naturally. I think she should step way back to allow her readers to see connections and links for themselves.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed really October 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Clara Parks is a good essayist, but I hoped and expected more from this book. No knitting substance--only humorous generalization.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feels like my new favorite sweater September 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of those books that made me feel terribly sad when I reached the last page, because I enjoyed reading it so much. The book is full of lovely insights into both yarn and the lives of those who love it. I can see myself going back to it again and again, when I feel the need to bundle up in the literary equivalent of my favorite comfy sweater.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Anecdotes and More! January 17, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have all of Clara Parkes' books, but I wasn't sure about this one. I usually only buy knitting-related books if they're reference or pattern books, and a memoir or collection of stories didn't seem like it would be very 'useful' to my collection. However, I got a Kindle for Christmas this year and decided to purchase the e-copy. It was a fun read and there were many times I caught myself laughing out loud -- but the true test of this book came when I was waiting on my boyfriend at the airport. There's a whole chapter dedicated to kitchnering, and I just happened to be at the toes of some socks when I was stranded at the airport with nothing else to do. I had no idea how to kitchner without directions, so I looked up Clara's anecdote in the book about the time she finally 'understood' how kitchnering works. It was just what I needed to finish the toe on my sock!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good read by Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes is a very enjoyable writer. She reveals a lot about her personal life and some lovely vignettes about her family in this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Claudia Segal
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by ERIKA H.
4.0 out of 5 stars Knitting as life
Some of the similes seemed a stretch. I did like the humor. The book seemed written in an old-fashioned style, so I was glad it was fairly short
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing.
Lovely, whimsical wisdom. Beautiful writing.
Published 5 months ago by Corglet
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Memoir
I found The Yarn Whisperer sitting on the shelf right next to Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. After taking a brief glance through the book, I decided to take it home, too. Read more
Published 5 months ago by lunarchi
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally Enjoyable
I heard about this book on "Knitting Daily"' downloaded and read it in one evening.
I'll have to look for more of Clara's writing and share this book with my knitting buddies... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Wendy Hahn
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting and bad*ss all at once
Like a good wool yarn perfectly suited to the pattern, Parkes pairs life, love and her keen wit into chapters that keep you coming back. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Heather Connolly
3.0 out of 5 stars I like the idea of comparing life to yarn
This book took me a long time to read. The language was a little too much for a fast read. I like the idea of comparing life to yarn, but it worked better for me in small doses. Read more
Published 8 months ago by L. Hontz
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
This is a wonderful book about life! Clara Parkes has outdone herself. She told the story of her life through yarn.
Published 9 months ago by Joanne Garcia
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite book
I was a little disappointed in this book, I'm sure some knitters will love it, but I wasn't that crazy about it. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Angela Mcclelland
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More About the Author

"Quite possibly the only writer you will ever read who can make a discussion of micron counts absolutely riveting." - Mary Mooney, The Oregonian

Over a decade ago, Clara Parkes abandoned San Francisco's high-tech hubbub to build a quieter creative life on the coast of Maine. Since then, she has become a trusted voice in the knitting community. "Clara Parkes is the MFK Fisher of knitting: unflinching, all-seeing, mysterious--and also kind," writes Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Named by Vogue Knitting as one of knitting's "New Wave" along with Debbie Stoller and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Parkes is also the publisher of, has appeared regularly on the PBS Television series "Knitting Daily TV," and is a frequent contributor to Twist Collective.

In her spare time, Clara loves to putter in the kitchen and is a huge fan of butter.

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Topic From this Discussion
is this book wrapped in real yarn?
No, I don't believe it is. It is just the way the cover looks.
Dec 1, 2013 by KellyLC |  See all 2 posts
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