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A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns Hardcover – 2008
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It is clear that Lloyd is conducting a love affair with Aran designs (those wonderfully cabled knits from Ireland) as well as with the concept of blending the best of classic design with contemporary sensibilities. What does that mean? It means a judicious use of cables and twists with body-skimming shapes. Moreover, she figures out how to fashion each of the 26 patterns in hand-spun and in commercial yarns, presented beautifully in photographs and detailed instructions. For those unfamiliar with sheep breeds and “outputs,” there is a primer on hand spinning, selecting appropriate yarns, and other topics. The patterns present skill level (with clear definitions), measurements, gauge, materials, step-by-step how-to’s, and, of course, photographs and graphs, whenever appropriate. Dream of these names—Espresso, Le Smoking, October Frost, Gaelic Mist—then begin stocking, er, stitching up. --Barbara Jacobs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Lisa Lloyd specializes in traditional knitting and classic looks. She custom-designs yarns, and her knitting patterns have been published by Harrisville Designs, Interweave Knits magazine, and Wild Fibers magazine. Visit her online at www.afinefleece.com. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The patterns included are *fabulous*. Beyond fabulous. They're rich and intricate and have a nice mix between smaller things and to-die-for sweaters. The photography is amazing and inspiring, and for a closer look at each garment, there are diagrams and stitch charts provided for every wearable. (One of the previous reviewers commented that the photos weren't clear -- not all of them, no. But the charts make up for that, plus some. And the photos are inspirational, so it's all good with me.)
Each pattern gives you not just the required amount/wpi of the handspun yarn needed, but also gives a commercially-spun equivelent AND shows the knitted item in BOTH variations (hand/commercially-spun), so you can see how the handspun aspect changes the nature of the fabric (if it does)...it's an amazing extra that the author gives us.
Speaking of extras -- the sizing on these patterns ROCK. Being one of the Large Chest Brigade, it's often hard to find books that go beyond the 32 - 34 - 38 sizing for miniature people and get into the sizes more realistic for my...uh...front additions. Not a problem here. I think the smallest size I've seen has been 48", and that RULES. I loved the author just a little bit more than I did before after noticing that little (big?) detail.
I've been paring down my Stuff lately. Getting rid of a lot of the extraneous posessions I've been hoarding. Knitting books are included in that. And I can say, without even a hint of hesitation, that this book would be one of the five I'd keep, no matter what. It's got EVERYTHING I look for in a knitting book, plus one. I'm so glad I picked it up, and I can't wait to start knitting a wardrobe-full of handspun, handknit sweaters just for me.
The photographs, however, which should clearly illustrate the stitches and techniques, are in such soft focus that they are almost useless for that purpose. In some instances, the entire project is fuzzy because the photographer has focused on a prop instead of the sweater. Are the photos pretty? Yes, very pretty. Are they helpful? Absolutely not. I checked the photographer's Web site and found that she is known for photos with a shallow depth of field. I think the book designer or publisher should have looked into this before selecting her.
The designer made another choice that reduces the value of the book to spinners -- the primary customer base. There are no photos of the handspun yarn used in each project. The reader must deduce what the yarn is like from the brief description.
Am I still happy that I purchased the book? Yes. But it would have been so much better had the designer or publisher made different choices.
The supposed point of this book is to provide a library of patterns appropriate for handspun yard. The author has photographs of each pattern knit in at least two yarns, one handspun and one factory-made. The subtitle is "knitting with handspun yarns." I guess there are so many knitting books on the market, everyone needs some kind of unique hook. I thought this part of the book book was a bit silly.
However, the patterns are almost universally interesting and knittable. Many of the patterns are cabled, so if you're a fan of Aran knitting you'll enjoy this book. In fact, this is the best book of Aran / cabled style knits I've seen in a good while.
The book is a pleasure to flip through and has great patterns. If the handspun angle interest you, all the better, but the book is great based solely on the great cabled patterns.
I've only knit sock patterns so far, but they were easy enough to follow for someone familiar with knitting patterns. If you haven't knit before, this isn't a great book to start with.