Book Review: The Knitter’s Book of Wool by Clara Parkes

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Book Review: The Knitter’s Book of Wool by Clara Parkes Bow

[A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review].

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I have long loved yarn in all its various forms, but a recent step into spinning has got me thinking more deeply about the raw material that turns into that object of desire. To learn to spin is to learn about fiber, and this book is a wonderful reference about that most wonderful fiber: wool.

The first two chapters introduce the main character and describe its transformation in yarn; however, as a new spinner, I’m most excited by Chapter Three. The third chapter provides profiles of the fiber from 37 different sheep breeds along with essential stats like fineness, staple length, and crimp, and color pictures of washed, unspun locks. What a great resource! As someone who has recently been buying fiber more often than yarn, this is information I really appreciate. Adding to overall usefulness quotient, there’s a chapter devoted to wool blends, articles on washing wool and moth control, and really too much more to list.

And, if all that information weren’t enough, there is a chapter of patterns for hats, socks, shawls, and more. There are some good, basic patterns as well as some stand-outs for me, like the Lillia Hyrna Shawl and the Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole [designed by new Portlandite and Twisted employee, Sivia Harding].

I believe I will refer to this book often as my love of knitting morphs into an obsession with spinning.

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Still can’t find the camera…

Check this post Still can’t find the camera… from …MonkeyKnits… A Knitting Blog:

But I guess that doesn’t mean I can’t post, huh? We are officially moved in, although we still have boxes to unpack. So far we haven’t had any nasty surprises. We love the new house, and we’re settling in just fine. I’ll post photos if I ever find the camera(s).

See cshmere yarns at

In the meantime, how about a book review?


The lovely folks at the Penguin Group sent me this book to review — “Wacky Baby Knits.” The book contains “20 knitted designs for the fashion-conscious toddler.” I don’t have any photos of the contents, but you can see more and download some of the patterns online here.

The book includes a short “how-to” section for new knitters. The pictures are easy to follow, and I think it would be helpful for the brand new knitter. Then we have hats, mittens, jackets and outfits just to name a few. My favorite section is the hat section. I especially love the Mohawk hat and the Flying Helmet.

The wacky little outfits are really over the top. There’s a cow, a frog and a pirate suit (sounds like the opening line of a joke, huh?). There’s also a crazy robot suit, a biker jacket and a tutu. All of these would make super cute Halloween outfits.

All in all, it’s a super cute book with options for anyone. The Flying Helmet hat would make a great baby shower gift, while the frog outfit would make a great toddler costume. Check out this book on Amazon today!

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Plans. Best. Laid. All that

Check this post Plans. Best. Laid. All that from Yarn Harlot:

January 29, 2010

A little while ago, I put together my own sock club.  I still belong to a sock club, but I wanted to make a point of burning through some of the stash and finally getting to a few patterns I’ve been thinking about for a while.  Thing is, stuff slips off the radar.  I get the yarn or the patterns and I think I’m going to get to it soon, but really knitting is sort of slow, and by the time I’m free to start something again, whatever that cool pattern and yarn were has sort of slipped through the cracks, down past the canopy of the stash and the next thing you know I’ve forgotten I’d ever wanted to knit and and been seduced by whatever came along in the meantime.  This year I took my own advice and I made kits.

I got 12 big ziplocks, and in each one I put everything I need to make those socks.  If the pattern was in a book I photocopied it, if it was a download I printed it, if if was a pattern I had to buy, I bought it. Then I went through the stash and figured out what should go with what – then I sealed up all 12 and put them away on a shelf in my office cupboard, promising myself that I would knit one pair a month, drawn at random.  Some men’s socks, some ladies, some lace, some cable… at the end of the year I’d have 12 pairs of socks (at least) and have made a serious dent in my sock needs.

A couple of days ago I realized that I was in serious danger of blowing the system the very first month out, and so I went into the cupboard and pulled a bag at random. (The astute among you will notice that post furnace installation I got a new cupboard in my office.  It was the tradeoff for the space I lost because I gained a heating duct in that room.  Heat is nice and all, but mama’s got a lot of yarn. That’s my sock club on the top shelf. Nice, huh?)  I snagged one from the middle without looking.  I got a skein of Handkraft “The sock who loved me” in  Mangrove, which was paired with the pattern for the Sleepy Hollow socks.

No problem, I thought those will be quick to finish by the end of the month.  Now, me being me and the universe being what it is, I totally should have seen it coming the minute I thought that, but I still haven’t gotten used to the way that my knitting ability can come and go at a moments notice.

I started down the leg, all seemed well.  Then I got to the gusset increases and the next thing I knew I was knitting like a rookie, and by a rookie, I mean that I wasn’t knitting badly, I was knitting like someone who hadn’t learned some stuff about knitting the hard way about a thousand times.  See – a rookie doesn’t know that it’s really hard to go purl to purl on dpns without  having a wicked ladder (at least if you’re me.) A rookie wouldn’t know to slide that bad boy over to the other needle to avoid that crap.  A rookie might think “hey man, I know what a m1p is.  I don’t need to look at the stitch legend.”

Then a rookie would be wrong – a rookie would look at that gusset and learn his lesson, and then the rookie would knit better next time.  Me?  Not a rookie. Knew all this- knit badly anyway, and it was totally preventable.  After 36 years of knitting I’m going to go public and tell you what I think is the #1 cause of knitted crap.

Failure to read.

