Saturday, 26 March 2011

Handspinning Rare Wools DVD by Deb Robson - Not just for spinners!

Little packages from America are always exciting, and the wait for the last one seemed much longer than usual since I'd pre-ordered it earlier in the year.  There is a discussion thread about it in Blacker & Beyond on Ravelry (Ravelry members only can use this link, but it is free to join

I've been watching some of the chapters again and, seeing the level of interest from another member of the household, I thought I would post my thoughts about the dvd here as well.

To use Deb’s own closing word - MAGIC

A quote I will remember and use when talking to people about why I get so excited about the enormous variety in wool from different breeds:
“Like telling a woodworker they can only work with pine”.

Right, I shall put my reviewer hat on as per a request from a friend, and for anyone else who might be interested. These are of course my personal opinions!

Photography is superb with one tiny exception that I’ll mention later. I really liked the studio set up - calming and quiet on the eye but nice images of sheep in the back that I enjoyed but weren’t distracting. I want one of those vertical basket supports!

Sound quality was good, gentle music between the sections feel appropriate in nature to me.
DVD menu was fine - you get the option to choose ‘chapters’. For someone who was wanting to get straight to the chapter for a particular breed, you would need to know which ‘class’ that breed fell into.

If you put the dvd into a computer you can download a very informative pdf with a list of every breed covered in the dvd and information about the classification of every breed regarding ‘rare’ status from RBST and American Livestock Breeds Conservancy - it was very helpful to be able to see that information from the 2 organisations on one table.

Looking through Deb’s fleece preparation equipment and supplies, along with her talking about why she uses what she does, was fascinating and I learnt a great deal.

The first chapter of dvd 1 - what is a breed, what makes it rare, and why should we care? - was extremely informative, and Deb really does manage to come across ‘on film’ with the same passion and enthusiasm that I’ve experienced listening to her in person. Absolutely packed full of interesting facts and at times, yes, I did get emotional. The future existence of some of these breeds is not guaranteed.

The way the different breeds were grouped seemed to me to be logical and sensible.

The close up filming was good and you could clearly see what Deb was referring to in a fibre or yarn, but as we all know it is difficult to show fine detail in very dark colours. When one ‘black’ yarn was displayed on a mid grey surface that didn’t help. Although I could manage to see everything, I felt I was having to make a conscious effort to do so. All the subsequent very dark fleeces and yarns were on a lighter brown woven mat and that really improved the ease of viewing them.

I learnt a vast amount about both the breeds and their wool, and how to prepare and spin these very different fibres.

There was however also a great deal of information for knitters, weavers and crocheters and I don’t think the title of the dvd gets this across. I suspect the pragmatic need for a short title may have played a part in this. I wonder also if the spinners involved with the production of this dvd perhaps didn’t realise that non-spinners would find a ‘spinning’ dvd interesting and useful, even when it has such a lot of information about the breeds and fibres.

Many who don’t spin would still want to watch a discussion about the spinning qualities of wool from different breeds, and this will enable them to evaluate breed specific commercial yarns better and could be valuable to them in their yarn purchases. As someone who has only been spinning for a few months but was knitting with breed specific commercial yarns before then I would definitely have found this dvd extremely useful and interesting when I wasn’t a spinner. Deb does also show samples of commercially spun yarns from some of the breeds and discusses them, so I would have no hesitation in recommending this dvd to non-spinners.

I’m very pleased I own the dvd because there was so much information there that I've already found myself going back to watch individual chapters again.  It was a very enjoyable 3hrs  watching from start to finish, and I’m very pleased I did that, but there was too much to take in fully during that one session. This isn’t just a ‘watch once’ experience - this is a dvd that will be an invaluable, ongoing resource for me.

So, would I sit there in real life with knitting, spinning and sheep loving friends and advise them to buy it - you bet! ☺

How to get hold of your own copy:
DVD  can be purchased from Interweave - there is also a preview on this link.  For those outside America, my experience of ordering from Interweaves is that if they have an item in stock then it comes across the Atlantic quite quickly.

Download  is a much quicker way to get it if outside America.

While waiting for the dvd to be released I found it very interesting and encouraging to read Deb's post on her blog

A friend has also blogged about her experience of watching this dvd and you can read her thoughts here

As if all this weren't enough to get lovers of sheep breeds excited, we do of course have the release of "The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn" written by Deb and Carol Ekarius, in a few months time.

1 comment:

  1. Desperately must have this dvd!!! Great to meet you at Wonderwool.