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Tinky Weisblat

Book review: Yarn books

Special to The Recorder

“Adventures in Yarn Farming” by Barbara Parry (Roost Books, 320 pages, $27.95) and “Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece” by Gail Callahan (Storey Publishing, 168 pages, $18.95)

Franklin County enjoys a remarkable diversity of artists and artisans. Most of us are aware of our area’s rich vein of potters, glassblowers, cheesemakers, and quilters. Two colorful, informative books demonstrate that our extended neighborhood also houses artists who work in fiber and yarn.

The women behind these books will appear next Saturday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to noon at the World Eye Bookshop. They are Barbara Parry of Shelburne, author of “Adventures in Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm,” and Gail Callahan, creator of “Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece.”

Parry and her husband raise a variety of animals at their Springdelle Farm to produce the fiber she sells. She also teaches fiber-arts skills. Callahan runs frequent classes on yarn dyeing. She sells her own yarn as well through her business, the Kangaroo Dyer.

I flirted with knitting in college before realizing that I would never possess the hand-eye coordination to fashion woolen goods anyone would care to wear. Nevertheless, I found much to interest me in both Parry’s and Callahan’s books.

“Adventures in Yarn Farming” features gorgeous photography by Ben Barnhart of Conway. It follows Parry through a year on her farm. She frankly discusses her love of animals and their fiber — and also touches on the amount of work it takes to keep her business going.

This stunning, charming book includes patterns for knitwear; recipes from Chef Margaret Fitzpatrick of Hawley, who frequently feeds Parry and her farmyard helpers; and tips for spinning and dyeing natural fibers.

“Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece” is more pragmatic than Parry’s book. Callahan introduces a variety of techniques for coloring animal fiber, trying hard to make this craft sound undaunting—and pretty much succeeding.

Callahan leads the novice dyer through both easy and complex modes of creating color. She writes with enthusiasm and clarity.

I will probably never dye yarn or fleece. Nevertheless, this book grabbed my interest. Its discussion of color palettes in particular will help me choose clothes, decorate cookies, and arrange flowers.

The two books complement each other nicely. Although Parry’s volume is more descriptive and Callahan’s more practical, they have a lot in common. Both books use color wisely and well. The authors’ words communicate their attachment to nature and to art. They also reveal lively senses of humor.

Taken together these books should inspire lovers of fiber, color, and country life to embark on their own yarn- and fleece-related adventures.

Parry and Callahan have big plans for their appearance at World Eye Bookshop, including a dyeing demonstration, yarn displays and a “house lamb” named Snug.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” She is always looking for new books from Franklin County-related authors to review. If you have a book suggestion, email her at For more information about Tinky, visit her website,

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