I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Deb Robson about 10 years ago. It mostly came about because I was contacted while she was writing the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook to see if I could provide a few of the samples for the book. At the time I owned the Spinning Loft and was known for having a pretty wide selection of raw fleece.
At the time I wasn’t sure what kind of book she was working on and I had an idea for a spinning book. So, naturally, when I was in Colorado for work I contacted her to see if we could meet for lunch. I loved her immediately. But this post isn’t about that.
What I found out during that lunch was that the book I had in mind was not the same as the book she was working on. As a matter of fact, the book I wanted to write could possibly be the perfect companion book to hers.
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is a masterpiece. So much great information in there that I own 3 copies. I keep one upstairs, one downstairs and one on the shelf so I don’t ruin them all. I also own the electronic version just in case. I find myself going to look things up frequently. If you don’t own a copy and you have any interest in wool then you should definitely get it. And I will be honest, the physical book is much easier to use than the electronic version. I find that is true with most reference books. Deb wrote it along with Carol Ekarius. The way I understand it is that Deb focused on the wool and Carol focused on the other animal fibers.
The book is broken down into sheep families. The families have to do with the sheep’s origins (location and background) There are beautiful pictures of the sheep and great close up photos of the wool as well as yarn and fabric samples for an idea of what things you can make. There is also information about what you can expect from a fleece as far as weight, lock length, fiber diameter and characteristics.
The index of the book is very thorough and useable. I know this from a lot of experience.
The Spinner’s Book of Fleece is not meant to be an encyclopedia of fleece but as I said earlier it is a great companion to The Sourcebook. Instead of showing a billion different wools my purpose was to teach people how to look at a fleece and based on the wool/lock structure make some good decisions about how to scour, process and spin it. And when you make those decisions all of the information you need to scour, process and spin the wool is included.
The Spinner’s Book is set up a bit differently. I break things down into 4 categories and a category I call Other. The categories are based on lock structure. Categorizing in this way makes it easy to look at any fleece, even if the background isn’t clear, such as with some crossbred fleeces, and make some quick decisions on what the fleece would be good for and whether it will work well for your project.
The Other category is really filled with breeds that can be pretty variable. Depending on the fleece it may fit in the Fine Wools category, the Multi Coat category, or the Down type category. Those breeds you have to take on a case by case basis.
So, with the information you find about the wool in Deb’s book combined with the information in my book you can make awesome decisions about the best fleece for your project and end up with the best outcome. This is not a decision of either/or. In my opinion, you need both.
You can buy them either directly from us on our websites, at your local book or yarn store or Amazon.com.