Book Reviews from Spin Off Fall 2019

Discover new books on sheep shearing, natural dyes, and textile photography.

Spin Off Editorial Staff Dec 13, 2019 - 3 min read

Book Reviews from Spin Off Fall 2019 Primary Image

Raw Material: Working Wool in the West

By Stephany Wilkes
Sheep-shearing demonstrations always draw a crowd at local fiber festivals, but few fiber lovers attempt this backbreaking feat themselves, even if they entertain dreams of owning their own sheep. Meet Stephany Wilkes, a certified sheep shearer who left a career in the tech industry after completing a University of California Extension course in shearing. As Wilkes’s own story unfolds, she gives readers a peek into the American wool industry. Following the many steps that transform a shorn fleece into a sustainable skein on a local yarn shop shelf, she introduces us to a cast of characters, including unpredictable sheep, small-scale producers, ranchers, local mill operators, government bureaucrats, and many more.
Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University Press, 2018. Paperback, 312 pages, $18.95. ISBN 978-0-87071-951-6.

The Art and Science of Natural Dyes: Principles, Experiments, and Results

By Joy Boutrup and Catharine Ellis
Many handspinners long to be taken under the wing of an experienced dyer. Teachers and dye experts Joy Boutrup and Catharine Ellis, understanding the need for mentorship and resources, wrote the book they wish had been available when they began exploring natural dyes. More than a just a recipe book, The Art and Science of Natural Dyes delves deeper to answer why certain methods and processes work. Each chapter covers a different topic and includes technical themes, such as fiber structure and dye chemistry, before getting into mordants, dyeing, and printing. Full-color photos of dye samples, dye recipes, an appendix, and a glossary complete the volume. This is a handbook to keep within easy reach for quick reference in the dye studio.
Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2018. Hardcover and spiral-bound, 176 pages, $60. ISBN 978-0-76435-633-9.

The Human Thread: Photography of Joe Coca

By Joe Coca
When Colorado photographer Joe Coca began taking pictures of textiles for Interweave’s founder Linda Ligon and Handwoven magazine in the 1980s, he had no idea that the work would evolve into a career traveling the globe documenting fiber artists and makers. From Cambodia to Peru, The Human Thread offers a retrospective of Coca’s work shot on five continents. Through Coca’s lens, we share in his vantage point and are welcomed into each frame to witness an artisan’s culture and traditions. This intimate collection of 105 photographs reminds us that our passion for craft is something that is shared and celebrated, connecting us not only to a place but also to each other.
Loveland, Colorado: Thrums Books, 2019. Paperback, 188 pages, $36.95. ISBN 978-1-73351-086-8.