Furthering My Education

Pure Wool: A Guide to Using Single-Breed Yarns is not a typically beautiful book.

Some books are like girls who are all dressed up for the London season, curled and powdered and full of frills and gorgeous glossy pictures. They sit poised to pounce on any titled gent who attends the ball, and they get their share of the attention.

Sue Blacker’s Pure Wool is like the country lass who stays home, away from the ball, caring for the farm with a strong back and a healthy beauty.

There is nothing glossy about this book, but that is fitting. Wool is not a glittery fiber, it deserves a solid, hearty book.


The images are lovely, but the soul of this book is the rich bounty of information about breeds of yarn – presented in an easily manageable manner – so that even a non-spinner, non-sheep savvy person like myself can feel better educated.

I knit, I design and I write. And I crochet (simmer down..) But I don’t spin. I have serious asthma, and the few times I’ve been around a spinning wheel for an extended period led to a prolonged asthma attack, so I steer clear of flying fibers.

Without the intimate, tactile connection with fleece that my spinning sisters have, I feel as though I’m a piker when talking about different types of sheep. I know the basic facts about different breeds, but I lacked a connection between my knitting and my knowledge.  Pure Wool is a book that I will be using to bridge that gap.

I tend to get overwhelmed with wool “encyclopedias”, or maybe I’m just lazy.  They’re excellent for reference, and I am glad to have all that information at my fingertips, but they don’t speak to me personally as a volume with which to curl up in bed and spend a chilly afternoon.

The information in Pure Wool is presented in a way that makes it clear and complete without being overwhelming.

I especially love the tables in the back of the book allowing a knitter to match a yarn to a pattern, determine which fibers would dye best, and obtaining a better understanding of specific breed’s wool characteristics and yarn qualities.

The patterns are hearty and satisfying, laid out like a kitchen table laden with a huge, delicious country breakfast. I can see the garments in Pure Wool becoming perennial favorites among knitters of all levels, they’re good, basic, beautiful garments.  Nothing flashy, just comfortable.

Like wool.


So would you like a copy of this very useful and very beautiful book?  Leave a comment telling me what your favorite fiber is.  It doesn’t have to be wool – it doesn’t even have to be natural – I’ll make the selection of the winner at random.  If you’ve won lately I’ll pass over your name when drawing the winner, but I’d still love to hear about your favorite fiber!

The images shown on this page are from Sue Blacker’s website.