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Two great books for fiber artsts

Two great books for fiber artsts

A couple weeks ago, a customer came in to pick up a needle she had ordered. She said she had her yarn ready to go and an audiobook cued up and she was heading home to sit on the couch, listen and cast on. 

It was a gray day and a little rainy and honestly, nothing sounded like a better idea than that.

If you’re looking for a couple fiber-themed books to go with your latest work-in-progress, I’ve got two suggestions.  

First up is Clara Parkes’ “Vanishing Fleece,” published in 2019. 

It’s the story of Parkes’ journey transforming a 600-plus bale of wool fleece into a commercial yarn. Along the way, she talks about the American wool industry and about the small mills and businesses that still work turning fleeces into yarn. 

It’s a fascinating story and it will give you a new way to look at a skein of yarn. 

The second book, “Unraveling,” by Peggy Orenstein, was published this year and is subtitled “What I learned about life while shearing sheep, dyeing wool and making the world’s ugliest sweater.”

While she covered many of the same topics Parkes did, Orenstein’s book is a personal and small-scale accounting of how she sheared a sheep, learned to spin, learned to dye and made a sweater. 

I knew Orenstein mostly through her writing on adolescence, so it was fun for me to discover she’s also a knitter, and to hear about her adventures in the fiber arts. 

I won’t be signing up to shear a sheep any time soon; it sounds grueling and difficult, but it was fascinating to hear about how she learned to do it.

So if you’ve always wondered what happens between the sheep and your needles, both these books will help you discover even more about your favorite fiber art.

As always, support your local library, but if you want to add these books to your personal collection, we recommend our next-door neighbors, The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn.

And for audiobook fans, is an independent audiobook service I just learned about that supports the local bookstore of your choice. I listened to the Orenstein book in my car and really enjoyed it.

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Elizabeth - February 10, 2024

Good Morning. I hope you will review more such books about fiber and textile history! Another good one is THE LOST FLOCK by Jane Cooper.

And a caveat: Orenstein gets many facts wrong in her book. As an example, she claims that the Greeks did not have a word for blue. That is just NOT true!

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