I borrowed this gem of a book from my local public library and just had to rave about it to you. It's the type of book that I love the most--a book that is filled with a vast amount of information on a relatively focused topic. In the case of 'The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook', that topic is wool as viewed through the lens of a spinner and knitter/crocheter.
The first thing that struck me about this book is its thoroughness; 'The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook' reviews over 200 types of fiber-producing animals, the vast majority of which are sheep breeds. Not only is there information on common breeds like Merino and Blue-Faced Leicester, but the book is also full of conservation breeds that I've never heard of before, such as Manx Loaghtan and Devon Closewool. A helpful table, below, compares all of these sheep breeds by their fiber softness and even recommends types of projects for each category (ie, scarves for soft wool and carpets for coarse wool).
Beyond the book's breed thoroughness, the written and photographic information about each animal is excellent. The authors describe each breed in terms of geography and what they were bred for, in addition to describing the characteristics and preparation of their fleeces. Sample fibers from every animal described in this book have been hand spun and woven/knit up. The written descriptions are accompanied by a photograph of the animal and photographs of sample fiber. Occasionally, the authors also include an interesting story relating to a particular breed, such as that of Shrek the Sheep (Merino).
What's great about this book is that it's very detailed yet focused for the fiber artist. The authors have struck a nice balance between gaining an understanding of individual breeds and learning about the different properties of their wool. While the authors state that their limited sampling cannot predict the behavior of an entire breed, they provide enough information so that you will generally know what to expect should you encounter fiber from a rare sheep breed.
I can't recommend this book enough to knitters and spinners who want to learn more about the range of animal fibers available to them. It's an interesting read and one that will teach you a lot about wool. I have a feeling that this book will eventually make its way onto my bookshelf as my library's 4-week borrowing period is just not enough time to get to know this wonderful resource.