The book is small (about 6.3 inches by 4.2 inches) and fits in a purse for quick moments of reading just about anywhere you're stuck waiting. There's an introduction and 45 things learned with a few lists interspersed. So, it's a perfect book for short breaks as most of the `things' are on average about three pages. It took me a while to read because I chose to read it in short spurts reading 1 or 2 or 3 things at a time.
If you've read the Yarn Harlot's blog you have a good idea of her writing style. It's simple and down to earth, witty, humorous, and often slyly thought provoking. I say slyly thought provoking because she often says she writes knitting humor and she does. But, what she doesn't stress is that her writing is humorous because it based in the knitting culture and in society in general. The introduction talks about attention and filter theories in science (neuro) and psychology and how they apply to knitters. Often knitters take a lot of flack for knitting items that could be purchased cheaper elsewhere or for wasting time (usually said by someone just sitting and doing nothing). Stephanie Pearl-McPhee uses science and common sense to refute some of those charges and to prove to knitters that not only are they taking part in an activity that brings them joy but that also keeps their brains active and engaged, produces usable products (mittens, sweaters, socks, scarfs, and so on), and teaches them new things about life and the world everyday.
She has short essays on lesson learned such as: "Patience is a Virtue". Knitters, she writes, aren't knitters because they are patient but patient because they knit. Basically, on observation, she believes that if you took a knitters knitting away when they are in a situation that requires patience, such as waiting in a doctor's office, the knitter would shortly be climbing the walls. I can certainly agree with this lesson since I find knitting is superior to picking lint out of the air, pacing, or "gasp" staring at the walls wondering if I could climb one.
Another lesson is Practice Makes Perfect. Knitting is an activity that is done over and over again. It's basically of two stitches -- knit and purl -- and with these two stitches you can make socks, sweaters, mittens, and so on. The more you knit the better at it you get. It's a simple concept, but with knitting it is easily seen by an individual. Of course, the book explains this lesson in a much more humorous and illustrative manner. A knitter who wouldn't dream of do-overs for many of life's mistakes will with no prompting unravel and reknit something over and over again until they get it right. This `practice' can transfer and allow knitters to keep trying when things get difficult because with knitting eventually you'll succeed. In life that doesn't always happen but some people never learn to try, try again -- they give up. Knitters persevere.
If you are a knitter, you'll enjoy the book for those flashes of recognition of your own behavior or the behavior of other knitters that you know. You'll also find that after the laughter, when you remember and think about all the lessons learned, that this is not just knitting humor, this is a litany of what knitters know and what they should recognize about themselves and their craft. They are persistent, meditative, creative, good at math, thoughtful, generous, and caring. If you're not a knitter, but know some or hope to be one someday, reading this book to give you an idea of the sorts of things that are involved in knitting. It's not just a craft but as with any art -- a way of life that can profoundly effect how you look at the world.