Spinning History

5 ways I use The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

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!

5 thoughts on “5 ways I use The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

  1. Barbara

    I refer to this book weekly. It answers so many questions right now that would take you minutes or hours on line.

  2. Cathy Goodrich

    I am a new spinner and I use the Fleece & Fiber resource book all the time. Right now, I use it to determine which fleeces are appropriate for a sweater that I am planning on making. I have been looking into whether or not second cuts can be used, if so how I can process them. So far, I have not found an answer, but I just started looking for an answer to my question. Thank you for your videos. I always learn from watching and rewatching them. I am totally hooked on everything fiber. I recently was given raw fiber and am planning on making a skirting frame like yours. Thank you, so much, for all you do to encourage and teach me along my fiber journey,

    1. Deborah Robson

      Second cuts can be used to make a tweedy texture in a yarn. I don’t think that info is in the book, but here you are! You can use them in the original yarn you’re spinning, or you can sprinkle them into a contrasting fiber (works best if you’re carding).

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book and finding it useful!

      1. JillianEve

        Deborah Robson, did you know I love your book?! 😄 I love this idea! I think I need to do some tweed experiments with my drum carder.

  3. Deborah Robson

    Thanks, everyone, for the good words. I wrote The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook because I wanted such a thing in my world, and it wasn’t there. I’m so glad that other people enjoy it.

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