Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook.

Note: The review in this post was compensated in any way. I purchased this item myself and am reviewing it of my own will.
I've been hinting all week that I got a new book and that I was going to review it, and here it is, the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius.

Now, apparently this book came out June 1st according to Amazon, so since this is the end of July I'm late to the game. I have it now though, so all is forgiven, right? I have been wanting a book like this for years. The subtitle is "More Than 200 Fibers From Animal to Spun Yarn," and when I read that I stopped reading further and added it to my Amazon cart. I have been looking on Amazon for years wanting a book specifically about fiber, but all of my fiber searches resulted in books about what to do with fiber after it is fabric/yarn/roving. That didn't satisfy me. I wanted to know about it before it got to that point. And now, I have more information about fiber that I could ever remember at my fingertips.

First Impressions

When I went into my apartment complex's office to pick up my package, I was surprised as to how big the box was (all I ordered was this book). I got it back to my apartment and out of the box, and yes, this is a huge book. 438 pages huge. I quickly flipped through the pages and it became clear that this is the textbook for people interested in fiber. A textbook you want to read, that is. In my first flip-through, it also became very clear that one of the things I would love about this book is the photography. Big, beautiful pictures of animals, yarn, or raw fiber grace almost every page. Even if I wasn't interested in the wording, I decided that it would make a great coffee table book.

The Beginning Content

I opened up to the table of contents to see what I was getting myself into. I was greeted by a huge list of sheep covered in the book. I flipped the page and the list of sheep continued. That didn't even include the non-sheep animals in the book. I was surprised and delighted to discover that each breed seemed to get its own page. Once I got past the table of contents, I read all of the information leading up to the individual breed profiles. There was a ton of information packed into those first 20 or so pages, ranging from comparing and contrasting protein (animal) fibers to cellulose (plant) fibers, the process of getting fiber from animal to consumer, and the importance of shopping for breed-specific fiber. There are a ton of helpful tips, and terms that could be confusing are addressed and explained. Multiple ways of grading fiber are listed and explained in detail. At the end of the first section, there are several pages of terms that might be unfamiliar to people that will be used in the animal profiles with explanations of each.

The Animals

I haven't read all of the animal profiles yet, but the ones I have read have amazed me with their detail. The sheep are broken up by family, such as the Blackfaced Mountain family, and there is information on the family as a whole. Then, it is broken up further and addresses each type separately. There is information about the breed in paragraph form, and then there are facts such as staple length and lock characteristics listed in bullet form. Then, There is information about how it takes dye, how it spins, knits, crochets, weaves, and what it is most commonly used for. Pictures show the raw fiber, cleaned fiber, and the fiber spun, woven, and knitted.

Final Thoughts

I was completely blown away by the attention to detail in this book. The photography is beautiful. There is more information than I could ever hope for. This book will become one of those books that is a staple on the shelves of everyone who cares at all about fiber. I've read a lot of knitting/crochet/dyeing/fiber art books, and I have never seen anything like this before. Maybe if you aren't interested at all about the type of yarn you use, you won't get much out of this book. But if you love trying different types of yarn or fiber, interested in where your fiber comes from, you spin, or you dye, this book is on the required reading list.

Do you have a book that you think should be required reading for crafters/fiber artists? Let me know in the comments.