No Sheep for You
by Amy R. Singer
Amy Singer, editor and founder of Knitty.com, learned to knit at age six and as she puts it “learned she was allergic to wool soon after.” For many years, knitters allergic to wool were stuck knitting with synthetic substitutes that felt too much like plastic or with cotton which bagged or drooped. With the recent explosion of yarn options, non-wool knitters finally have their day in the sun.
No Sheep for You: knit happy with cotton, silk, linen, hemp, bamboo & other delights explores the fabulous options open to the modern non-wool knitter. With her trademark wit and personal understanding of the subject, Singer introduces knitters to the five “families” of non-wool fibers and their characteristics: bast (flax, hemp, linen); seed (cotton); manufactured fibers from natural materials (rayon, bamboo, corn, seacell®, soy fiber); protein (silk); and synthetic (nylon, lycra, acrylic). Understanding the characteristics of each family, the best needles to use for each, appropriate stitch techniques, and how to wash and block the garments is essential if knitters wish to produce garments they’re happy to wear. Perhaps the most important section is on adapting patterns written for wool to non-wool fibers.
The latter part of No Sheep for You is dedicated to the twenty-one patterns designed for non-wool fibers. The patterns, many from designers familiar to regular readers of Knitty.com, are marked with an icon indicating which fiber family is used for the design. Scattered throughout this section are sidebars full of helpful hints (how to wind slippery yarn on a ball winder, finishing steeks) and useful information (why does yarn pill, why does yarn shrink).
Singer, as befits one of the authors of Big Girl Knits, includes a wide range of sizes in No Sheep for You. Women’s patterns range from a finished chest of 31” to 64” (78.5cm to 162.5cm), averaging 34” to 54” (86.5cm to 137cm). Several patterns are included for men, as well as ones for hats, mitts, wraps, socks and bags.
Whether you are allergic to wool or just looking to expand your knitting repertoire, No Sheep for You is an essential addition to any knitter’s library.
Reviewed by Janelle Martin
Janelle is an addicted reader and a book reviewer for Armchair Interviews. A passionate knitter in what remains of her free time, she wonders, "Why can't we knit at work?". Her blog can be viewed at http://antheras.blogspot.com