First, let me say that as a knitter, I’m sensitive to certain tactile experiencesyou know the kind of thingthe soft halo of a fuzz on a ball of yarn, the smell of lanolin in a coarse, homespun wool, or the different clacking sounds made by metal or wooden needles. Clara’s book, like knitting, is a visceral pleasure. It’s a firm hardback, with a sturdy paper cover (the flies of which will hold your page when you put the book downthis is a book to read), and smooth substantial pages to thumb. It has that crisp, new-book smell. I’m going to enjoy its pristine appearance as long as I can. This book will be well worn in a very short time. Maybe by tomorrow.
Second, I admit to being a weekly reader of Clara’s website knittersreview.com. As a knitter already familiar with Clara’s thorough reviews of current yarns, I know that she writes with intelligence and authority, and that she’s funny, too. If a book on fiber could be serious and entertaining, it would have to be Clara’s. After a few paragraphs, I knew I’d be reading this book into the wee hoursand that long after I’d finished it, I’d be returning to it like an old friend.
The Knitters Book of Yarn is a thorough introductionmore than an introductionto the fibers and structures that make up the yarns we love to knit up. Yarns can make a project (figuratively as well as literally) or break it. Knowledge of how fibers and yarns behave is the first step to a satisfying knitting experience.
Clara begins with fiber basics: protein fibers (from animals), cellulose fibers (plants), cellulosic (read the book to find outI can’t give away everything), and synthetics. She goes on to discuss yarns’ different structureshow the number of plies and the way they’re arranged contribute to the characteristics of a given yarn. She focuses in on what you’re seeing and feeling when you handle a ball of yarn, then she backs up and reports on the larger pictureyarn in the worldorganic yarns, mills and small spinneries, farm yarns, boutique yarns, and more. All this and the book is a page turner, too.
The second part of the book is the pattern section. A wealth of knitted projects that demonstrate happy marriages of yarn and pattern. Each design is written to take advantage of a specific type of yarn and its characteristics. Featured yarn types are single through four-ply types, cabled, texture, boucle, brushed, and chenille yarns. If you have a yarn in your stash that you’ve held onto because you can’t find the perfect pattern for it, this collection of projects will give you a good idea of what to look for.
Where can I buy Clara's book?.
The Princess Mitts pictured here and featured on page 173 of The Knitters Book of Yarn are worked in a single skein of Classic Elite’s Princess, a lush four-ply blend of merino, viscose, nylon, cashmere, and angora. Notice how the smooth, round yarn makes the braided lines of the mitt’s cable pattern pop from the surface. This week’s pattern isn’t a freebie. You'll have to buy Clara’s book to get it. But because I promised to give you a free pattern every week, we’ll make it up to you with two free patterns in an upcoming issue. We love the mitts pictured here so much that we’ll be offering our own version of Princess mitts in the not-too-distant future.