Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Speaking of Wool...

I'm loving my new addition to my knitting/spinning library: The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes. I definitely have a preference for natural fibers when I knit - and while I am partial to Merino, there are lots of other fiber sheep breeds out there. This fantastic book demystifies all things wooly - well, maybe not all, but it goes a long way into explaining the different things that make the various varieties of wool unique unto themselves.

If you're not a spinner, or are still learning, the book provides a brief look into how wool fresh off a sheep becomes yarn. My favorite chapter is the one about the various sheep breeds. Clara discusses the properties of 37 different breeds of sheep, providing information about fineness, staple length, crimp, luster and what uses the wool is good for. Each brief writeup is accompanied by an illustration of the sheep in question.

After the sheep discussion, Clara goes into another facet of yarn making: fiber blending - where she explains the benefits of blending wool with other fibers - and what this blending might contribute to your final project.

After you're well armed with all this newly acquired information, you can tackle the projects in the book - of which there are plenty (19) - there are hats (2), mitts (2), socks (3), sweaters (5), shawls and scarves (5), a bag (1) and a pillow (1). The patterns appear well written, and are accompanied by a large clear photo of the finished product (and often times smaller detail images as well). Where appropriate, there are charts and schematics. Skill level required range from beginner to experienced. The sweater patterns include patterns for children, men and women - with a wide range in size. (Largest chest size for men is 56" and for women, the largest bust size is 52")

If you're looking to learn more about wool, I highly recommend this book - I'm personally planning on working my way though the various wool varieties by way of spinning and knitting :)

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