Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Adventures In Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm

As a longtime knitter and enthusiastic fiber fanatic, I was thrilled to read Adventures In Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm by Barbara Parry.

The book, as the subtitle suggests, is divided into four main sections based on the seasons of the year. As I had hoped, each season contains several chapters which describe in wonderful detail the main tasks a shepherd faces with his or her flock throughout the year. I found the descriptions colorful and engaging without ever becoming too technical or tedious. As a city girl, I was delighted to read about what must be mundane tasks on the farm. From the decisions that go into which breed of sheep to acquire, to lambing season, how to properly tend and manage grazing pastures, and shearing, cleaning and spinning the wool, I found myself absorbed in each new season and experience!

What surprised and especially delighted me about Parry’s book was the inclusion of patterns for knitted items and recipes featuring the produce grown in the farm’s kitchen garden. What rich bonuses! There are also wonderful photographs of the farm, the flock and those who work with the land and animals. Because the farm is located in a part of the country I have never visited (New England), the photos and descriptions of the setting felt like a travelogue which allowed me to escape to a new place.

Another interesting insight for me included an explanation of a local phenomenon I had been curious about. There are sheep at a farm outside the city I live in. In the field with the sheep are two resident llamas. After reading Adventures In Yarn Farming, I now know why this is. [Spoiler Alert: the llamas serve as protectors to the flock while in the field, help watch over lambs in the barn and serve as doulas to the ewes during the birth process.]

If you are interested in what goes into making the yarn or fiber you work with, are simply curious about life on a New England sheep farm, or want to see some wonderful photography of said setting, I highly recommend Barbara Parry’s book!

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