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The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn Hardcover – June 1, 2011

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Frequently Bought Together

The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn + The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers + The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs: Techniques for Creating 80 Yarns
Price for all three: $56.27

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; First Edition edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603427112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603427111
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 1.3 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Every once in a while there is a book that lives up to it’s hype. Only once in a blue moon are we lucky enough to get a book that surpasses all the stories that have led up to it. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is a blue moon book. The spinning world has been buzzing about this book for years, and Deb Robson has been kind enough to share writing the process on her blog, but that still didn’t prepare me for the completeness of the book.

The sheer complexity of the subject made clear, useful and not just interesting, but fascinating. More than 200 animal fibers and breeds laid out and dissected by an animal expert and a spinning expert jump off of the page in concise prose that speaks to the history of the breed; fleece, fiber and lock characteristics; using the fiber in dyeing, spinning, knitting and weaving. The photography is crisp enough to count crimps and shows fiber as washed and unwashed; prepped and spun, and sometimes knit or woven. The authors manage to do all of this using 2-4 pages per breed.

Spinners (and knitters) this is the book you’ve been asking for: more photos and breeds than In Sheep’s Clothing and more sheepy and animal goodness than The Knitter's Book of Wool.  A labor of sheepy love and a stellar book."
(Library Journal)

This is an excellent resource for fiber artists curious about different types of animal fibers and how best to use them.
(Vogue Knitting)

Two experts, one a farmer and livestock guru, the other a fiber magazine editor, join brains to produce this resource for yarn crafters. Far from drab and dreary, Robson and Ekarius enliven the pictures and descriptions of about 200 breeds of sheep, inserting critical information and fun facts. Well written and researched, a reference for all ages.
Starred review

Not only is this a library essential for yarn users who take their wool, alpaca, llama, cashmere and yak seriously; it’s also an important text for those involved in the husbandry of our four-legged fiber friends. If we want to preserve our “heirloom” fibers, we need to know their names.
(Interweave Knits)

A reference you'll return to again and again as you grow as a fiber artist.

A comprehensive manual for the wool aficionado. Packed with photos and detailed fiber properties, it covers every breed of sheep you are likely to encounter and then some.

About the Author

Carol Ekarius is the co-author of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook and the author of several books, including Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep (with Paula Simmons), Small-Scale Livestock Farming, Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds, and  Storey’s Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle, and Pigs. She lives in the mountains of Colorado where her four-legged and winged family keeps her busy. 

Deborah Robson is co-author of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook and Knitting in the Old Way. She is a former editor of both Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot and Spin-Off magazine, and she is currently the editor and publisher of Nomad Press, which publishes books on traditional and ethnic knitting and spinning. Robson is also an artist, working in textiles, printmaking, and oils. She lives in Colorado with her daughter.

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Customer Reviews

Very informative, great pictures, and easy to use.
Tina Kuklenski
This is THE book about sheep breeds, other fiber animals, and their fibers.
This book is a great resource for spinners and fiber enthusiasts.
Karen Meek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Sue Weaver on May 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Since I'm writing a sheep book (The Backyard Sheep) for Storey Publishing, Storey graciously sent me a PDF of the sheep section of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. It's so beyond fantastic that I don't know what to say except WOW.

The British Wool Board's British Sheep and Wool was my wish book until now, but this book goes way, way, way beyond that. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is 448 lavishly color-illustrated pages simply jam-packed with information. Every breed of sheep you can possibly think of (and more) is covered, along with goats, rabbits, horses, camelids, bison, yaks, musk oxen, dogs and cats, and even wild animals such as wolves.

Each breed section incorporates wonderful color pictures of the breed in question, of raw and washed staples of its wool (in several colors, where applicable), and of several types of yarn spun from its fiber along with information about the tools used in its creation. Breed sections range from two to ten pages; Shetland people, you are going to love the Shetland section!

As I write this I'm reviewing the three-page section about Rough Fells, a breed I would keep if they were available in North America. Material includes a comprehensive description of Rough Fells illustrated by a gorgeous picture of a group of five sheep (love those guys!), a big color picture of Rough Fell staples and yarn, and a page with "Rough Fell Facts" (fleece weight, staple length, fiber diameter, lock characteristics, and natural colors) along with a half page write-up on "Using Rough Fell Fiber" including dying, fiber preparation and spinning tips, and knitting, crocheting, and weaving.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By pae on January 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The 2 star rating applies only to the Kindle version; the printed version deserves a 10!
This is an outstanding piece of research and compilation of over 200 fiber producing animals whose fiber is available to the fiber arts community. The authors have provided descriptions, history and photos of the animals, and photos of the raw and cleaned fiber, colors, yarns, and knitted and woven swatches. Special note is made of breeds that are rare and endangered, allowing fiber users the opportunity to choose fiber and thus support the farmers who breed these animals. Potential uses of each fiber are also mentioned. All that's missing is the actual fiber sample, which is not doable in a work of this magnitude at a price anyone could afford. It's amazing that the authors were able to acquire samples of so many different fibers that they could work with and evaluate themselves.

This book is an essential reference for anyone using animal fibers for any purpose. Breeds and species represented cover most of the world, though some sheep and goats specific to some parts of Asia and Africa are not included. Better known fiber animals from the Americas and Europe are discussed and described. It's not likely that fiber from the animals omitted would be available to many spinners, knitters and weavers in Western countries.

The photos in the book are superb, but unfortunately the photos in the Kindle edition are mostly low resolution and poor quality, especially the fiber and yarn photos. They're very small, and the labels on fiber and yarns in the Kindle version are not even readable in many cases, a real shame given the work that went into them and the valuable information they provide.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By D. Boyken on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book-a true sourcebook-is like the Who's Who of the sheep world. It's exhaustive and chock-full of huge amounts of research. This not only includes the list of over 200 different breeds, families, groups (along with non-sheep species), but ... Photos! Stories! Songs! Legends! Charts! Maps! If there's a story behind a breed, pertinent facts about the geography, a farmer who dedicated his life to raising them, a legend about their origin, it's in here. And did I mention the photos? Oh, the photos! Not only pictures of the sheep (in the fields as well as properly posed "show" pics), but of the fleece-both clean and raw-yarn spun from it, swatches knitted and woven from it. So many beautiful photos. This book is full of true eye candy for a sheep lover.

I was prepared to be impressed by this book. Just knowing the amount of work that went into it, I was ready to like it. (How much work? Just for starters, the bibliography is five pages long. The index ix nine pages.) But "like" is too mild a word. I was floored by how exceptional this book is. Though it's true-there are no patterns in this book. There are no instructions on spinning. No step-by-step guides on how to prepare a fleece for spinning. There are plenty of books that do those things. But this? This is a love letter to sheep, to wool, and to the history of human beings and natural fiber.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Hubbard on June 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Fleece and Fiber Source Book is everything I had hoped for and more. The information is so complete! No matter what your interest in the fiber world, this book has something to teach you. Starting with the cellular make-up of different fibers, archeological facts, the specifics of breeds, and the photographs are beautiful. As a spinner, knitter, weaver, and dyer this is a book I will reference again & again. It has become the star of my (quite large) collection of fiber books. No matter what area of fiber use you prefer or what your level of accomplishment, this book is a treasure and a bargain. I have paid much more for much less.
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