Monday, 27 June 2011

Travelling with my book

Time to write about The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (FFSB) which has become a constant companion.

The book weighs a lot – I think Deb's blog said it weighs over 3lb – so you need to remember that fact when reading about where I've been travelling with it. It needs to be that big and heavy because of the enormous amount of information it contains, the vast number of stunning photographs and the quality of the hardback binding. The latter being essential given how I'm carting it around and how many other people are looking at it.

There are a lot of threads about it on Ravelry, but one that was red hot at the end of May and beginning of June was in the UK Spinners group. Some of us had ordered our copies from Amazon at the beginning of the year and we were logging into our accounts daily to see when it would be arriving. Then Amazon did one of the most stupid things I've come across – they didn't rush through the orders. Do they not understand the significance of FFSB? Didn't the large number of pre-orders activate the 'put this book on rush order' button.

Well obviously not because they put back the projected delivery date – FAIL!

So we went hunting, and found that another company had the book listed under the original publication date of 1 June with deliveries estimated for a couple or so of days later.

Anyway I wasn't prepared to wait for Amazon's idea of 'urgent delivery of important book' timetable, so I put in a 2nd order with this other company. A few days later the book arrived – darling Husband was at home to receive it thank goodness. Can you imagine the anguish if it had disappeared into the Royal Mail/Parcel Force minimum 48hr wait for redelivery?

Feeling extremely angry with Amazon's cavalier treatment of sheep and wool enthusiasts I took great delight in cancelling my order with them and telling them why in no uncertain terms.

Back to FFSB – the cover is visually stunning. As you open the package the rust red colour starts showing and then you catch a glimpse of sheep and fiber – blissful anticipation.

Now at this point you'll be expecting me to relate how the rest of my life ground to a halt while I stayed up all night reading the book from cover to cover – I wish! Not only did I still have Jodi the Guide Dog puppy to look after and train, but life was incredibly busy – madly busy by any standards – with Woolsack and events related to that. The book sat by my laptop and I snatched quick random reads of it when I could. I also realised that in just the first few hours since it had arrived I had already used it as a reference book for a number of different sheep/wool related questions – and the book was not found wanting! It was easy to find what I was looking for in the index and the layout of the section on each breed made it easy to find the fact I wanted to check.

I prepared to travel to Peterborough for the East of England show where I was running the Woolsack stand. Book of course came with me and became a major attraction on the stand.

There were a few nervous moments when people from the other stands came over to borrow the book to show it to someone or check something out – would my precious book get safely back to me?

I was much happier with people reading it on the stand where I could keep an eye on it. If I'd taken a large crate-ful of the book with me we'd have sold the lot! Everyone liked it and the book itself stood up very well to this intensive handling.

Just a couple of days after getting back to Newcastle following East of England show and a Woolsack meeting with LOCOG at Canary Wharf the car was packed up yet again. Book was firmly in my hand luggage. Wherever I went the book came with me. All the way up the A9 and the cover to cover reading was at last able to commence in the hotel near Scrabster. Bliss.

 Inside and outside on the Scrabster to Stromness ferry

I hadn't realised how much general information about wool was at the front of the book. If you want a comprehensive explanation of Bradford counts, microns and measurements of wool fibres that are new to me, then this is the book you need. It also has a very handy and comprehensive chart putting all this information together – I wish the Flotta ferry timetable was as understandable!

The book was read at the ferry ports, on both ferrys, in the Stromness cafe and is now sitting happily by my bedside for reading at leisure during my week on Flotta.

In a Stromness cafe (Orkney cheese is delicious) and on the very windy final ferry to Flotta

This is a book that I would classify as essential reading for any spinner, but also has a great deal to offer knitters and weavers. Deb and Carol set out to try and source as many spun yarns as possible for the breeds in the book and they found many more than I had thought existed – very good news for those who don't spin. This time last year I was a non-spinning sheep and breed-specific wool enthusiast so I know what this book would have been able to offer me then.

Just before I left for Flotta someone raised, on Ravelry, the obvious question – would there be a FFSB group? This is actually a very natural evolution – why get all excited about something alone when you can share your excitement with other people. As we geared up to start a new group Beth from the Spinning Loft, who had kindly offered to start the group, posted the results of her 'existing groups on Ravelry' research – Blacker and Beyond appeared to have a huge overlap with the subject area of the book. After a poll, a number of posts and a check on the subject of whooshing entire threads into another group the decision was made. B&B would become B&B with FFSB and we'd give it a trial. Hasty changes were made to the group badge and banner – fortunately Deb came up with something much better for the banner than my rushed attempt – and the new part of B&B was launched.

Despite the fact that her daughter is getting married during the first weekend in June Beth started a Tour de Fleece FFSB Team. Let the fun begin!

So that's about it. I had thought I'd write a proper review of the book, but I realise it would have been very short. Not even I can pad out;

Essential reference book, beautifully presented and bound, delightful and fascinating to read from cover to cover. If you are interested in sheep and wool, this is a 'must-have' book.”

So instead you've had the story of 'have book, will travel'.

The story is far from over..........

I'm flying to North Ronaldsay in a few days. I'm taking my sidekick wheel (Tour de Fleece starts the day we leave for North Ron) and hope to bring back some fleece. I really want to take the book. Total luggage allowance per person on the little plane is 15kg. Watch this space.


  1. Thank you for posting this today, it was a brilliant read :)

  2. I've read some of the Ravelry threads, I think I'll have to get a copy!