Sunday, December 11, 2011

Knit Local: Extended Review (Blogger's Remix)

I wrote a longer review for this book once I got to spend more time with it - for those of you who don't receive the Windy City Knitting Guild Newsletter, here is the full version: 

Dreaming of Spring Mittens by Elli Stubenrauch
Yarn: Mountain Meadow Wool Candy
Image © Sixth&Spring/Tanis Gray
Interlocking Rings Cowl by Danielle Romanetti
Yarn: Alpacas of Windswept Farm 100% Alpaca
Image © Copyright by Sixth&Spring/Tanis Gray

Knit Local by Tanis Gray

Tanis Gray's tome about American-based yarn purveyors is nothing short of remarkable.  There are lots of companies you know and love - Brown Sheep, Brooklyn Tweed, and Quince & Co., for example - and several that are new to the scene that may have escaped your notice til now.  The book's introduction sets the tone and has plenty of food for thought in its two pages.  The remainder of the book is comprised of profiles for each yarn company grouped by region and including patterns using that company's yarn.

Throughout the book, Gray tells the stories behind the yarn and explores what it means to be 'sustainable' - though this term clearly means different things to different people, time and time again the focus remains on the impact on the environment, animals and people involved in the finished product.  Consider this book a jumping-off point as you start to think about your crafting materials in a whole new light.  It's a fantastic way to get to acquainted with new yarns from your own backyard, which means there is an added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint (ie, not having to ship a large quantity of yarn halfway across the world) and supporting the local economy.  Besides that, you'll be treated to many new and exciting companies to seek out, and you'll find out some interesting tidbits along the way.  For example, I had no idea that Kraemer Yarns was a 100-year-old company run by a single family in Pennsylvania, nor was I aware that Stonehedge Fiber Mill developed their own line of yarn production equipment, which they sell to other companies as well as use themselves. 

Once you finish reading this book (and knit some of the lovely patterns, too!), you'll be itching to explore your yarn world - to get you started, Gray provides a list of additional companies to check out at the end of each section. I did find it curious that Lorna's Laces wasn't featured anywhere in the book, especially considering their neighbors Dream in Color and Misti Alpaca were both mentioned.  Then again, the point of this book is to offer a taste of the tantalizing yarns that have been hiding in plain sight all this time, encouraging the reader to explore, ask questions at their LYS, and be mindful when purchasing their next skein of yarn.

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