The Time I Met the Yarn Harlot

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, is in the middle of a book tour for her, I think, 497th book, The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes.

She came to Texas one time, in October of 2011, to promote her 349th book, All Wound Up. I was there. See? In the first crowd picture. In the center, wearing black boots.


(c)BookPeople – Contemplating the heat.

Even though she was tired from traveling and overheated from spending time in the cruel Texas humidity in October, she acted as if this were her first stop on the tour. She started by telling us that she walked to the bookstore from the Driskill Hotel because someone at the front desk said it was walking distance. (It’s not.) Then she said how proud her mum would be that she accessorized her outfit with a necklace. (Now, this is not funny in and of itself, but if you read her blog and you know her history of boring outfits and you know how her mother is always trying to get her to liven up her wardrobe, then you would laugh.)

Then she read two essays from her book, which she said was a new feature of her book tour. Usually she just talks. The first was “Knit Junkie,” about a time she went to dinner without her knitting, then “Personal Filters,” about how she wants to answer dumb knitting questions vs. how she actually answers them.

Well, she didn’t read the essays, she performed them, using proper pauses and inflections and body language and yes, sarcasm.

I’m sure that all of us would have stayed there for hours listening to her read and answer questions and give advice, but the bookstore had a schedule to keep.

The Harlot and I have a previous connection in that we are in the same book together—Knit Lit the Third: We Spin More Yarns. At the time that book came out, I didn’t know anything about her or her enthusiasm for knitting, but I loved her story (“Airport”) of enduring the torture of a) having her knitting needles disallowed at the discretion of airport security, and b) a delayed flight. I remember wanting to read more essays by this funny writer who spoke to the heart of a knitting obsession.

The first line of my essay is mentioned in this Booklist review of KnitLit the Third.

The first line of my essay is mentioned in this Booklist review of KnitLit the Third.

When it came time to meet her and have my book signed, I mentioned our literary cohabitation. She nodded, probably thinking, “Yeah, well you’re holding an entire book of essays written by me.” I told her I had written “Cast Off,” about how I never finish anything I start. She smiled and said, “Oh, I love that essay.”

Now, I don’t know if she was just being Canadian (i.e., polite), or if she really recalled my essay out of the dozens that were in that book. And could she distinguish that book from the other two KnitLits (one and too) in which she also had essays? I’m going say yes, she distinguished and she recalled, and I’ll take the compliment.


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