The Knitter’s Book of Wool
The whole chapter today is on breeds of sheep broken down into five categories.
Meet the Breeds
By the time I got from page 38 to page 78, I was introduced to more breeds of sheep than I ever imagined existed. Clara has broken them down from the finest fleece to the most course.
The chart on page 40 gives a good overview of all the breeds covered in the following pages. There are 37 types of sheep. Many were breed from combos of other sheep to refine the best qualities of the bred sheep. Lots of history throughout these pages.
Sweet Fern Mitts
When I first started writing this blog several years ago, I thought I would make a project from each book I covered. Silly me! That lasted for one book – The Book of Yarn. When I saw these mitts – I said – why not? I’ll post a pic of my work-in-progress soon.
This is an example of a spread from the finewools section. Each breed is discussed, a chart covers the facts and the chart is followed by a lock of fleece and finished skein of the yarn. This reference section makes it worth keeping the book on my bookshelf!
The final page of Chapter 3 features a list by month of various fiber festivals around the United States. There you will see many different sheep breeds.
Fleece Friendly Fiber Festivals
The Knitter’s Book of Wool
Today I’m going to cover Chapter 2 and tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned.
Turning Wool into Yarn
The chapter begins with getting wool fleece off the back of the sheep and I found out that there are many steps in the journey. Big ah-ha moment – using a skilled shearer makes all the difference. They need to get the whole fleece off at one swoop to avoid getting “twice-cut” fibers that are shorter than the first cut fibers. A real no-no. Who knew how much was involved?
Scouring and Lanolin
Before the fleece can be processed it goes through a washing process called scouring. Depending on the processing some or all of the lanolin is removed. Sometimes less processed yarns from smaller mills leave some of the lanolin in the fleece.
Worsted and Woolen spinning
Clara gives a good explanation of the difference between the woolen (oldest and easiest way to make yarn) and worsted (produces smoother, stronger yarn).
She then goes into the various ways that yarns are dyed – as fleece, as fibers, as skeins.
Spoiler alert – Chapter 3 covers breeds and their differences. It’s 40 pages long so it will take me a while to read.
Meanwhile, I’m off to Vogue Knitting this weekend. Maybe I’ll even get to rub shoulders with Clara Parkes or at least say hi to her! Lots of knitting and yarn – yes, yes, yes!
The Knitter’s Book of Wool
The Knitter’s Book of Wool
A new year and a new long book! One of the first books I reviewed when I started my blog was Clara Parkes’ Book of Yarn. I read and reviewed it over a number of blog posts as it was full of information and text. It was a perfect book to cover for my “away from home in Florida” time of year. So here we go with Chapter 1 of The Knitter’s Book of Wool.
The Knitter’s Book of Wool – back cover
Book of Wool – Preface
What better way to begin a book about wool than with a photo of a flock of sheep!
Chapter 1 – What is Wool?
The first chapter begins with the fibers and their make-up. Did you know that wool is a resilient fiber than can be stretched to 30 percent of it’s length and return to it’s original size? I sure didn’t.
Book of Wool – sidebar boxes
This book (besides being full of insightful info) has wonderful called-out sidebars with extra tidbits.
Chapter 1 – Scales and Felt
As you can see by this spread, there is lots of text to read. This will be a slow blogging book for me!
What did I learn from Chapter 1? Wool from different animals is wildly different and result in very different types of the end product – yarn.
More to come…
Inside this book I found an email that I had written in 2009 about the book with the sub-title “Seriously Cute Crochet”. In the email (written when I worked for Red Heart), I suggested doing a feature in our newsletter on the book. I said that it was full of “so-cute” projects. Now 6 years later, I’m less inspired by the book. It is still “cute”, but would I make any projects – doubtful.
Simply because I’m not going to use the book, I’m giving it a Thumbs-down.
Amigurumi World – Back Cover
The projects are really well-thought out and designed, but I wondered about the $18.95 cover price. You can now get it on Amazon in a Kindle version or a used copy for far less.
The General Guidelines in this compact book are seriously clear and well-done and would be perfect even for a novice crocheter.
Abbreviation and Glossary
The nice page of abbreviations features a project that I thought to be the “cutest” in the book – Eggzactly!
Just one of the projects with easy-to-see photos. When necessary the author has also included back views, especially where animals have tails not obvious in front views.
Learn to Knit by Penny Hill
So you might ask – what the H – – – are you doing with a “learn to knit” book? Yes, dear reader, I asked myself the same question. This UK book published in 2003 somehow landed on my book shelf – magically I’m sure!
Learn to Knit – back cover
Since it won’t be staying on my shelf much longer and is most likely destined as a library donation, I will at least give it a review here. It’s an OK learn to knit book for a novice and covers quite an array of material to be sure. The simple projects shown on the back cover go from easiest to easy with some clarification along the way. It’s actually a good book for more experienced knitters, if one might be looking to knit simple projects.
I’m not usually a fan of photo “how-to’s”, but these are fairly clear. Usually drawn illustrations are easier to follow.
How to create stitch patterns
These are clear photos of simple stitches, but the UK version of stocking stitch vs. the US stockinette might be confusing to a beginner.
photo of sweater pieces
This was a clever way to show what the finished sweater garter stitch pieces will look like and more or less how they will be stitched together.
Here’s the finished sweater nicely styled. The book uses no live models which probably keeps the book from looking dated.
How to make a set-in pocket
Towards the end of the book, this technique plus several others such as buttonholes makes the book more valuable in the long run.
