A fast-paced account of the year Clara Parkes spent transforming a 676-pound bale of fleece into saleable yarn, and the people and vanishing industry she discovered along the way.
“While I laughed and loved Clara’s prose, I was left with so much more. It’s actually a lovely and melancholy look at an American industry that’s quickly changing, and a beautiful story of the people who are sacrificing to maintain it.”
—Judy Greer, actor, director, and author of I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star
“Given my hatred of puns, I absolutely do not want to say Clara Parkes spins an incredible yarn, but how else to describe this incredible book? Parkes is the Mark Kurlansky of wool!”
—John Hodgman, actor, humorist, and author of Vacationland
Join Clara Parkes on a cross-country adventure and meet a cast of characters that includes the shepherds, dyers, and countless workers without whom our knitting needles would be empty, our mills idle, and our feet woefully cold. Travel the country with her as she meets a flock of Saxon Merino sheep in upstate New York, tours a scouring plant in Texas, visits a steamy Maine dyehouse, helps sort freshly shorn wool on a working farm, and learns how wool fleece is measured, baled, shipped, and turned into skeins.
In pursuit of the perfect yarn, Parkes describes a brush with the dangers of opening a bale (they can explode), and her adventures from Maine to Wisconsin (“the most knitterly state”) and back again; along the way, she presents a behind-the-scenes look at the spinners, scourers, genius inventors, and crazy-complex mill machines that populate the yarn-making industry. By the end of the book, you’ll be ready to set aside the backyard chickens and add a flock of sheep instead. Simply put, no other book exists that explores American culture through the lens of wool.
Named one of the top 10 lifestyle books for fall 2017 by Publisher’s Weekly
Anyone with a passion has a stash, whether it is a collection of books or enough yarn to exceed several life expectancies. With her trademark wry, witty approach, Parkes brings together fascinating stories from all facets of stash-keeping and knitting life–from KonMari minimalist to joyous collector, designer to dyer, spinner to social worker, scholar to sheep farmer. Whether the yarn stash is muse, memento, creative companion, career guide, or lifeline in tough times, these deeply engaging stories take a surprising and fascinating look at why we collect, what we cherish, and how we let go.
Featuring stories by (in order of appearance) Meg Swansen, Lela Nargi, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Amy Herzog, Ann Shayne, Gudrun Johnston, Kay Gardiner, Rachel Atkinson, Franklin Habit, Anna Maltz, Sue Shankle, Amy Christoffers, Clara Parkes, Jillian Moreno, Susan B. Anderson, Lilith Green, Rachael Herron, Kristine Vejar, Eugene Wyatt, Aimée Osbourn-Gille, Kim McBrien Evans, Adrienne Martini, and Debbie Stoller.
Named one of the 50 best summer reads of all time by Reader’s Digest
“A life entwined in yarn might mystify those who don’t knit, but anyone versed in the language of skeins and cables will sigh with envy over Clara Parkes’s new memoir.”
— Kathy Blumenstock, The Washington Post.