It’s not often that I find books that I know I’ll hold onto for a long time–real reference books that I can refer to frequently and use as a valuable resource in my crochet and knitting. Clara Parkes new book, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn happens to be one such book.

Clara delves deeply into the science and history of yarn, offering overviews on dying, fiber content and plying as seen by a knitter, i.e. “How do all these details of yarn making affect what I’m going to be making?” As Clara readily admits, any discussion of kinds of yarn is a challenge because brands and styles come in and out of production very quickly, but by teaching the knitter about how yarn is made we’re better apt to be able to make changes and substitutions when a much loved yarn dissappears.

While the amount of information is great, I was wishing for a little more detail about the social, environmental, and economic impact of the production of various types of yarn. But I can see why it’s not there–this book is meant to encourage yarn use of all types and not discourage knitters from using any one kind of yarn. (I should note there is a short section about organic yarn.)

The bulk of the book is devoted to patterns that are organized by and exploit different kinds of yarn. Clara has worked with top designers to come up with beautiful, classic patterns. The patterns are clearly laid out and include schematics and stitch charts where warranted. Because of how they’re organized, it’s easy to substitute your own yarns for those used in the samples. I love Jennifer Hagan’s Baby Soft Cardigan and Lana Hames’ hemp Girly Tee which has a pretty round yoke and decorative shaping. There’s also a beautiful chenille washcloth designed by Clara herself.

Of course, I would love to see patterns and information about how all these yarns are affected and best used by crochet stitches, but since the book is already over 250 pages, I can imagine that would have necessitated another volume.

The book is beautifully produced, the photographs are lovely to look at and natural looking. The pages have a subtle matte finish that feels and looks great. The The Knitter’s Book of Yarn truly is what the subtitle says: “The ultimate guide to choosing, using and enjoying yarn.”

P.S. Don’t forget–you have until tonight at Midnight to enter the Knitting Nature book contest.

Book Review: The Knitter’s Book of Yarn