A lot of knitters, when they think about fibers, particularly natural fibers, devote most of their thinking to wool, but there's a whole world beyond wool that's completely worth exploring. That's the message behind Candace Eisner Strick's Beyond Wool: 25 Knitted Projects Using Natural Fibers.
The book covers all the classics like cotton, hemp and linen, as well as luxury fibers like cashmere and qiviut.
All About Fiber
Beyond Wool provides a basic overview of some of the most common (and a few less-so) natural fibers out there, including:
- alpaca and llama
- linen and hemp
Each section includes a few pages on the history of the production of that particular fiber, how it is made, its characteristics and considerations for knitting or designing with it.
Then there is at least one pattern using that yarn (all have three or four, actually, except qiviut, which only has one).
My only real complaint is that for a book that's supposed to be getting knitters beyond wool, eight of the patterns use a yarn with wool in it. Yes, wool blends are great, but not for people who are allergic and who might think that a book called Beyond Wool would actually not include wool.
The 25 patterns in the book are pretty evenly divided among the different kinds of fibers (with the exception of qiviut, as mentioned above) and are mostly for tops and shawls. There are also patterns for mittens and a hat, scarves, wrist warmers, a vest and a bag.
The patterns are all for adult women. The smallest project fits a 29 inch bust (and there's only one of those in the book), while several patterns go up to a 50 inch or slightly larger measurement. Most patterns are in the 38 to 48 range and include at least three sizes.
The patterns are mostly rather traditional looking, with lovely shawls and sweaters for an evening out. I like the Clouds of Purple Shawl, an easy Garter Stitch number in a mohair/silk blend; Llama Cables, a llama/wool sweater with traveling cables on the front; the Smocked Vest, an angora/wool combo with a cute tie closure; and the Sunflower Shell, worked in mercerized cotton, it's the most casual and youthful pattern in the book.
This book could be interesting for people who want to learn a bit more about different kinds of natural fibers and how to use them. It's not as comprehensive as The Knitter's Book of Yarn or as useful to the wool allergic as No Sheep for You, but it does provide some nice patterns and information on the range of natural fibers besides wool.
Publication date: November 2008.