April 08, 2008
Book Review: A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd
[A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review].
Allow me to introduce you to the next big thing. At least, it would be if all knitters were like me. When I first paged through I could hardly contain myself. I love this book.
As the title indicates, this is ostensibly a book about knitting with handspun yarn. However, as the author says, "you don't need to spin to enjoy this book..."
Got that one right.
There are 26 projects organized into three themes. Many are classic, textural designs based on Arans and ganseys. Every project is shown worked in both handspun and a commercially available millspun yarn. [Smart!] A number of the designs are unisex with guidance provided for subtle changes to make those designs a bit more gender specific. Some of the shapes tend to be boxy, but the suggested modifications can mitigate that. Of the 19 sweater designs shown, I could happily sit down and cast on for six right now, and I'd take a second look at another four. I have some yarn that has been waiting a long time to find a project and I feel that project may be between the covers of this book.
I do not think I will be knitting with my own handspun any time soon. I just began learning to spin at the end of last year. I have a long way to go before I'll be able to spin up enough decent yarn for a sweater-sized project. As a result, I only skimmed through the sections addressing the properties of fibers from different breeds and Ms. Lloyd's philosophy of designing handspun yarn through the combination of different fibers. I'll peruse those at another time.
Of course, you may be able to spin a sweater's worth of yarn. At first, I thought April was an unfortunate release date for this book—most knitters will be putting away their winter knitting soon. But if you do plan on using your own handspun, you could start designing and spinning your yarn now so you can begin knitting in time to have a wonderful sweater ready to wear when the chill returns.
Although millspun alternatives are given, if you must have handspun and are as spinning deficient as I am, remember that handspun yarn is available online and the spring fiber festivals are right around the corner—the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May, Black Sheep Gathering in June.
Bottom line: even if you don't spin, and never plan on learning, there is plenty here to keep a non-spinning knitter very, very happy.
06:51 AM | Permalink
Thanks for the review! I have this one on the way, and I'm not a spinner, and have no intention of becoming one. Every review of this I've read has been positive.
Posted by: Lorette at Apr 8, 2008 6:56:18 PM
Hi, MiMo - Tanya has raved about this book also, and I've been waiting for it for months now since I first heard about it. Thanks for a good review. As for April and spinning - this is the time to shop for fleeces! Shepherds generally shear right before lambing season, and spring fleeces are often the nicest. In fact, that's how MDSW got started - as a fleece sale for spinners! Good luck with your spinning!
Posted by: Sue T. at Apr 9, 2008 4:47:14 PM
Agreed! Awesome book. There's a Ravelry group with knit a longs and knitters and spinners too. Fun!
Posted by: Jennifer at Apr 25, 2008 10:52:03 AM