Don’t you just love it when you find something very useful that is unavailable in mainstream shopping experiences? One of those thrift shop treasures that becomes one of your favorite things? Or an out-of-print book that is just what you needed? We had one of those this week and are so thrilled!
Ever since we purchased our sheep in the summer of 2013 we have been searching for a book about dealing with wool from sheep all the way to yarn. Something with step-by-step details on how to do each process, as well as details about the different options for each part of the processes. We have searched and searched and not been able to find what we are looking for. We couldn’t even really find a good blog series on it. We found pieces and parts of the process on blogs, online videos, and books, but never exactly what we wanted – which was the full process start to finish.
I have been surfing Etsy the last couple of weeks for some different Christmas ideas and somehow stumbled on this book. I knew the second I saw it that we HAD to get it and I snatched it up as quick as I could before it was gone. It was being sold for a library fundraiser, and in searching after I purchased it I found that it is indeed a rare book. I was only able to find one available anywhere online and it is priced at $50 – WAY more than we paid for ours.
The book is called “Wool Fibers” by Diane Betts and was printed in 1995. It is dedicated to “…all of those who care about the land, the sheep, and the grades and qualities of our wool.”
This books starts with a little bit of history of wool fibers and production. Then it goes into detail about selective breeding and managing sheep to produce desirable grades and qualities in the fleeces and the steps to shear a sheep and skirt a fleece. It gives great detail on how to assess a fleece in every way possible, including the staple length, strength, and color and luster, including step by step tests to do on the fiber.
The last half of the book focuses on fiber preparations and yarns. It teaches all the details involved in processing a fleece into yarn, and has many example drawings. It goes into details about all the different methods for cleaning, carding, and spinning wool. Including how to spin and ply all different sorts of yarn. And, of course, finishing techniques. As if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of references to other books on the various topics that we will look forward to looking into in the future.
We are SO excited about this book. It will definitely become a very important part of our homestead library, and a treasured secondhand find.