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Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: The Knitter's Book of Yarn

Remember when I said that there were going to be some new things coming along on the blog this year? No? Oh. Well, I kind of mentioned it in passing.

Anyway, aside from monthly yarn reviews, I'm also going to partake in monthly book reviews, specifically books related to knitting or other fibery-related endeavors. The idea is that once a month, usually toward the end of the month (depending on the day), I'm going to post a book review. There's a possibility that two may show up in a month, especially if life gets in the way of my blogging (as it so often does). I have a feeling that the book review I plan to do for February may show up at the beginning of March as we'll be moving at the end of the month...hopefully. But we'll see when that time comes.

With that said, the books in question are books that I have purchased (or someone bought me for a Christmas and/or birthday present) for my own library. I have been given no money or other non-monetary forms of payment for my book reviews. The reviews are based on my own experience(s) and opinion(s) and may not necessarily coincide with the thoughts and opinions of other fiber enthusiasts (though they certainly may).

Yes, that's my disclaimer notice (for now).

Anyway, onward with the book review!

Image from (link to page)

The Basics
Author: Clara Parkes (website, Ravelry page)
Publisher: Potter Craft (October 16, 2007)
Hardcover: 256 pages (this also comes in a Kindle edition)
Language: English
Cover Price: $30 (USD) (though prices vary based on where you purchase from)

Clara Parkes. Where do I even begin with Clara Parkes? She was once a techie out here in San Francisco and left the craziness that is the Bay Area for a quieter life on the East Coast (more specifically, the southern coast of Maine) where she could pursue her love of knitting and fibery things. That was almost fifteen years ago and in those years, she's written three books (including this one), is a frequent contributor to Twist Collective and Yarn Market News, runs her website (noted above), and is on Ravelry. I cannot say that she's the first person to break down yarn like she has (and wool and socks and...), but she's one of the few that actually properly published anything on the subject.

And speaking of the subject.....the book!

Aside from the fact that this book has forty patterns for your knitting pleasure, it's full of a treasure trove of information. Even if you never have a use for some of the finer details, it's still cool information to have.

The book is broken up into four sections: Fiber Foundations, Making Yarn, Ply Me a River, and Putting it all Together. Each section is broken up into...well, they're not chapters exactly. I'm not really sure what to call them...sections, maybe. Each section is broken down into further sections (I guess that's the best word for it).

The first section deals with the different types of fiber. If you're a new knitter, this section can be a bit overwhelming. Even seasoned knitters may find this section overwhelming. I found it overwhelming though it was easy enough to understand. It's just a lot of information...all of it is useful, though.

The second section deals with how fiber gets into yarn form including a section on dyeing, taking care of pilling problems (when you get those little tufts of yarn that resemble little puffballs), fiber festivals...again, lots of information, all of it useful, and a bit overwhelming. This is an area that I, admittedly, skimmed over because I can always look back at it if I need to.

The third section, for me, was the most important section: different plies of yarn. In American terminology (maybe elsewhere but I don't know for sure), "ply" refers to how many mini-strands of yarn are in your strand of yarn. It has nothing to do with actual thickness of yarn. A two-ply yarn could be thicker than a four-ply yarn if the individual plies are different thicknesses. So, ply has nothing to do with actual thickness. One of the nice things about this section is that it gives you projects that work well with each ply of yarn. The patterns can, of course, be adapted to other types of yarn but they may not work out as well.

The last section is kind of a "catch all" section. It talks about washing instructions, care, storage, including specifics about different fiber types. There's a section about determining gauge if you don't have a ball band (wraps per inch - WPI), abbreviations, standard yarn weight system, resources, and other items that are important but just don't fit anywhere else.

I have a love of this book. It explains things so well, if I bother to look them up in the first why Little Man's baby blanket had a little bit of odd stretch to it (single-ply yarn that pulled a little bit - not a lot but enough that I noticed). Also, it's very well-organized and isn't so overly-technical that new knitters will run away screaming into the night. It's kind of like reading a textbook with a sense of humor. Some of the information isn't new (most of my knitting books have a section on washing, care, storage, etc.) but some of it will be extremely helpful (like knowing what a "Mill End" is and if I'm getting a good deal or not).

I don't know that I have any actual complaints about this book other than some of the patterns just aren't "me" but that happens with every knitting book I own that has patterns. Some things are just not for me, and that's perfectly fine.

Soooooo, there you have it. Knitter's Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes. Go out and buy it. You know you want it :)

1 comment:

  1. Great, thorough explanation. I like feeling how I'm getting a complete, honest explanation from you.