Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Fun

Two of my favourite summer pastimes are knitting and reading; in front of the fire on rainy days and out in my gazebo when it is warm. On trips to the cottage, I give more thought to books and knitting projects than I do wardrobe. It should not be surprising that some of my favourite "reads", in fact books which I have read several times, are all the Yarn Harlot books by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee .

Stephanie is funny. Her books are about knitting, knitters and just about anything "knitterly", but I am sure they would be funny even to someone who has never picked up a pair of knitting needles. I think Stephanie could write about road signs and make it funny. She shares stories about her knitting adventures and mishaps, her family and friends. I enjoy things which make me laugh. Laughter is good for the soul; lowers your blood pressure, reduces stress. Laughing is just so much more fun than being worried or sad. My introduction to Stephanie was several Christmases ago when a friend gave me a gift of "At Knit's End". I read it and was hooked.

I was delighted to find out this very funny knitter also had a blog. Every day, after I check my e-mails, I check to see what the Yarn Harlot has to say. You can find her blog at

Stephanie has written several books which have all become best sellers. I have enjoyed each of them. My favourite is Knitting Rules. It is a wealth of information about knitting techniques, yarn and knitting tools. One thing I like are the basic patterns found in this book for hats, socks, scarves, shawls and sweaters. Her "SOCK RECIPE:A GOOD, PLAIN SOCK" from Knitting Rules is the second most popular sock on Ravelry with over 7000 posted projects.

Some of her stories are priceless; the loss of her favourite DPN while on a road trip with her family in a rented van. I won't ruin the punchline by telling you the story.

As teachers we often quote her to illustrate a point. It can sometimes be a struggle to convince even experienced knitters that correct yarn weights, the appropriate needles and a proper gauge swatch are essential to producing a garment that fits. This is not an exact quote as I am working from memory (which is not always good at the best of times). In one of her books Stephanie says of swatching and gauge;"You find a pattern you really like, but can't find the yarn it calls for, so you substitute something that sort of looks like it, you didn't have 4.5 mm needles it recommends, so you used your 5mm, you were in a hurry so didn't want to waste time with a swatch. You will be one lucky knitter if the sweater actually fits, it is more likely it won't and you can't blame the pattern!!"

In the "Yarn Harlot", there is an hilarious chapter named simply " IT". Let me quote part of the opening paragraph:

"Once again, it's Christmastime. How can I be completely blindsided by a holiday that happens on the same day each year is absolutely beyond me. You'd swear they only announce the date for Christmas in November and I have maybe three weeks to cope with the news. Once again I am nowhere near ready......"

This chapter has been my inspiration to start my Christmas knitting in July. Last year it worked out pretty good for the first time. The only unfinished gifts were some hats for my very young nephews who were probably happier with the toys anyway.

All of Stephanie's books are reasonably priced paper backs, usually available at Chapters. Treat yourself to one or two or all of them. If like me you read them several times, you will get more than your monies worth out of them.

Her next book, "All Wound Up" is due out in the fall of 2011.

One final note, in addition to being a wife, mother, author, blogger and self-admitted addicted knitter, Stephanie is Canadian. I enjoy when her blog or books reference downtown Toronto and I recognize the area she is talking about. She is also a bit of a local celeb, throwing out the first pitch at last years Stitch N Pitch.

No word if she is up again this year but Stitch N Pitch is set to go for July 20th.

Stitch N Pitch 2011
Toronto Blue Jays vs the Seattle Mariners

WHEN: Wednesday, July 20th , 7 pm

WHERE: Rogers Centre (or as lots of us remember it ... the Sky Dome)

WHO: You, your family and your friends (non-knitters welcome)

HOW MUCH: $20 at your local yarn shop

Serenity Knits will be selling tickets for pick up at the store, up to July 13th. Tickets may be purchased for pickup at the stadium after the 13th.

For more details on Stitch N Pitch 2011 (including goody bags and door prizes), visit the Stitch N Pitch Blog

The Streetknit Project ( will be at the game collecting hand-made outerwear (hats, mitts, socks, scarves, even sweaters) to be given to the homeless.


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