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The Knitter's Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  784 ratings  ·  70 reviews
In this complete guide to wool - the most popular yarn around - passionate wool expert Clara Parkes translates the vast world of sheep and their wool into the language and context of knitting.

What is wool? Clara starts with the fundamentals: what wool is made of, how it gets off the sheep, and how it is transformed from a jumbled mass of dirty fluff into a gorgeous yarn th
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Potter Craft
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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Stephany Wilkes
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I am a Wool Person. One of the things I love most about living where I do is a local climate that enables me to don a wool sweater almost every evening (without air conditioning). With that out of the way...

Well, I thought I was a Wool Person, until this Clara Parkes came along. Her deep and abiding passion for her subject surpasses not only mine, but that of most knitters I know, and it comes through in her book. The tone of the book, though, is not one of ardor but one of curi
Nostalgia Reader
Great breakdown of how wool "works" in yarn, as well as a basic, but extensive, rundown of various sheep breed stats (staple length, softness, feltability, etc.), and a section discussing how wool blends with other fibers and how these blends act (drape, luster, halo, etc.) As someone who has been wanting to pay more attention to and learn the differences between breeds, this is a great starting point. I can also see it being helpful for knitters who are branching out into spinning.

As with the o
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: making
"Imagine if all the wine in the world - red and white alike - were mixed together and sold as generic 'wine.' Think of how many centuries of craftsmanship and flavor would be lost, and how mediocre it would taste compared with how it would taste if the grapes had been kept separate or selectively blended. Such an act would be almost unthinkable in the food world. But in the knitting world, just as much nuance is lost every day when flat, bouncy, long, short, matte, and lustrous fibers from ancie ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, reviewed
The Book of Wool isactually pretty darn nifty. The book is much more oriented towards the different types of wool producing creatures and the finer points of each. There's quite a difference between merino and shetland, for example, and knowing the characteristics and the types of projects it's best suited for (next to the skin as opposed to outerwear, or even rugs,) is important when planning projects. As an added bonus, the book also features a number of patterns I would actually make. Huzzah! ...more
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I actually read this book cover to cover. Learned quite a bit. There are a few patterns I plan to try and the photography was wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading her The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn. ...more
Meredith Henning
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
...still awaiting this one, I'm #55 on my hold request list... ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i love this book. i think it's becoming one of my favorite reference books. ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book, well but I am just a BIT obsessed with knitting and these amazing yarns that come from sheep - this book breaks things down and it is quite enjoyable!
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent place to start when learning about wool. Well described technical information about many different breeds. I feel like I need to take my copy along with me to the next county fair so I can read about some of the breeds as they stand before me. In the past, I have preferred unblended yarns, but her explanation of the benefits of blending various fibers together, along with the photos of the projects in various types of yarn, have led me to rethink my snobbish ways. I got this at the ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knitting, fibre-arts
An excellent book that is really full of information. Even in just eighty pages you get a lot! What is great about this book is that you can get a lot of this book being a knitter/crocheter, spinner or if you are all three! So it is a very useful book!

