Book Review

  Sweaters from New England Sheep Farms
by Candace Eisner Strick
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If you've ever dreamed of chucking it all, moving to the country, raising sheep, and producing your own yarn, you must own this book.

Journey Through New England

Candace Eisner Strick traveled throughout New England with her loyal chauffeur husband, visiting farms and profiling the fiber artists who run them.

The result is a marvelous collection of eight personal stories that offer a rare glimpse into the demanding life of small-scale fiber producers.

The Patterns

Inside you'll find profiles of the fiber artists, and then patterns that Strick designed for each fiber artist's yarns.

The patterns are predominantly intermediate-level cabled, stitchwork-intensive pullovers, plus a few colorful cardigans and pullovers, a funky pair of socks, and some adorable sheep mittens.

They're clearly written and well illustrated.

The Yarns

Although the patterns were written for each designer's yarn, Strick offers suggestions for substituting commercial yarns. Based on our experiences working with these yarns, however, you'll be well advised to seek out the yarns produced by these farmers instead of substituting.

Nanney Kennedy's Meadowcroft Farm Seacolors yarn knits up beautifully (click here to read our review of it), and the hand-painted colors in Ellen's 1/2-Pint Farm yarns are quite lovely (click here for pictures of Ellen and her yarn taken at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival in October 2000).

The Long Road to Wellness

Each person in this book came to the fiber profession from slightly different paths. You'll learn about New York City advertising execs Margrit and Albrecht Pilcher who run Morehouse Farm; and Don and Heather Minto, caretakers of a working farm owned by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. And then there's Alice and Mike Field, who raise over 100 fiber-producing sheep, goats, and rabbits on their farm but humbly insist they are "just farmers."

What unites all these individuals is their serious love of sheep, fiber, and the often exhausting fiber-producing way of life.

You'll gain a deeper appreciation of the hard work and dedication that goes into producing quality yarns -- and you'll never look at hand-made yarn the same way again.

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