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

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4.38  ·  Rating details ·  738 ratings  ·  68 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
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Potter Craft
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4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  738 ratings  ·  68 reviews


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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
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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
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Ellen
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
Sarah
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, 2011
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!
Kara
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.
Paula
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!
Marieke
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i love this book. i think it's becoming one of my favorite reference books.
Anne
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
Siobhan
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
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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.
Jackie
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.
Laura
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.
Heather
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent source for anyone who wants to learn more.
Andrew
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Detailed, loving exploration of sheep and wool, with a lovely selection of patterns.
Shannon
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
Amy
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
Elise
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dawna
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
Ashley
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting, nonfiction
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.
Anna
Feb 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Very disappointing. And absolutely not the Ultimate Guide. This book is not comprehensive at all, so it's definitely not the best choice if you really want a thorough piece of information about different sheep breeds and their speficic qualities. As for the patterns, there are so many stunning knitting patterns elsewhere. I do not necessarily want loads knitting patterns when I go for a book about sheep breeds and wool.
Jen Johnson
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.
Janis
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.
Kristine
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.
Leslie
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!
Lynne
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.
Sherri
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.
Sian
I did not finish this book, I only read half. Felt it was very informative about different types of sheep breeds, a basic overview of the main breeds differences and the qualities of their fibers. I would check this one out again but at the time its on my back burner.
Julie Macaller
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a technical writer myself, I appreciate clear writing on any subject, and Clara Parkes does a wonderful job in this book. I learned more than I expected about sheep and their wool. Fascinating and fun. A few patterns I want to knit also, for a bonus!
Suzanne
Beautiful, with more information about different types of wool than I could ever comprehend! I own The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and at this point I don't think I would need to supplement my collection with this book.
Ann
Mar 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: knitting
Lots of detailed information on wool and different breeds of sheep and the effect any of this would have on your knitting. Gorgeous illustrations and photography. I haven't tried any of the patterns yet, but I'm sure I will soon.
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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."