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The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  977 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Not all yarns are alike. Some make our hearts and hands sing, some get the job done without much fanfare, and some cause nothing but frustration and disappointment. The gorgeous pair of socks that emerged from their first bath twice as long as when they went in. The delicate baby sweater that started pilling before it even came off the needles. The stunning colorwork scarf ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by Potter Craft
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Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie StollerKnitting Without Tears by Elizabeth ZimmermannElizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth ZimmermannThe Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann BuddThe Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe
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8th out of 140 books — 136 voters
Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth ZimmermannStitch 'n Bitch by Debbie StollerKnitting Without Tears by Elizabeth ZimmermannKnitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPheeYarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Knitting Nonfiction
8th out of 57 books — 68 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,739)
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Hallie
I've owned this pretty much since it was published, but I've done a bit of a reread recently, and it's the kind of book you get a lot out of on rereads. Not because it's unclear at all, but because there's a wealth of information that I, at least, hadn't seen before reading this. There's really only one pattern I love in the book, and that's the Maine Morning Mitts, which is available for free online. (I've made it many times and it's a great pattern.) It wasn't until this browse through that I ...more
Cillaann
I may be the only one that isn't ohing and ahing about this title. I think the problem is the fact that I have a strong textile chemistry background and the fiber chapters were not all together accurate. So I found the book anoying.
Jennie
Oct 21, 2007 Jennie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hard-core knitters
I'm willing to admit that this book probaby sounds deadly boring to non-knitters, and maybe even to some less-dedicated knitters. But if you want to understand the basis of the medium, this book is a very good start. The organization (kinds of fiber, how they're spun and dyed, and why yarn is or isn't plied) is good. The author does a good job of explaining how the structure of the yarn influences how designers use them in knitted garments. And although I'm not a fan of all the patterns in the b ...more
Anodyne_from_Walkers
An excellent book I'd like to buy. It gives you the family tree (categorizations) of yarn, and tells you, as you have been told no where else, what yarns are good for what types of knitting projects ! It discusses how yarn is made, from what source (animal, veggie, man-made), the types of ply's, whether large industry or small farm, giving patterns for the particular yarns that will showcase them off best. She gives additional reading and internet resources, and encourages patronizing small make ...more
Laura
I was seduced by the title's promise to be the ultimate guide.

Even after reading descriptions of different yarn, I didn't see how this would help me when in the yarn shop. Paying attention to the labels in our clothes seems more helpful than this book. I found the listing of brands strange. I wasn't looking for brands - what if they stop making a product line? How helpful is that?
After reading, I came back to my original subconscious thought: Nothing beats experiential learning.

Jen
I am a fiber geek now

I know that qiviut is the warmest yarn (and expensive). That you can knit with opossum. And that rayon used to be called "wood silk".

I know the difference between woolen spun and worsted.

I know why merino feels so dang good.

And why angora is stifly hot.

ohhh the things in my little head.

Good book. Not sure about the patterns, but go have fun.
Shelia
I need to qualify my review to mwntion that I am a contributor, in a small way, so I am not totally unbiased. This is a book that I wish had been available when I was a new knitter, and even without taking account of any of the patterns, it is one that will be useful to knitters and other fiber crafters because of the solid infornation that the author has included.
julia
I LOVE this book! I've learned so much about the different categories of yarn and which purposes each type of yarn are suited for. I appreciate yarn even more now. The projects in here are great too. The next big yarn sale I go to will definitely find me with this book in hand to better understand what I'm buying. A timeless reference book.
Sue
I treated reading this book like a study assignment, and took 30 pages of notes as I went along. I learned so much about fibers and how they feel, knit, wash, wear, insulate, itch, stretch, and more.

I can apply this information to not only my yarn choices for knitting, but also my clothing purchases. Why does some silk smell bad? What do the Pima Indians of Arizona have to do with my favorite cotton sheets? Why do some of my cotton t-shirts shrink biased? Why is hand-washing better than dry cle
...more
Lil' Grogan
Judging by its billing as the "ultimate guide" this book failed for me. While there were details I found useful, it's very American and author-centric. There were fibres not covered in the book, which may reflect on the speed of new yarn being developed/made available or a reflection on the author's limitations (on availability, it seems. Though if you're setting out to write the ultimate guide, surely you'd try to get your hands on the more "exotic" materials).

At times the book reads more like
...more
Jen
Such a clear explanation of each type of fiber, what its characteristics are, and why. Perfect for someone like me who never finds a pattern and goes out and buys the exact specified yarn - my style is more trying to adjust a pattern I found to yarn I've had for years, or unravelled from an old sweater, etc - so knowing what yarn is appropriate (for warmth, drape, wear, itchiness, type of stitches...) would really be great. A really good resource - now I just have to memorize this before returni ...more
April
The design (and scent!) of this book is so delicious I feel like I should lick my fingers after consuming any bit of it. This seems appropriate given the exquisite yarns Clara Parkes details in the way only a passionate aficionado could. I didn't want this book to end. Within its beautifully uncoated, color-saturated pages, Parkes explores yarns made from natural fibers to manmade and everything in-between, including a look into the different scales at and methods with which they are spun and dy ...more
Beth666ann
Excellent, clear description of types of yarn and how they are produced. (note to self: silk is repulsive) Finally, I understand this "ply" thing, and weights, etc.etc. Plus, there are great, great patterns to do in each type of yarn. Very lovely design as well.
Rho
This may be on my read shelf but it is a book that gets taken of often for information about a yarn I might be thinking of using.
Donna
I learned a lot about different types of fiber from this book, those chapters are clearly-written and really interesting.