There are quite a few patterns but not many for the beginner. That is the only reason I took a star off because a beginner will only be able to make use of about half of the book because the patterns take up around a half of the book at the end. B
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: do-it-yourself
I was very disappointed to see that the majority of the book lists patterns. I am more interested in the information she lists in chapters 1-3: 1. What is wool?, 2. From pasture to Pullover, turning wool into yarn., 3. Meet the breeds.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a great starter resource: an introduction to the properties of wool, how it's processed, and the groups of sheep breeds. I was hoping for more in-depth accounts of each breed, but I think I'll have to turn to Deborah Robson for that. ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent source for anyone who wants to learn more.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Detailed, loving exploration of sheep and wool, with a lovely selection of patterns.
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: comebackto
a great reference to understand the knitty gritty of wool - where it comes from the differences that you find and how to understand it.
Oct 16, 2019 added it
Just what I wanted to know about wool in a light and interesting writing style.
Sara VA
Very thorough look at wool specifically..... great for those deeply interested in the details of wool yarn, but for a broader and less in-depth look, try "The Knitter's Book of Yarn" which covers a wider range of yarn - including wool.
Didn't love this book because I wasn't in the mood to read something this detailed. Doesn't mean its a bad book, just had the wrong attitude in reading it, which made it difficult to get through.
Jul 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: advanced knitters, people interested in handspinning
The Book of Wool takes a reader on a very thorough journey from how the hairs grow from a sheep's skin right down to final dyed and blended woolen commercial yarns. It was an interesting read and explained some of the many fascinating properties of wool and its use in textiles both historically and present-day. There are organized descriptions of dozens of breeds and their history with accompanying photos of processed and unprocessed wool and some pretty patterns at the back. I was pleasantly su ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crafty-books
This is a great starting point for Knitters and handspinners looking to understand more about wool and how we use it. I think this is a rather general reference (specificlly in the chapters about sheep breeds); but entirely relevant. Though not the most comprehensive, I came away with so much more knowledge than I came to the table with. Ever wonder why we blend wool with silk? Read this. However- be warned. This will only whet your appetite for more info on sheep breeds and their wool. Or maybe ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knitting
A good introduction for knitters to the varieties of sheep and how their wool becomes yarn. Parkes' style is clear and engaging; her personality shines through in her writing. She doesn't just describe the different types of wool, but also explains why knitters should care where their wool came from. Her enthusiasm is contagious and those who want to dig deeper will benefit from her recommended reading list. The knitting patterns are from top-notch designers. Parkes explains why she chose the ya ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As a knitter, I found this book extremely interesting. It explains, in depth, the nature and origin of all sorts of wool and the sheep that produce the wool. I know this would be invaluable to a spinner. I really enjoyed the information about wool blends and how they are best used. The second half of the book is patterns written to best demonstrate the properties of the yarns discussed in the first half. I am most intrigued by the lovely lace shawl patterns, as well as some lovely sweaters and s ...more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, knitting
Another fantastic reference book from Clara. This one delves into the differences between various types of wool, including details of a number of different breeds of sheep. It's neat to be able to read about the different breeds from which I already have yarn, and to have a guide to buying future kinds of yarn. Again, there are great patterns in the second half of the book that allow you to put your newfound wool knowledge to work. ...more
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crafty
Really loved this book, got me excited to experience and work with more types of wool. Excellent information on the entire process of shearing to spinning, and a thorough guide to most of the world's wool producing sheep and the specific qualities of their individual wool. Lots of pictures, tho I was left wanting for a little more. I reserved her other book, 'The Knitter's Book of Yarn', after reading this, and I hope that it's as enjoyable and inspirational. ...more
Nov 30, 2009 added it
Shelves: knitting
This is a very nice book. It goes further in depth into breeds of sheep than I am interested in at this time, but I'm happy to know this resource is available should I need it. There are some beautiful patterns in here. The Comfy Cardigan caught my eye, as did Cat Bordhi's socks and the use of Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn. ...more
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knitting
Finally finished this. It had some good information, but maybe I've wool geeked too much since I spin that not much was really revealed for me. I found the Knitter's Book of Yarn to be more enlightening. Still, a good book and I enjoy the sections on the various breeds and the cute illustrations for them. ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting
A great resource on what wool is, what it does, and how to work with different types of it. Obviously, it isn't all-encompassing, but it's a great reference book with some cute patterns in it. It makes me want to be more deliberate with what I spin and how I spin. I'll definitely be referring to this book in the future. ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a perfect Christmas gift for me. This book just makes me want to buy a sample of yarn made from every one of the sheep mentioned and knit with them. I might have to go out and buy Knitters Book of Yarn and the Knitters book of Socks as well.

As an added bonus, there are beautful patterns at the end of the book.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knitting
This book had so much fun information about sheep breeds and their wool's characteristics. I didn't read every word of that section, but it was still fascinating to discover. I had no idea there was so much variety! I liked the pattern section too, a nice variety of skill levels with suggestions to try the same pattern in different wools. Will do! ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A comprehensive look at wool. While it includes several nice patterns, the true strength of the book is its description of different types of wool. This will make for an excellent reference manual but the spattering of anecdotes made it enjoyable to read straight through, as well.
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiber-browse
A good comprehensive volume about different types of sheep and the differences in wool and the best use of specific yarns. I checked this out of the library, but am considering purchasing it for my collection.
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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 and a contributor to Interweave Knits." ...more

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