I was not expecting a memoir about a bale of wool, but it turns out the bale is the perfect vehicle to explore the American wool landscape and its future. Parkes’ writing allows the newbie to jump in feet first, while at the same time provides a homey return for those familiar with the lifestyle (from shearing to spinning to knitting). This is a love letter to wool, to the process and the people involved, and to the joy of being able to play with it to create something new.
A fast-paced account of the year Clara Parkes spent transforming a 676-pound bale of fleece into saleable yarn, and the people and vanishing industry she discovered along the way
Join Clara Parkes on a cross-country adventure and meet a cast of characters that includes the shepherds, dyers, and countless workers without whom our knitting needles would be empty, our mills idle, and our feet woefully cold. Travel the country with her as she meets a flock of Saxon Merino sheep in upstate New York, tours a scouring plant in Texas, visits a steamy Maine dyehouse, helps sort freshly shorn wool on a working farm, and learns how wool fleece is measured, baled, shipped, and turned into skeins.
In pursuit of the perfect yarn, Parkes describes a brush with the dangers of opening a bale (they can explode), and her adventures from Maine to Wisconsin (“the most knitterly state”) and back again; along the way, she presents a behind-the-scenes look at the spinners, scourers, genius inventors, and crazy-complex mill machines that populate the yarn-making industry. By the end of the book, you’ll be ready to set aside the backyard chickens and add a flock of sheep instead. Simply put, no other book exists that explores American culture through the lens of wool.
About the Author
Author of six books, including the New York Times bestselling Knitlandia, Clara Parkes has dedicated her life to figuring out what makes yarn tick—and finding the right words to write about it. Through her writings, workshops, and appearances, Clara champions the notion of paying closer attention to what you knit and where it came from. She lives in Portland, Maine.
"Given my hatred of puns, I absolutely do not want to say Clara Parkes spins an incredible yarn, but how else to describe this incredible book? Parkes is the Marc Kurlansky of wool!"
— John Hodgman
“While I laughed and loved Clara's prose, I was left with so much more. It's actually a lovely and melancholy look at an American industry that's quickly changing, and a beautiful story of the people who are sacrificing to maintain it."
— Judy Greer
“Long before social media cluttered every corner of our existence, Parkes’s conversational 411 about new yarns and interesting pattern designs forged connections among far-flung knitters, who discovered they were a global community rather than lone practitioners of a cozy hobby they’d learned from Mom.”
— Kathy Blumenstock
“Quite possibly the only writer you will ever read who can make a discussion of micron counts absolutely riveting.”