One of my aims for 2014 was to incorporate more book/ magazine reviews in to my blog posts, partly as an excuse to buy more books for myself but also to share some gems when I find them/ act as an enabler for other people with similar interests. To kick this off I thought I’d review one of the books I received for Christmas – The Field Guide to Fleece.
Robson, R & Ekarius, C (2013) The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds and How to Use Their Fibers. Storey Publishing
I’d asked my MIL for the book for Christmas after having seen it on a video podcast earlier on in the year but didn’t hold out much hope of getting it but I’m so glad that I did. The book itself is A5 in size so super easy to carry around with you/ bung in the bottom of your handbag, something which may well come in very handy later in the year if I am lucky enough to get to go to any fibre festivals this year. Each breed covered has a 2 page entry which covers some general details about the breed, a photograph of the sheep, information on how well they take up dye, what the best uses for the yarn are, origin, average fleece weights, staple lengths, fibre diameters, natural colours and an interesting fact about the breed.
The first thing I did when I opened the book was to flick to the sections that covered the 3 breeds of sheep that my brother owns. I already knew I wanted to blag part of one the Wensleydale fleeces that he will have but after reading up on the Swaledales and the Texels which he actually has for meat sheep I thought I’d try blagging some of those fleeces too. The second thing I did was to text my brother a picture of the cover, and then ended up looking up a couple of different sheep breeds and their uses for him, clearly these were ones he had his eye on buying but didn’t know if it would be worth it or not. It turns out it wasn’t just my brother and I that thought the book was brilliant. My MIL confessed that she had taken a quick look through the book before wrapping it up for Christmas for me (she also has a very small flock of pet sheep and has an interest in fibre arts) and I got a message from my Dad who had found out about the book from my brother and had already looked it up online to buy his own copy.
The only negative point that I can make about the book is that not all the breeds I wanted to read about were covered but as its limited to 100 breeds some inevitably wont make the cut and I could make assumptions about the best uses of the fleece as I knew what the parent stocks of the specific breeds I wanted to look up were.
Overall I would say that if you are interested in spinning, weaving or knitting or indeed own or hope to own your own sheep then this book is a very valuable resource. I’m only just beginning to discover that there is more to the world of spinning than commercially prepared merino tops so this book provided a fascinating journey of discovery and the start of many plans for new projects once I get my hands on some more fleece.