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Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber, indeed.

Lara's Library (Sort Of): The Knitter's Book of Wool

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Blue links within the table of contents allow the reader to skip to the section which most interests them.

This week, I'm looking at another ebook from my library.

The Knitter's Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber, by Clara Parkes is packed with information, well-organized, and also really fun to read.

I've loved Parkes' writing style for years. Who can resist her jovial, well-informed tone? I can't overemphasize this enough. I've never seen another writer compare the effect of twice-cut wool in yarn to tissues in a full load of laundry (they often form pills called "neps"). Hilarious and smart.

There are patterns in the book, but this isn't a really a pattern or technique book, as much as it is an "appreciation and information" book.

Beautiful photography and inviting layouts didn't overwhelm the central mission of the book, which appears to be cramming as much information as possible, in an easy-to-read way, into it.

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Just look at that little charmer!

Chapters break this information into manageable parts. The section that interested me the most was "Meet the Breeds," where many, many sheep breeds are broken into their categories, and then explained with an exceptional attention to detail.

Which brings me to my current obsession: Corriedale.

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
These blue headings are not links. Note the slightly different shade of blue.

It started out small. I bought one precious skein of Corriedale at a fiber festival on the weekend that I graduated from college.

Eventually, I knit a scarf out of it, to help take the edge off of my stress levels in graduate school. The yarn was springy, and the resulting scarf, while soft enough to wear against my neck, has stood up to regular wear for about 10 years with no complaints or pills.

I love it.

When I read The Knitter's Book of Socks, Parkes deepened by obsession by mentioning that Corriedale should knock Merino down a peg or two off of its super-hedgemony over sock yarn.

...or maybe that's just how I interpreted what she wrote.

I discovered that Corriedale sock yarn is hard to come by, but Corriedale roving is not.

The final nail in my "trying not to obsess over Corriedale" coffin was struck when I read Parkes' notes on Corriedale. "Beginning handspinners love Corriedale," was music to my heart.

I'm totally buying some as soon as I finish off the random bits of Merino I have left over from a thrumming project.

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Sheep breed information is topped off with photos of the wool, then spun yarn.

Anyway, back to the book. The edition I read, an Adobe ebook, was also a great translation into the digital medium. Blue links allowed me to skip through the book to my heart's content, be it from the contents page, index page, or even within chapters. I really like this flexibility, because it operates exactly like a paper book, only faster.

Overall, a really lovely book, which could be good for choosing your next sheep breed obsession, or just feeding your current one.

The book is available from Amazon (the link is above), and from Random House as both a hardcover ($30 right now) and as an ebook ($15.99 right now).

(Random House also has a cute "Which Ewe are You?" quiz on their website.)

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