I'm not wild about the pattern selection, though of course taste in knitting patterns is really subjective. So I'd be much more likely to buy this book if more of the space dedicated to patterns had been reserved for yarn talk.

The sections about yarn construction were brief and mostly served as introductions for each pattern chapter. These sections weren't presented in a way
...more
Kristy Bryson
Clara Parkes is a top-notch expert in the world of yarn. I wasn't blown away by all of the patterns in the book, though they aren't bad. The beginning half, which focuses on the fiber and make of actual yarn, was what I was primarily interested in. I am going to check out her second book in this series which focuses on just wool yarn.
Jean
This is an excellent primer on yarn. The author describes the whole process of yarn from the fiber level to the finished spun yarn. She provides a great survey of the different types of fibers and the inherent nature of these fibers and how it affects your knitted piece. It's kind of the "Good Eats" of knitting. She goes into some scientific detail but not too deeply -- just enough for what you need. Very easy to read. I borrowed this from the library and intend to get my own copy as a reference ...more
Judy Desetti
Interesting information for the first half of book. Second half has some great patterns. Tons of information in this volume. Will need to reread again later.
Barrie
This book is ownable. I have so many unidentified yarns and really need to know what they would be good for and how to determine what they are. She gives really great insight into each type of yarn and I can't wait to explore my stash with all this new information.
Teresa
I really enjoyed the first half of the book where it talked about the different types of yarn, and give that 4 stars. However, the patterns in the second half rather confused me (granted, I'm not a great knitter), and I wasn't that interested in them, so I give 2.5 stars to part 2.

I'd actually consider buying this book if it were just the first part and therefore a fraction of the price. Maybe I should check out her "The Knitter's Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Lo
...more
Joy
This was a fascinating book, and a great addition to my crafting library. The author goes over various types of yarn, not limited to just the fibers but also the yarn weight, details of how it was spun, plys, and so on. Each yarn type is deconstructed and its behavior explained, with several different examples shown along with a few patterns that show off that type of yarn to its best advantage. As a beginner knitter, I found this incredibly helpful and I think it will help me be more successful ...more
Tiffany Klier
So far I've been reading and re-reading the first part of this excellent non-fiction book. I've already learned so many things about natural fibers and weights of yarn. It will be useful one day... sure.

... dateline June 2008... officially ordered my own personal copy of this book. Too many people were waiting for it and it was just so exciting! There were a couple of patterns I'd like to try, so I simply ordered it from Baker & Taylor. currently waiting.....

....
Sian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon
A little bit more advanced than I am...I'm not really to the point of purchasing yarn from specific farms because of their practices and determining the level of processing on the wool. But an interesting book to flip through nonetheless. It could probably be a yarn bible for those who spin and dye their own yarn or seek out those who do. For my fellow "If I Can't Get It At A.C. Moore, I'm Not Getting It" set, this is a little beyond our scope.
Sarah
The Book of Yarn is actually pretty darn nifty. The book talks about the different fibers and weights that are typically used in yarn, and how to decided what's appropriate for certain projects. It also has a healthy number of patterns I'd actually make. Totally recommended for someone who is just getting past the scarf stage and is trying to understand what is at their disposal.
Charlotte
A very comprehensive and scientific look at fiber and how it behaves The patterns are limited (although appealing in general) but the description of the different types of yarn and fiber is excellent. I've already started to incorporate what I learned into my knitting. A bit more talk on substituting yarn and less on fiber fairs would be welcome but that is my own personal bias.
Tenli
Aug 23, 2008 Tenli rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone with Yarn Aquisition Disorder
Tonight when I got home from work there was a package from my friend on the East Coast who just attended the Rhinebeck NY Sheep and Wool festival. Inside was a signed copy of this book. LUCKY ME!!
Chapter II: So far, I've made the Maine Morning Mitts (one and a half pairs and counting) and the Scaruffle, all for holiday gifts. This book is a treasure and I am on a roll with it!
Theresa
Essentially an overview of the different types of yarn both man-made and natural along with patterns. Explains how yarn goes from being on an animal to becoming yarn (and all the steps in between). Also explains why yarns do things like felt, shrink, grow, etc.

Very interesting as a reference book on what has the potential to be a rather boring subject.
Rachel
Geeky!

after finishing: Lots of useful information, lots of stuff to think about. Patterns kind of ehhh, but I'm not really a pattern kind of person to begin with. A fair amount of folksy mysticism about Letting The Yarn Speak at the end, which was amusing and sort of embarrassing but not unexpected.

All in all,a pretty decent resource.
Becca
This book is a great reference, but I wish it contained more information on the spinning. The patterns do not particularly appeal to me for the most part, though I like how they are presented. Overall, this would be great for a knitter who doesn't spin, to give them information about yarn composition they wouldn't otherwise have.
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CLARA PARKES left her career in the booming high-tech industry to pursue her love of knitting. She lives on the coast of Maine in a farmhouse full of yarn. She is the publisher of KnittersReview.com and a contributor to Interweave Knits."
More about Clara Parkes...
The Knitter's Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting The Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime KnitKnacks: Much Ado About Knitting Knitting Memories: Reflections on the Knitter's Life

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