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From Fleece to Fabulous: 4 Great Books on Raising Fiber Animals

by Sarabeth Parido

There's something undeniably charming and wholesome about raising fiber animals. Whether you're an aspiring homesteader, a seasoned shepherd, or simply someone intrigued by the idea of nurturing your own wooly friends, the world of fiber animal husbandry offers a unique blend of tradition, sustainability, and creativity.

These books are not only filled with valuable insights on animal care, but they also delve into the rich history and artistry of fiber crafting. Whether you're looking for practical advice, artistic inspiration, or simply a heartwarming tale of life on the farm, these books have something to offer everyone interested in the world of fiber animals. So, grab your shepherd's crook and let's dive into the world of wool, mohair, and more!

1. Raising Animals for Fiber - Chris McLaughlin

If you've ever wondered which animal or breed might be the perfect fit for your fiber aspirations, this book offers an insightful and comprehensive exploration of all the factors to consider before making that commitment.

McLaughlin's book is a detailed introduction to the world of fiber animals, making it accessible to both newcomers and those interested in the craft of shearing and creating wool products. Her first-hand accounts and wealth of knowledge make her a reliable guide on this exciting journey.

The book excels in providing essential information for anyone considering venturing into animal fiber production. McLaughlin, an experienced fiber farmer herself, meticulously covers the key aspects of raising livestock for wool.

2. The Good Living Guide to Keeping Sheep and Other Fiber Animals - Janet Garman

For the aspiring fiber artist who dreams of self-reliance and creating their own stunning textile creations from scratch, this book is the the ultimate guide. Authored with the wisdom of a seasoned fiber enthusiast, this book leaves no stone unturned as it takes you on an journey from raising fiber animals to marketing your finished products.

This book offers a holistic approach to fiber farming and crafting. From the very beginning, it covers every essential aspect, ensuring that you're well-equipped for the entire process.

With a wealth of practical advice, the author walks you through the intricacies of choosing and caring for your fiber animals. Whether you're considering alpacas, Angora goats, or another breed, you'll find invaluable guidance to make informed decisions.

This guide serves as a beacon of inspiration for those who aspire to be successful in fiber farming. Whether you're a seasoned shepherd looking to expand your horizons or a complete novice with a dream, this comprehensive guide is your trusted companion on the path to fiber artistry and self-reliance. With its wealth of knowledge and step-by-step guidance, it paves the way for a fulfilling and sustainable fiber farming journey.

3. The Spinner's Book of Fleece - Beth Smith

For spinners of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts, this book is an indispensable guide that takes you on a journey through the world of fleece, one sheep at a time. With detailed fleece profiles of 19 distinct breeds and expert insights into various spinning methods, this book empowers you to craft yarns tailored to your creative visions, whether it's delicate lace shawls or rugged outerwear.

The heart of this book lies in its meticulous examination of fleece characteristics. It delves into the intricacies of crimp structure, lock shape, and relative fineness or coarseness, giving you a profound understanding of how these factors influence the quality of your spun yarn. Armed with this knowledge, you'll gain unparalleled control over each step of the spinning process, from selecting the perfect fleece to transforming it into a finished masterpiece.

Whether you're a novice spinner looking to expand your horizons or an experienced hand spinner seeking to refine your craft, the book offers a wealth of practical advice. The instructions on cleaning and processing various fleece types are invaluable, ensuring that you can tackle any fiber with confidence.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of adding this book to your library is its ability to help you choose or recommend the right fleece for each project with precision. This book equips you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, how you use your wool and how you can sell and market your wool to hand spinners.

4. The Field Guide to Fleece - Carol Ekarius

I personally know many shepherds who keep this book in their back pocket. This compact and portable reference offers quick and easy access to a treasure trove of information on 100 distinct sheep breeds, their fleece characteristics, and the ideal projects that make the most of their unique fibers.

One of the standout features of this guide is its user-friendly format. Crafters of all levels, from novices to experienced hands, will appreciate the simplicity with which they can look up valuable information about each sheep breed. Each breed profile includes a clear photograph of the animal, offering a visual connection to the source of the fleece. Additionally, you'll find details about the breed's origin and conservation status, which adds a meaningful context to your crafting endeavours.

The technical specifications provided for each breed are an absolute boon for fiber artists. You'll discover crucial details such as the fleece weight, staple length, fiber diameter, and the natural colors of the fleece. Armed with this information, you can confidently choose the right fleece for your project, ensuring that your creative vision aligns perfectly with the fiber's innate qualities.

This guide serves as a valuable primer for beginners, offering a simple and comprehensive introduction to the world of fleece and its diverse sources. However, it doesn't merely cater to novices; it's also a handy reference for experienced crafters and producers who love exploring the rich variety of fleece available to them.


SarabethParido, is the Director of the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival and The Kentucky Fiber Trail. She raises her own small flock of sheep in Clark County, Kentucky along with her husband and four sons.

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