If you’ve spent more than five minutes in the yarn spinning community, you’ve probably heard of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson.
It is a wonderful resource not only for spinners but also knitters, weavers, crafters, and anyone else who is a fan of sheep and history! There is so much helpful and interesting information in this book — more than what you can find by just Googling! If you purchase this book, you know it will never get dusty on your bookshelf because you’ll always be flipping through it.
So what makes this book so awesome? I could go on and on about all the reasons I love this book, but here are the top five ways I use The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook:
1. Research specific breeds of sheep
This book has all kinds of interesting information and historical facts about many different sheep breeds. You can learn things like how and where the breed was developed, why it was developed, and what it was used for.
Not everything is directly helpful for spinning and crafting, but it is a great read for anyone interested in learning more about sheep and their history.
2. See where specific breeds come from
There are world maps on the inside of the front and back covers that show you where different breeds come from. These maps are great for historical deep dives into what types of wool would have been available to certain people at a specific place or time.
This is helpful for re-enactors or people looking to recreate historical cloth for weaving or knitting. It narrows down your search very quickly.
3. Find specific properties of wool
There is a list of characteristics for each breed of wool, which can narrow down your choices if you’re looking for a wool that you want to prep from the raw fleece.
It can tell you how big a fleece will be, how long the wool is, and what the micron count is for the breed (the diameter of the wool). It can answer questions like how big a fleece it is, will it need to be combed or hand carded, and will it be a fine, softer wool like merino or a rough, carpet-type wool?
You’ll always know if the fleece you’re looking at is going to be good for your project, even when buying fleece online — which is so important when you can’t see and feel the wool!
4. Look up natural wool colors
Not all sheep are white or black! There is a wide range of natural wool colors in between. The book has helpful color charts that show what colors to expect for each breed.
It also gives information about the wool’s characteristics for dyeing. You can find information about how well a wool takes up dye, if it is a good wool to overdye, and if it will be bright and glossy or muted and matte? If you’re working with a dirty fleece, it also shows what the washed fleece will look like compared to the dirty fleece.
5. Preview different patterns
The book shows examples of what each wool type looks like when it is used in a knitted pattern and a woven pattern. This helps you know what each wool might look like in your project. Of course, there is a lot of variation in the sheep, how you spin, etc., but this is a great way to get an idea of what it might look like.
6. Bonus! A comfort read
There are so many interesting little articles and tidbits of information sprinkled throughout this book, so it is not just a glossary book. It can be a nice rainy-day comfort read when you just want to geek out about wool and sheep!
I would love to hear about all the ways The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook has helped you. Leave a comment below about why you love this book!