I do love a good bit of serendipity, those rare moments where everything falls into place as though you’d planned it that way. Last week we took delivery of some new yarn bases, British sourced & spun BFL & Wensleydale (each skein comes with its own little certificate so that you know you are getting British wool), and you are going to love them. They smell so…….. sheepy. I got a little high inhaling them. More on that later this week (the yarn, not the sniffing).
Then I was given the opportunity to preview a new book, and to participate in a blog tour reviewing it. The book is Pure Wool by Sue Blacker . I love it. Looking through it, I swear I can smell that woolly scent all over again. There’s just something about natural wool yarns, something cosy and homely and comforting, and Sue has managed to capture that same feeling in this lovely book. It’s a treat to the eye, from the lovely matte paper to the many, many photographs.
Woven throughout the book are the stories of each breed of sheep, which I loved. I had no idea (to my shame) that there were so many breeds, such diversity (Zwartbles, have you ever heard of them?!). I think it’s terribly sad that we’ve become so narrow in our choices, and I applaud Sue’s efforts to revive interest in some of the lesser known breeds through this book. She is well placed to champion this cause, since she runs the yarn company Blacker Yarns, and The Natural Fibre Company, a specialist wool mill in Devon.
The book is very well planned, with the stories of each breed alternating with patterns designed for those yarns. I think I would have been a bit daunted if they had chosen to put all the breed information together in one lump, and then all the patterns afterwards (as I’ve seen in other books), and would have ended up skipping past the stories to get to the patterns. There is so much information in the book, but it’s so well presented that you find yourself enthralled, rather than feeling like you’re being educated.
There are some great patterns too, erring on the side of classics (not always a bad thing if you ask me, since they are timeless instead of trendy), and definitely designed to make the single breed yarn the real feature of the project. I loved the Wavy Cable jumper, the Sanquhar cushion, and the Climbing Vines cardigan. The patterns have all been knitted in Sue’s yarns, but there is an excellent chart to help you choose suitable substitute yarns if you prefer. A nice little feature is that there is a profile of each knitter who knitted up the design – I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before, and it is a very gracious nod to those hard workers.
There is a lot of work being done now to promote British wool, a campaign that is backed by Prince Charles, and I am delighted to see the profile of British wool rising among crafters, designers, dyers, and manufacturers. I hope that Sue is very proud of her book – she should be. It is published by Bloomsbury Books in the UK and Stackpole Books in the USA (a last twist of serendipity, since Stackpole is the next village over from us!). You can buy it directly from Blacker Yarns (£12 plus p&p), through Amazon, or directly from Bloomsbury or Stackpole ($19.95).
The next stop of the blog tour is Annie Modesitt’s blog, so do drop by there tomorrow for her review of the book!