In this lively, funny memoir, Peggy Orenstein sets out to make a sweater from scratch—shearing, spinning, dyeing wool—and in the process discovers how we find our deepest selves through craft. Orenstein spins a yarn that will appeal to everyone.
The COVID pandemic propelled many people to change their lives in ways large and small. Some adopted puppies. Others stress-baked. Peggy Orenstein, a lifelong knitter, went just a little further. To keep herself engaged and cope with a series of seismic shifts in family life, she set out to make a garment from the ground up: learning to shear sheep, spin and dye yarn, then knitting herself a sweater.
Orenstein hoped the project would help her process not just wool but her grief over the recent death of her mother and the decline of her dad, the impending departure of her college-bound daughter, and other thorny issues of aging as a woman in a culture that by turns ignores and disdains them. What she didn’t expect was a journey into some of the major issues of our time: climate anxiety, racial justice, women’s rights, the impact of technology, sustainability, and, ultimately, the meaning of home.
With her wry voice, sharp intelligence, and exuberant honesty, Orenstein shares her year-long journey as daughter, wife, mother, writer, and maker—and teaches us all something about creativity and connection.
Peggy Orenstein is also the author of the New York Times best-sellers Boys & Sex, Girls & Sex, Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Waiting for Daisy as well as Don’t Call Me Princess, Flux, and the classic SchoolGirls.
A frequent contributor to The New York Times and a contributing writer for AFAR, Peggy has also written for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, New York, The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and has contributed commentaries to NPR’s All Things Considered and The PBS News Hour. She has been featured on, among other programs, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Today Show, Morning Joe, and NPR’s Fresh Air. Her TED Talk, “What Young Women Believe About Their Own Sexual Pleasure,” has been viewed over six million times.
The Columbia Journalism Review named Peggy one of its “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40 years.” She has been recognized for her “Outstanding Coverage of Family Diversity,” by the Council on Contemporary Families and received Books For A Better Life Awards for Girls & Sex and Waiting for Daisy. Her work has also been honored by the Commonwealth Club of California, the National Women’s Political Caucus of California and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has been awarded fellowships by the U.S.-Japan Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council and residencies by Mesa Refuge and the UCross Foundation.
Peggy will be joined in conversation by Rebecca Kneale Gould, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and co-chair of the Philosophy, Religion and Environment Focus at Middlebury College, author of At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America, member of the Thoreau Society’s board of directors, and proud a shepherd with a small flock of rescue sheep.
Praise for Unraveling:
“While Orenstein’s garment is the work of an amateur, this book is anything but.”—The Washington Post
“This witty, irreverent memoir is…an absolute delight to read.” —Minneapolis StarTribune
“By book’s end, the reader is ready to identify deep, intrinsic beauty in anything that is difficult to create.”
—San Francisco Chronicle