Family Circle Easy Sweaters – 50 knit and crochet projects
Another easy week for me. This book is a pattern only book and not one filled with text and technique. With 50 knit and crochet projects, this book is a good value. It’s just not a book that needs to be on my shelf.
On a positive note, I’ve sold 19 books on Amazon so not only are some of my removed books off the shelf, they are gone, gone, gone!
Family Circle Easy Sweaters – back cover
This Sixth and Spring 2001 book is nicely photographed and has really clear, easy-to-understand patterns with good schematic drawings and charts.
Pattern with schematics and charts
Here are a few of the nicer patterns. Most sweaters are for intermediate knitters and crocheters, with a few easy designs.
Double Cross Cabled Pullover
Pattern Play Duo
Stitch Mix Guys Pullovers
There are sweaters for kids, mainly as duos with Mom or Dad and none for babies. Some of the yarns are discontinued, but should be easily substitutes.
Bye-bye Family Circle. This getting easier after almost 2 years of blogging!
Two Stick and a String by Kerry Ferguson
In my quest to remove books from my shelves, I’ve decided to look at a few quick reads (aka mostly or all patterns). This one is the first of that group. Kerry Ferguson, who I knew as the person at the head of Creative Yarns International and importer of New Zealand yarns, is the author of this book published in 1999.
Two Sticks and a String – back cover
With 15 simple and nicely done designs, the book has clear photos, schematic drawings and charts. The sub-title is: Knitting Designs Inspired by Nature. That’s a bit of a stretch, but makes a nice theme. Quite a few of the projects feature color work techniques so this is not a book designed for the novice knitter.
Kerry’s clear drawings make a nice introduction to each design and actually look very much like the actual sweater on the facing page.
If I were to make one project from this book, the Aran Pullover would be high on my list. Unfortunately, it’s probably not in my future.
The Mohair Pullover is the easiest project in the book and would make a great “first sweater”.
I have to give this a Thumbs Down for me. It’s not a bad book, but not one I need or can use.
Knitting in No Time by Melody Griffiths
A quick read and discard for today. This is one of those books that made me say – “what was I thinking when I bought this one”. It’s more of my dislike of a book of patterns rather than a book of substance.
This UK book was published in 2006 and I did like that it’s broken down into clear chapters with projects such as accessories, wraps, jackets and bags. It makes it easy to find something you might want to make.
Knitting in No Time – Back Cover
A definite – Thumbs down on this book.
Pull-On Hat and Hand Warmers
I thought that the hat and hand warmers is an easy good looking project. Each project has a tip box which is especially good for beginning knitters.
Another nice project and good use of a variegated yarn. It’s made in a Noro yarn that’s readily available throughout the US.
I must be on a Noro yarn fan jag! The above sweater is knit from the top down and pretty easy to make in stockinette stitch. A good “bang for the buck” where the yarn does the work.
The book ends with about a dozen pages of techniques. These are well-done and especially good for new knitters.
Summer Lacy Shawl
This is my favorite project in the book. I saw it as more of a throw when shown photographed over a chair on the intro spread. I was surprised when I found that the actual project is called a “Summer Shawl”. At 24 1/2″ wide and 45″ long, it could easily be made a little wider and used as a throw. It’s made in a DK weight (lighter than worsted weight).
The book could have used a few home decor items or those for baby/kids, but I’m sure that the editors plan for this volume was to stitch with women’s fashions.
Canada Knits by Shirley A. Scott
Today I’m happy to report that I finally finished Canada Knits. Never thought I’d finish this one! I love reading it. This book was packed with info about the evolvement of knitting in Canada, but the heavy text slowed me down. As I remember, I ended Part 1 with Canadian Yarns.
Do I want to keep it? I enjoyed the reading and loved all the interesting photos – some black/white a two color sections. That said, it’s not a book that I really want to keep on my “forever” shelf. Sorry “Shirl the Purl”!
Here’s a photo of the Amos Little mill (that evolved into Briggs & Little). Small mills such as this one were often the advent of today’s larger yarn companies.
Amos Little Mill
The Lux Knitting Book published in 1939 is part of the wartime Canadian effort.
Lux Knitting Book – 1939
Sporting life in Canada influenced knitting. Curling, imported from Scotland in colonial times, created a need for fine-gauge sweaters and hats.
Canadian Curling Team
Missionary work in Eastern Canada added to the number of knitters. Young girls were taught at an early age.
Knitting girls in Labrador
Canada Knits by Shirley A. Scott
Reading this lovely book has slowed me down. Lots of text and an incredible historical story have made this a book to savor. I plan to read it all no matter how long it takes!
On a positive note, I’ve sold about 9 or 10 books. Off the shelves and out of the house. I some how feel a bit lighter. Onward! It’s given me new inspiration and hope that eventually my library will be a manageable and I’ll know where to find every book I own!
Why do I even own a book of the history of Canadian knitting? Is it my Canadian roots? Is it because I had met Shirley Scott (aka Shirl the Purl)? I really have no idea why I bought this book and have never read from cover to cover. It was published in 1990 so I have no excuse not to have read before now. Well I say – better late than never!
Canada Knits – back cover
What have I found out so far? I’ve covered how knitting came to Canada and knitting from sea to sea. In Chapter 3, I learned what Canadians knit which includes war knitting, baby knits and some historical knits including wool long johns for year-round wearing. Can you only imagine?
I’m in the middle of Canada’s knitting yarns. This will be my next post.
Do I like the book? Yes. Is it worth a read? Yes. Will I keep the book? I’ll let you know next time and include a few more great pictures.