Vanishing Fleece by Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes buys a 676-pound bale of raw wool and sees it through to the finished yarn stage, by means of several differing mills and dye shops. Kind of the Michael Pollan of yarn. Basically, this book should have been titled, “Hey, Chris, Over Here”.
Clara buys her wool on shearing day from a farm in New York state. She sends some of it to Bartlett Yarn in Maine, some to Blackberry Ridge in Wisconsin, some to a big mill called S&D, some to a precious-sounding two-person natural dye studio in California, some to a big chemical dye company in Biddeford, Maine. It’s FUN!
The mills and shops are all wildly different, and give her wildly different results, almost all of them wonderful. Bartlett gives her a pleasing yarn she describes as being like “oatmeal,” in contrast to the lovely yarn Blackberry gives her, which she compares to “jasmine rice.” I thought those were knockout descriptions.
Clara’s excitement is palpable. On the floor of one vast spinning mill, she says she feels like she’s been shrunk to miniature size and let loose inside her Mom’s Singer sewing machine. Another great description!
I liked that Clara is based in Maine and visits places I’m familiar with, like the dyeing company in Biddeford – haven’t visited them per se, but I do think I was in a brewery next door last summer.
I may try more of her books – she seems like a super-fun fellow-wool-traveler!