Episode 23 – Fleece and Fiber with Deb Robson

Episode 23 of the Fruity Knitting Podcast features Deb Robson, co-author of the Fiber and Fleece Sourcebook.  Concerned about the loss of rare sheep breeds, Deborah spent over four years researching and documenting over 200 different fleeces and fibers from sheep and other animals.  Our guest on Knitters of the World is Alix Pearson from Northumberland, UK.  Andrea shows us her very first Alice Starmore project, and Andrew shows us another sock.  It’s all happening.

Fruity Knitting Podcast – Episode 23 – Fleece and Fiber with Deb Robson

Interview with Deb Robson

Deb Robson – North Ronaldsay (Photo by Elizabeth Lovick)

Deb Robson was shocked to hear that some of the sheep breeds that she loved for their yarns were threatened with extinction.  Her response has been to dive into researching fleeces and fibers, and the result of many years work is the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, which Deborah co-authored with animal expert Carol Ekarius.  In the book Deb looks at over 200 fibers, mainly sheep fleeces, but also other animals.  She takes each type of fiber from its raw fleece state, through cleaning and spinning, and finally preparing a swatch, examining the characteristics at each stage.  There is also background on the sheep breeds themselves, with plenty of photos, some history and a statement on their conservation status.  It is a substantial volume and a beautiful reference for spinners, dyers, knitters and weavers.

Deb’s Field Guide to Fleece, also written in collaboration with Carol Ekarius, is a portable reference, perfectly suited to taking along to sheep, fleece and wool shows, to quickly look up the characteristics of a particular fleece.

Deb is particularly passionate about wool, and considers it from many different angles.  As a spinner and knitter herself, she looks at what types of wool are suitable for different articles of clothing – a soft shawl or a more sturdy sweater.  In her book she has recorded fiber diameter, staple length, crimp and luster, with photographs of samples at various stages of processing.  But at a time when much wool is disposed of as a worthless byproduct of the meat industry, Deb draws our attention to the benefits of wool in applications such as house insulation, carpets and mattress construction.  She mentioned a dog lead that she made out of a stronger wool, and encourages us to be creative in our own projects.

Deb Robson – Spinning up samples

In addition to her books, Deb has a free Craftsy class called Know your Wool.

She also holds retreats particularly for spinners, where participants investigate the properties of different samples hands-on.  The Explore 4 Fiber Retreats are held in Friday Harbor, Washington, in Spring and Fall.  It sounds like they book up early, so get in!

Deb Robson – Wool Processing

Find Deb

You can find Deb and all her current news at:

Photo Credits

We gratefully acknowledge photos provided by the following people:

  • Mary Macgregor
  • Judy Fort Brenneman
  • Elizabeth Lovick
  • Kris Paige
  • Robin Morse
  • Storey Publishing

Alix Pearson – Knitters of the World

Our guest on Knitters of the World is Alix Pearson, from Northumberland, UK.  Northumberland is the northernmost county in England, putting it right up by the border with Scotland.  We imagine this is a pretty beautiful spot.

Alix Pearson

Andrea has her eye on Alix’s wardrobe.  Andrea is taken by Alix’s style and dress sense, together with her dedication and skill at knitting.

Alix with Kate Winslet – this is so cool…

You can find all of Alix’s creations on Ravelry:

KAL News

Fair Isle Accessory KAL Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Fair Isle Accessory KAL.  It’s particularly exciting to hear that lots of people took the opportunity to try their very first stranded colorwork project.


Ruth – Winner of the Über den Traum pack

Our two winners are:

  • Ruth, from Seattle, Washington, who will receive the special pack kindly donated by Über den Traum.
  • Rachel (AchtungKitten), who will win a copy of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, by Felicity Ford

Rachel – aka Achtung Kitten, winner of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, by Felicity Ford

If you haven’t yet seen our interview with Felicity Ford, a.k.a KNITSONIK, you really should check it out.  She is wonderful, and, as it happens, just married!

Cable Garment KAL

The Cable Garment KAL is open until the end of February.  We are thrilled to see so many great garments coming in to the finished objects thread, and we encourage you to submit your little videos for our KAL Collage.  Full details are available in the Finished Objects thread on Ravelry, and you can also check out our previous collages in Episode 18.

From the Archives – Elizabeth I by Alice Starmore

Andrea was wearing her Elizabeth I by Alice Starmore.  This was the first Alice Starmore pattern that Andrea ever did, and I think it set her on to her path of more extravagant knitting.  I remember it was, at the time, a lot of knitting.

Elizabeth I, by Alice Starmore

(In the program, Andrea says that it’s made from Norwegian baby wool.  To me that sounded just a bit ambiguous, and I am tempted to look up Norwegian Baby in Deb’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.)

Andrea’s Sewing

Andrea’s Skirt – McCall’s M7022, with material from the Trefriw Woolsen Mills in North Wales

Andrea has finally got around to sewing up some material that she introduced way back in Episode 2.  In that Episode we took a tour of the Trefriw Woollen Mills in North Wales, which we visited during our Christmas vacation.  Andrea has turned to sewing to keep her distracted as she recovers from an injury to her arm, but she remains loyal to her knitting.

On the inside

Andrea is now making a blouse to go with the skirt – pattern is NewLook 6471.

We (very much) hope to be back to our regular service next episode.

Andrew’s Works

1.875 Socks

What a fine almost pair of socks – Lang Wool, not sure exactly which…

My next project is the Drachenfels shawl by Melanie Berg.  Andrea helped me pick some Rosy Green Wool yarns – I think they’re great colours, and I’m really looking forward to making this for mum.

Rosy Green Wool, in Wild Mallow, Sand and Arctic Sea

Become a Patron of the Fruity Knitting Podcast

From $5 per month you become a fully fledged Patron of the Fruity Knitting Podcast, and so help us bring you knitting inspiration from around the world, every two weeks.