Seriously.  The instructions were right there, they are correct, they are clear, there is nothing wrong with them and the only thing that gave me that totally crappy gusset is that I did not read. It is my fault, and I have no-one to blame because I didn’t read.  I had a little pout and a beer, then I took my lumps, ripped it back and started again from the top of the gussets/heel and carried on. This went reasonably well until I tried it on.  Bad news.  Should have read the sizing information- that’s there too. Ripped the entire sock back, tried again.   I thought I had this beast going on until I finished the whole gusset and heel and thought that was pretty funny lookin’ too.  Didn’t look like the picture.  I carried on a bit, starting to decrease the stitches and realized I didn’t have the right number of stitches, and as I re-checked the pattern, I realized that I’d read the first line of the heel turn, recognized the techniques, assumed I knew what I was doing and carried on.
Not so much.  The heel actually departs from what I was expecting about halfway through.  Thus – the heel is wrong.  Again. Failure to read. Again. It’s going to be a stretch to finish these socks by the end of the month (considering that there is only 2 days left in the month.) I’m going to have to do one of three  things.  Knit faster,  get smarter or READ.  (That third option seems easiest.)

(PS.  Thought I’d let you know,  Sock Camp opens to the general public today, now that the club members have signed up.  Also – an aside to Tina.  What are you doing? Hoarding bad pictures of me? )

Posted by Stephanie at January 29, 2010 2:46 PM

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Characteristics of Cashmere wool

The finest Cashmere goats are animals with characteristics very different from each other.

For example, we can say that the cashmere fiber produced can be very different, depending on the age of the animal: the younger, the higher the fineness. Another aspect that varies is the color of cashmere, from cream to gray, the brown to black. All this is because up to now have not yet been made selections based on genetics.

We are just at the beginning of this type of selection, and in fact such a practice has just begun at the European farmers, U.S. and Australia. For now, the selection of the goats is made on the basis of a particular characteristic: resistance to cold down to a temperature exaggerated for humans but not for the Capra hircus: less than 30 ° C. To reach these temperatures and produce, therefore, a high-quality cashmere fiber, the animal must necessarily have a strong and resilient fleece, but above all it must have a dense undercoat and very hot: The most subtle and end that we already know, and called “duvet”.

Probably, if in the future will be conducted genetic selections or even genetic manipulation of animals that produce this precious wool, perhaps one that will already see in other fields of agriculture and livestock, which exponentially increase the productive capacity of farms, but at the same time will produce a significant reduction in both the selling price of the same quality of wool produced. For now however, must benefit from the current standard of quality cashmere.

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What is Cashmere?

Kashmir is first the name of a province of India. Cashmere, or cashmere, is a textile fiber made with the fur hircus goat, which takes its name from the region of origin of the animal that produces it.

Hircus goat wool is very soft and silky to the touch and also smooth, which gives even more value, and gives him a feeling warm and soft, protecting effectively by changes in temperature, thanks to the “duvet“, that the sottomantello more subtle, like a hair that naturally has just that purpose, and serves to protect the goat from the temperature by adjusting heat his body .

The goats live in mountainous regions and highlands of Asia. Today, only small amounts are not material cashmere fiber produced by the Indian province of Kashmir.

Other producing countries are mainly China, Iran, Mongolia and Afghanistan. The climatic conditions of extreme changes in temperature between day and night in these areas, encourage the development of hair called just duvet. This fluff has the peculiarity of exception, like all animal fibers (but this more than anything else) to thermo-regulate the animal’s body in relation to the external environment, protecting both the low or high temperatures.

The region of Kashmir, which as we have said is a province in India, the export wool cashmere in Europe since the beginning of 1800.

While the thinner end of the down duvet sottomantello and is called, that is, the lower layer soft and woolly, the thickest part comes with the hair stiff and coarse outer coat is called jars. To pick it up, make a manual combing the coat during the season of the suit, which occurs in the spring. Production per animal may be on average between 100 and 200 grams of fine hair.

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What can be produced by the Cashmere

So far there has been talk of wool, that is the raw material, and its generic characteristics. Now we want to see what can be produced with this raw material. Things are really many. From knitting accessories (such as scarves). The cashmere gives a very special feeling to the touch and pleasing. Needless to mention the proverbial softness.

However, leaders so special and enjoyable to wear, they also need special care. We must have as its objective the duration of these animals, since they cost a bit ‘more than the traditional leaders, and the best way to stretch the cashmere garments, is to treat them with care, or more precisely with the “right” care .

For example, washing a knitted cashmere quality and must be done by hand in cold water, and water must have a temperature below 30 degrees. Use a mild soap, and leaves no residue.

It should be rinsed very well, pressing lightly, and if you should spin in the washing machine, you must first put their heads in cashmere in a laundry bag or other container, if necessary a pillowcase pillow, and only then can spin .

If they are guilty should try to remove stains as quickly as possible to soak at least 10 minutes and then gently rubbing the stain, without “shock” the fabric. Drying is then a “rite” important. Woe to expose leaders to direct heat. If you extend a chief (mesh or other), do not pull anything, but place it gently on a rack so as not to force its form.

If you wish to iron your shirt, cashmere, remember that you do not have to lean over the iron, but you can simply supply a jet of steam on the mesh itself, and then let it cool thoroughly before folding it.

Another tip: between uses another of your garments in cashmere, keep them still at least a day, this will increase the length and allow the “wrinkles” and regroup crease without having to do more. Put your head always in a place that is cool and dry, so after this season will be ready to face a period of time (obviously the summer).

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