knitting, reading

11. Adventures in Yarn Farming

I suspect that everyone who does fiber stuff at some point daydreams about having a sheep farm of their own. I was effectively vaccinated against this desire by reading a lot of James Herriot as a youngling–the cover has fallen off my copy of All Things Bright and Beautiful–but even I occasionally wonder how it would be. This book is designed for that audience: people who know something about yarn, but not a ton about where it comes from.

It isn’t a manual on livestock care, or a how-to-craft guide, but a sort of lively small-scale memoir with admixtures. Think Animal, Vegetable, Miracle with fewer pretensions, maybe. Ms. Parry’s farm is a business, and she makes no bones about how things like the summer’s hay yield factor into her herd’s management, and how critical it is to keep track of each individual sheep’s lineage and wool characteristics, and the earthier aspects of animal care.

The book is handsomely made, feels lovely in the hands, and is beautifully illustrated (although the photos are, frustratingly, not captioned). As a bonus, while it guides you through the yearly round of a sheep farmer’s life in Western Massachusetts, it provides detailed instructions for a number of dyeing and knitting projects that are, alas, well beyond my skill level.

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I borrowed this book from a friend who picked it up at the Boston Farm & Fiber Festival a couple years back. (I believe I bought some yarn from the author, which I also believe is still in my stash somewhere. As one does.) It’s a nice one to curl up with of an evening and lazily turn a few pages, day-dreaming of a pastoral life in between vignettes and doses of hard-earned sheep knowledge.

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