Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review - The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook

I’ve been meaning to post about a new book that I got a few weeks ago, and I saw that Theresa beat me to the punch. The book is “The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook” by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius. My advice to anyone that is into spinning is to order this book immediately. It is simply the best book on fiber that I have found. The pictures are breathtaking and extremely well presented. Thanks to our UK friend Hannah for pointing this book out to us recently. We also have a few other UK books that I’ll be blogging about that contained interesting sections on Shetlands. Those are books that Hannah brought to a fiber thing we had at our house and I liked them so well, we picked up copies for ourselves. Hannah was raised in the UK around sheep and has been nice enough to share information with us.

Anyway, this book has some really nice information on Shetlands, including wonderful fleece pictures of different types. As Theresa pointed out, the fine white on the top of page 190 is stunning. And since we now have good examples of that in our flock, it was nice to see it in print. I don’t totally agree with the authors’ assessment that some of the examples were single coated, but they were good examples of the breed nonetheless. The pictures on the bottom of page 190 are nice, but contain a lot of tip in my opinion. To me, they are examples of what we used to call intermediate, but in my experience, intermediates are typically double-coated (a small point, however, and one that might not be shared by all).

At any rate, I think this book presents an excellent, well-balanced portrait of the Shetland and my hat goes off to the authors for their exhaustive work. If you aren’t a Shetland spinner, I think you will love the other breeds that are presented as well. Each is placed in its correct category, which was a nice way to organize the book. The Shetlands were placed in the Northern European Short-Tailed Family and not in the Longwool section as some breeders would have you believe. I just think well-researched books like this are a treasure to have since there is so much misinformation about the breed out there. I am not an expert on any of the breeds presented in the book, so I’d love to hear from people who have thoughts on the information presented. As a Shetland breeder, I was thrilled. No, I don’t agree that Shetlands should have fleece lengths over 6”, but the authors are not taking up sides, but are merely presenting facts about the North American Shetland. And I respect that approach.

I also loved that you could flip through the various breeds and compare them to Shetlands. This book allows people the opportunity to see the differences in lock structure and fineness. The Soay, Icelandic, and North Ronaldsay fleeces are all different from Shetland and the book does a fabulous job of differentiating the breeds through both pictures and words.

Check it out. I’m sure many might find flaws here and there, but I thought it was a work of art filled with incredible information. Of course, I bought it for the large section on Shetland Sheep, but it has so much more than that. I just can’t say enough about the book (although I probably have).