When I bought The Field Guide to Fleece last week, I thought it would be helpful when I eventually went to a random fiber festival. Or when I was looking up wool and fleeces from indie dyers and farms. I definitely didn’t expect to use it 2 days later at the spinning guild meeting.
At every meeting, the guild holds a raffle for fiber or books or yarn. I spent $3 and split my 6 tickets between some roving and a washed fleece. Didn’t win the fleece but I did get the roving. There was no label, only a few notes on the bag. It was just enough info to find out the roving was the January 2012 shipment of the Australia-based Southern Cross Fiber Club. The colorway, Tequila Sunrise, is beautiful and on a completely new to me wool, Texel.
On a lark, I looked at The Field Guide first instead of searching though a few pages of search results. On page 204, was an entry for the Texel which is originally from the Netherlands and bred mainly for meat. It has a staple length of 3-6” and, while lacking in luster, spins up to make a lofty, air-filled yarn. The fiber is nowhere near soft but good for hardy blankets, pillows, and mats.
The Field Guide to Fleece by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius is a steal at $14.95. It alphabetically details 100 different sheep breeds with photos and clear, detailed information. Everything from breed history and characteristics - staple length, micron count, and fleece weight - as well as how the wool takes dye, its best uses, and how readily the fiber felts. Every entry has a photo of the sheep and a close-up of an individual lock next to a ruler. The book is a wonderful pocket-sized resource that’s worth buying both for new and experienced spinners who need a good, quick resource.