I so much enjoyed Clara Parkes’ Knitlandia that I bought her most recent book of essays, The Yarn Whisperer. It was not what I expected, which is both good and bad. Let me explain…
Clara Parkes has been a knitting advocate and teacher for years. She appeared on Knitting Daily TV, which was produced by Interweave, and she has written 7 books about our favorite hobby. In 2000, she created the Knitter’s Review website, which reviewed products knitters use, as well as yarn.
Parkes has led a life filled with knitting – and we’re lucky that she’s such a talented writer so that she can share her experiences with us.
The Yarn Whisperer is a selection of essays about Parkes’ life and the role that knitting has played and woven throughout it. These stories recount a cross-country move when Clara was very young, meeting friends who liked to knit in college, and working in a department store right out of college. I particularly liked the story of how Clara and her partner renovated an old barn in Maine to make it a beloved, cherished home.
While knitting isn’t always center stage throughout this book, Clara often comes back to stitches and fibers to tie up all the loose ends.
I’ve never been very fond of essay collections. They are difficult for me to read as they so often seem disjointed. Parkes’ Knitlandia was different as every chapter recounted a fiber festival or event so you expected the change. The Yarn Whisperer was less cohesive as it was about Parkes’ personal life experiences. That being said, I found all the essays to be interesting and endearing – and very relatable.
When Parkes recounted being nervous about her knitting in college, unsure of whether her friends would judge her unkindly for her hobby, I thought of the times I’ve been reluctant to admit to being a knitter, for fear of being given an undesirable label. When Parkes talked of her cross-country move, I remembered all of the times I moved when I was young; I went to five different elementary schools!
Many of these essays are relatable for us and will make us remember things in our past fondly – or not so fondly. They will make you laugh and cringe.
If anything, I wish there was more knitting in this book. The world can never have enough knitting for me, it seems! But I’m so glad Clara Parkes continues to write for us – and I hope she never stops being our voice and advocate!