Today were excited to share with you our favorite books for fiber artists! Nothing comes close to hands-on experience and in-person instruction, but having information available at your finger tips (without having to wait for a class) is more than necessary for artists. You may not always be able to call up an expert, but you can flip through their book and find exactly what you want to know. It’s even better than an internet search, as you won’t have to sift through irrelevant webpages before you find what you’re looking for.
Here at The Tin Thimble, we stock books that we use ourselves. If it’s on our shelves, then our resident artists have used it and loved it. We stand by these guides, and would like to share them with you. Below are summaries, photos, and reviews of the books that we currently carry. We consider these books to be essential for fiber artists, and hope that you will get to read them and learn from them.
The Books Every Fiber Artist Needs: Part 1
Dozens of techniques from fulling and shaping to nuno and cobweb. Includes 46 creative projects.
By Christine White
Our description: We aren’t kidding when we call this our Bible. This book is fantastic for beginners, but even experienced felters will learn something from the comprehensive chapters that walk you through the felting process. It will show you what do at every step of the way, from what fibers and soaps will work, to what your perfect studio should have. Not only that, but the 46 projects include thorough instructions and photos to make your felted piece a success. Available in our B & M store, as well as in our Etsy shop!
Official Description: In Uniquely Felt, Christine White, a professional teacher and feltmaker, gathers her considerable knowledge of the craft to write the comprehensive guide to all things felt. She describes the equipment, explores concepts and theories of felting, and thoroughly covers all felting techniques, including traditional, needle, three-dimensional seamless, nuno, cobweb, carved, and Beede ball.
And then there are the projects — handsome, indestructible bags; nuno shawls that marry soft wool fibers and wispy silks; bright picnic blankets and plush bath mats; lacy curtains made with impossibly sheer cobweb felt. Every project is striking in its fabulous depth of color and purity of form. There are no stitches, no seams, and no signs of woven cloth — just a wonderful, flowing piece of textile art.
The basic steps of feltmaking are simple enough to learn in an afternoon, but the infinite possibilities in every new pile of fiber keep enthusiasts fascinated for a lifetime. The process always begins the same way, but the fibers make the felting journey unique every time. This book is the ultimate guide to that magical adventure.
Amazon review: “With a growing number of felting books out there, this is the book that you will continue to use long after you learn the basic technique! Chris White manages to give you all the basic history and technical “hows” and “whys” in a way that is easy to understand along with lots of fabulous color visuals. She then follows up with a variety of techniques (including nunofelting and cobweb felt!) and 46 projects. Every time I pick it up I find another bit of information either on types of wool or appropriate tools for specific projects or just words of advice from Chris’s ample well of knowledge. A well rounded book presented in a very user friendly format! A winner, for certain.” – Felting in Canada
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook
More Than 200 Fibers, From Animal to Spun Yarn
by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius
Our description: This information-dense book is thick enough to be a weapon, but even those who don’t have an interest in fiber won’t be bored while flipping through its pages. The book covers over two hundred animal fibers, including not only more breeds of sheep than you may have realized were out there, but also goats, alpacas, rabbits, camels, bison, musk oxen, yaks, and more! No fiber artist’s library is complete without this extensive guide.
Official Description: This one-of-a-kind photographic encyclopedia features more than 200 animals and the fibers they produce. It covers almost every sheep breed in the world ― from the longwool breeds of the United Kingdom to the Tasmanian merino, the Navajo churro, the northern European Faroese, and dozens and dozens more. It also includes goats, camelids (such as alpacas, llamas, and vicunas), bison, horses, musk oxen, rabbits, and even dogs.
Each entry includes photographs of the featured animal; samples of its raw fleece, its cleaned fleece, and yarn spun from the fleece; and samples of the yarn knit and woven. You’ll find everything you want to know about each animal and its fiber, including the fiber’s color, density, strength, and staple length, and recommendations for processing and using it. This is the essential reference no fiber-lover can be without.
Amazon review: “This book (a true sourcebook) is like the Who’s Who of the sheep world. It’s exhaustive and chock-full of huge amounts of research. This not only includes the list of over 200 different breeds, families, groups (along with non-sheep species), but … Photos! Stories! Songs! Legends! Charts! Maps! If there’s a story behind a breed, pertinent facts about the geography, a farmer who dedicated his life to raising them, a legend about their origin, it’s in here. And did I mention the photos? Oh, the photos! Not only pictures of the sheep (in the fields as well as properly posed “show” pics), but of the fleece-both clean and raw-yarn spun from it, swatches knitted and woven from it. So many beautiful photos. This book is full of true eye candy for a sheep lover.” – D. Boykin
The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning
“The Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose”
by Beth Smith
Our description: This book is an incredible resource for anyone interested in working with fleece, or anyone who would like to branch out to different breeds for their projects. Beth gives marvelous advice on finding, selecting, and buying your fleeces, no matter what kind you’re looking for. As for her breed-by-breed sections, they are packed with valuable information specific to these breeds. Never wonder what kind of fiber to use for your projects again!
The book is written in a cheerful, casual, but highly informative tone that’s a pleasure to read.
Official Description: As spinners, knitters, and weavers know, the characteristics of fleece — its structure, grease content, and fiber diameter — vary widely depending on the breed of sheep the fleece comes from. These factors are crucial when you’re deciding how to spin your fleece and use your finished yarn. In this comprehensive reference, Beth Smith presents a thorough overview of 21 sheep breeds, including each breed’s characteristics and history, a photo of the animal and its locks, the best methods for washing its fleece, and specific techniques for preparing, spinning, and finishing the fleece. You’ll discover how to select the fleece that is best for your project and how to spin exactly the yarn you need.
Amazon review: “This is the best book I have seen so far on wool preparation for spinning. The explanations of how to skirt, wash, and further process a fleece for spinning are very detailed, with many good photos, and easy to follow. It shows a good explanation for the relationship between crimp and twist required to hold the yarn together. For a hand spinner intending to buy and process her/his first fleece the book is invaluable. For those who already have processed a few fleeces, it is full of new ideas and useful hints. I very much wished this book had been on the market, when I started processing my first fleeces. It would have saved me tons of mistakes.” – Angelika
All of these wonderful resources are available in the shop. Come visit us and let us know what you think! Leave a comment about you’re experiences with these books, and what titles we should include in part 2!