Those in the know reveal insider info about creating the book.

Spinner's Book of Fleece Cover

1. It took as long to make the fiber samples pictured in the book as it did to write the manuscript.

Author Beth Smith spun, knitted, and wove every yarn sample and swatch in the book. That’s twenty-one breeds of sheep multiplied by approximately six samples per breed, equaling well over one hundred samples. How long did it take? She says about as long as it took her to write the entire manuscript: six months for each.

2. The photos are life-sized! (Well, not the sheep.)

All of the yarn, the locks of fleece, and the knit and woven swatches in the book were photographed at the exact same scale so they could be reproduced in the book at actual size. “The reader can determine the real weight of the fiber simply from looking at the pages,” notes Storey Creative Director Alethea Morrison. “Kudos to Gwen Steege, the editor, for insisting on the importance of this.”

End Sheets from The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

Endsheets with fleece. Photo by John Polak, excerpted from The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

The textiles used as a background on the front cover and endsheets were hand-painted with indigo by Los Angeles artist Britt Browne, and the cards around which yarn samples are wrapped were all hand-painted by Alethea: “Picking up on the brush-stroke design on the cover, I painted all the yarn cards with pale blue watercolor.”

3. Beyond the yarns and swatches, there are several handcrafted elements in the book.

Hand painted yarn cards

Alethea’s hand-painted yarn cards. Photo by John Polak, excerpted from The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

In addition to the indigo-painted cloth on the cover and end pages, Alethea selected indigo-dyed cloth to appear on every chapter opener: “The textiles used as the background for the chapter openers is a shibori noren, purchased from Sumire Design. Noren are tiny curtains hung in doorways of Japanese homes and shops and shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique. In this cloth, the pattern was drawn in non-permanent ink and then stitched with heavy thread. The thread was tightened and the cloth dyed with indigo, much like tie-dying. The stitches were removed to reveal the undyed pattern.”

4. Mood Indigo: The author prefers pink.

Alethea reveals: “It wasn’t until after that was done that I found out blue is Beth Smith’s least favorite color (she’s a red and pink kind of gal). Thanks for rolling with it, Beth! You’re a good sport.”

Shibori noren

Shibori noren. Photo by John Polak, excerpted from The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

5. When it comes to photo shoots, only French nails will do.

In addition to red and pink, Beth Smith is a fan of fingernails with bling. Editor Gwen Steege had to deliver the bad news: for the photo shoot, subtle is the rule. Beth obliged with a classic French manicure, though we wouldn’t be surprised if a more elaborate polish job was first on her list as she drove out of town.

Beth Smith's hands

Beth Smith’s hands at work in The Spinner’s Book of Fleece. Photo by John Polak.

Want more? Take a peek inside The Spinner’s Book of Fleece and find your copy wherever books are sold.You don’t have to take it from us, of course: read Beth’s own recap of the photo shoot on her blog.

Storey Digital Editors

We are the staff at Storey Publishing — the crafters, cooks, brewers, builders, homesteaders, gardeners, and all-around DIY-ers who make Storey books.

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