Clara Parkes believes that every one of us has somewhere inside a yarn whisperer, an innate part of ourselves that can listen to a ball or skein of yarn and discover what it wants to be.
She believes that through education and practice, knitters can hone their yarn whispering skills and, through some basic detective work, understand what a yarn is going to look like knit up and how it is going to wear before they even knit a stitch.
Her book The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn aims to help knitters learn the skills they need to make the best yarn choices.
A Fiber Education
Parkes begins with an overview of the basic types of yarn: protein fibers (like wool and silk), cellulose fibers (cotton, hemp), cellulosic fibers (rayon, soy) and synthetic fibers (acrylic, nylon). She describes how each type of yarn is made, what its general characteristics are and what you can expect when knitting with a particular fiber.
She goes on to talk about how yarn is made in general, looking at mills, farm yarns, fiber festivals, organics, adding color to yarn and how fiber is prepared for spinning into yarn.
The book then looks at different types of yarn in terms of how the yarn is put together, whether single or multi-plied, and special textured yarns like boulce, chenille, brushed yarns and thick-and-thin yarns.
You're likely to come across terminology that you're not familiar with, even if you are a relatively experienced knitter. Though yarn is the basic raw material of our work, a lot of knitters don't take the time to learn what goes into making a good yarn, thus they end up having knitting disasters that can be attributed to choosing the wrong yarn for a project. This book aims to eliminate that problem through education and showing readers ways to use some of the most common yarn types out there.
In addition to being a wonderful reference book about the types and behaviors of yarn, the book also includes 40 patterns scattered throughout the section on different types of yarn.
There are mitts, a hat and a bolero knit of single-ply yarn, shawls, scarves, cardigans and socks knit in two-ply, another hat, mitts, cardigan and socks in three-ply, and tops, cat toys and a baby blanket in four-ply or more yarns, to name just a few of the patterns.
Some of the patterns are very simple, while others use more complex techniques. Patterns were designed by notables such as Norah Gaughan, Cat Bordhi and Teva Durham, among others, and all show off the chosen yarns beautifully.
This book gives knitters a good idea of the magic that happens when the perfect yarn is paired with the perfect project. While this book won't turn you into an immediate master of the yarn universe, it will give you the confidence and skills you need to make the right decisions when it comes to pairing yarn and projects.
Publication date: October 2007.