Author and avid knitter Clara Parkes, currently traveling the country to promote her newest publication, "The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting," made her stop in Chicago last evening to share her personal stories in addition to reading from her new book. The Sulzer Regional Library in Lincoln Square acted as host, along with sponsorship and support from independent bookstore The Book Cellar.
Already a success both in print (her other publications include "The Knitter's Book of Yarn," "The Knitter's Book of Wool," and "The Knitter's Book of Socks") and in electronic media (she is the founder and creative machine behind Knitter's Review), Parkes walked to the podium and captivated her audience from her first words, using her own swirl of wit and eloquence to describe her purpose.
"My first question is 'What is the yarn?' before 'What is the pattern?'. Yarn fascinates me." This sentiment is apparent when listening to Parkes read from her publication, a collection of 22 essays using yarn and knitting as her spot-on metaphor to tell her own life story as her example. Her oral excerpt, from the essay "The Choreography of Stitches," brought the listener back to his or her own childhood, relating to curiosity and wonder as if the events were fondly just happening yesterday.
Interspersed with her passion for literally feeling life as it happens, with fiber as not only her constant vessel but also her lifeline, her humor jolted the group into fits of outright laughter. "I tell every group this fact...every foot, on an average day, releases eight ounces of moisture. You're welcome." Parkes shared this tidbit while discussing the knitting of socks.
Parkes ended her presentation with a question-and-answer session, and a giveaway of "Claramels," homemade caramels which Parkes says she makes when she takes a break from working at her kitchen table, despite building an elaborate knit-and-writing friendly studio in a different part of her house. Designer and author Franklin Habit acted as her candy runner to the prize winners and participants, with the last two "Claramels" saved for the employees of the Book Cellar, who help keep bookstores a thriving entity.
Click on the link to Clara Parkes' website to view the future dates of Parkes' book tour, which will take her both to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York and her home base in Portland, Maine among other cities. For enthusiasts unable to meet her at a book signing, Blue Hill Books in Maine will take a customer's order with Parkes signing copies upon request. Here in Chicago, The Book Cellar will continue to have copies of "The Yarn Whisperer" on hand for purchase.
Clara Parkes believes that if a knitter lays out his or her projects in order, the knitter's life story can be told. Thanks to her book tour and newest publication, readers can gain that same insight of the life story of Clara Parkes.
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