A book I had on my Amazon wish list since its publication in 2011 was Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius's American publication The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. Last Christmas it became mine at last and I have enjoyed looking through it and comparing the different wool breeds, but I know it is not the kind of book I am ever going to read from cover to cover. It is a reference book, but far more interesting, ideal for dipping in and out of. As a spinner, this book is a wonderful addition to my library and if I ever wonder what on earth to use a certain yarn for, this book will be able to help me make a decision, too.
What you get
The book is packed with photos of over 200 different fibres, both in their spun and unspun state. I especially like the presentation of the wool from the unwashed fleece all the way through to the knitted sample. It gives me a clear visual of what a fibre or yarn will give me if I knit it up.
There is a lot to learn about what each type of wool is best used for, the history of the breed, and best of all, the book includes pretty much all breeds worldwide. There are maps on the inside cover marking where you find each breed, which is wonderful to see. More importantly, though, the book does not restrict itself to sheep breeds alone. There are also chapters on yak, goats, bison, dogs, horses and more!
Who is it for?
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is really well-priced, I think - you get a lot of information and great photographs in 336 pages of this heavy hardback. The index makes it easy to find what you are looking for, should you have questions about something very specific. It is not just a book for spinners and knitters, however. Anyone working with wool will benefit: felters, crocheters, dyers, weavers, and more.
What you won't get
I like how the book is structured, too, and so clearly organised in easily digestible chunks. If you are expecting knitting patterns and other projects, you will be disappointed as this is solely a reference book, albeit an incredibly beautiful and well-produced one. The text reads like you would expect from a reference book, so be prepared if you were hoping for an entertaining read instead.
If you are looking for a comprehensive book about fibre, this may be the very best you can get. This is why I had it on my wish list in the first place. I do not know of a book that covers any more and is presented as beautifully as The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. Now, if there is an equally good book about vegetable fibres for spinning, then I'll be all set.
It is incredible to think that the authors have sourced and worked with all the fibres they present in their book. There are so many sheep breeds alone that I had never heard of before opening this book and now I want to spin them all!