Read Harder: Vol. 8

Jessica Staff Image

Another entry in my continuing adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge

In an interesting turn of events, all three (yes, three) books that I’m picking my way through right now qualify for the same challenge category: Read a Collection of Essays. This was completely unintentional, but you can’t beat the satisfaction in finishing an essay or two over lunch or before bed.

book cover for Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World

If you’re a knitter, you know Clara Parkes. She is a go-to source for all things yarn — her website Knitter’s Review can tell you how just about any brand of yarn will knit up and handle being worn. In Knitlandia, Clara takes us along on her road trips around the world in search of yarn.

While in Taos, New Mexico, Clara is schooled in making naturally dyed fiber from a legend who once yelled at Julia Roberts for following too close at a grocery store (supposedly Julia just wanted to introduce herself as a fan).

In Iceland, Clara, along with a group of knitters on a retreat she is leading, experiences a fiber mill that she claims “is to yarn what Willy Wonka’s factory is to chocolate.” It’s the largest mill in the country and produces almost every skein of Icelandic yarn. After all, 50% of the mill is owned by the Icelandic Sheep Farmers Association, which happens to represent nearly all of the sheep farmers in Iceland.

And in Columbus, Ohio, Clara dives head first into the National NeedleArts Association bi-annual trade show. This is the place “where trends are launched, competitors are eyed and closely held secrets are revealed.” But just as important, she gets to visit the fine people at Jeni’s Ice Cream at North Market, a place where vendors and shop owners can meet on neutral territory.

One of the best things about this book, aside from the short length of each essay, is Clara’s writing style. It feels as if you’re sitting across the table from her at Jeni’s and she’s regaling you with a story about that one time she went to Scotland and got lost in a sea of cashmere yarn.

What else am I reading? Neil Gaiman’s View from the Cheap Seatsa collection of essays, speeches and even book introductions, and Jes Baker’s body-positive book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook of Unapologetic Living. 

Take a knitting road trip

Check out Knitlandia by Clara Parkes

Jess is the Clerical Specialist at the Woods Run branch on the North Side. She’s your girl for YA lit, romance novels and knitting.