Lots of people with blogs do book reviews on a regular basis. They are usually talking about newly published books. Today I want to talk about a book that I love that isn’t even close to newly published. It’s a book that I have used as a reference for more than 10 years. A book that I own at least 3 copies of because I always need it. It’s a book that sits proudly on the shelf next to my other favorite reference gooks like The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and The Big Book of Handspinning.
In Sheep’s Clothing was written by Nola and Jane Fournier and published by Interweave Press in 1995.
When I started on my path of wool types discovery In Sheep’s Clothing was the only book around that talked about a wide variety of sheep breeds and what to expect from them. It was my go-to place to find out about a wool and its background. I still go to this book in addition to the ginormous Fleece book by Deborah Robson/ Carol Ekarius.
Here’s the thing I want to really focus on today though. In Sheep’s Clothing is 223 pages including the index. Many of us who have the book focus on the breeds information inside but there are about 70 pages of other information.
The first chapter of the book talks about wool structure, how it grows and the characteristics of wool that make it different than other animal fibers. Some basic information about woolen and worsted yarns is also discussed.
At the end of the first chapter they tell us about how the wools were categorized for the book. These categories shaped how I look at wool and if you’ve taken my breeds study class you will see some similarities in my way of thinking with the Fournier’s – though we do differ in a couple of places.
The middle of the book is where most people who have the book look the most. But then, beginning on page 167, there are some not so hidden treasures.
Pages and pages of how to select a fleece based on what project you have in mind. They talk about things like handle, Soundness, Length, Crimp, Color and Vegetable Matter. there is great information about how to sort a fleece and what kinds of faults a fleece may have and whether they will be a problem for you as a spinner or not.
The whole of chapter 8 is about blending wool. Some of it is about blending wool with other wools, blending wool with silk and other fibers. Proportions are discussed as well as blending techniques and what tools will help you blend the fibers in a way that will result in the yarn you want.
Chapter 9 talks about terms and techniques. here are the basics of flicking, using hand cards, and combing. What is the difference between top, roving and sliver? It’s all here. There is even a nice little section on how to rejuvenate that processed fiber you’ve had in your stash for ages.
All of the basic drafting and plying methods are here – including chain plying!
And finally, if you are feeling stiff from all of that spinning there are exercises you can do to help relieve strain and pain.
Seriously, if you don’t have this book, get it. If you have it but haven’t looked lately, take another look. This book is full of little gems that will help you improve your spinning even if you aren’t spinning from a raw fleece.
I do have a few still in stock if you need to add this to your library.