I recently got my hands on the library's copy of the new book A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd. (Glenna is going to post a review any time now, and I'm looking forward to what she has to say about it.) A Fine Fleece is a collection of 26 patterns for handspun yarns, though each design is knit up in commercially available yarn for knitters who don't spin or, I suppose, knitters who don't spin enough yarn for whole projects.
Let me say now that I never have been a spinner, nor have I ever particularly wanted to. My crafty inclinations take up enough space in my very small house that I can't imagine adding a pile of unspun fiber to the mix, nor can I imagine taking up another hobby I have no time for. I figure, I like knitting and I'm good at it and there are wonderful yarns out there already, so why try to spin yarn myself when it would look crappy (because there's no way I'd be good enough to make usable yarn, at least for a while) and not be enough for a project anyway? Of course, I've never sat at a spinning wheel and tried it out, though I've seen it done. In fact, one of my few clear memories from very early childhood is seeing a spinning wheel that belonged to a friend of my mother's. The spinner had long, long hair and the wheel was bigger than I was (I was probably 2 or 3 at the time), and she told me my hair was the color of "flax," which sounded so much nicer than "brown," which is how most people (non-spinners) would describe my hair color.
In any case, A Fine Fleece has almost made me change my mind. Lisa Lloyd and Clara Parkes (of Knitter's Review, also author of the most excellent Knitter's Book of Yarn), who wrote the forward, talk about the qualities of handspun yarn - vibrancy, color, feel, depth - that can not be mimicked in millspun yarns. It makes me want to give it a try and see what all the fuss is about.
And then there are the patterns. Oh, the patterns! (Click here for some images on Knitpicks) I don't think I've found a book full of patterns this appealing in a long, long while. Usually, I consider a book successful if there are two or three patterns I like, but A Fine Fleece is just the opposite. There are 26 patterns - mostly sweaters, but there are socks, scarves and a hat pattern as well - and with the exception of maybe two sweaters I want to cast on for everything RIGHT NOW. Mind you, the styling isn't for everyone. The patterns in A Fine Fleece include lots of intricate cables and lace and stitch work using animal fibers (obviously, since they're for handspun yarns...), but not a lot of shaping. There are no patterns with colorwork, which is just fine and dandy with me since fair isle and intarsia aren't nearly as appealing to me as a bunch of knotty cables. None of the sweaters are close-fitting, and many are unisex with boxy shaping. I'm on the small side, so any sweater I would make from this book would be rather loose on me. I'm not sure that's what looks best for me, but they're all so gorgeous and look so comfy that I don't care. These are sweaters that are timeless instead of trendy, and could last a lifetime or more if properly cared for. Isn't that what you would want with yarn you worked so hard to make yourself?
Designer Post: Fine Kettle
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