Since it’s a dull Monday, shall we have an over-excited book review and a giveaway? Yes? OK, here goes:-
Somewhere in Greenland, there are small birds living in more luxury than you do. See this nest? It’s lined with pure qiviut – you know, that crazy-expensive luxury fibre from the tummy-fluff of the musk ox.
Lucky birds. That said, after such a pampered start in life, the chicks will probably grow up completely unable to cope with the harsh realities of the world.
You and I would have to sell the car in order to afford a really sizeable quantity of qiviut (although I’ve written before about my encounter with the stuff), but in the Greenland tundra, small birds simply pluck qiviut from bushes where it was left by moulting musk oxen. And who can blame them?
But I’m not telling you this just to make you feel inadequate about your non-qiviut-lined home. The story behind the nest photo is one of many insights in a book that’s just been published – a book that I’m really, really, excited to be showing you.*
Introducing In Search Of The World’s Finest Wools, by Dominic Dormeuil and Jean-Baptiste Rabouan, published by Firefly Books:-
To begin with a few facts: this book is a photographic journey undertaken by a textile firm boss and a photo-journalist, to witness and record the production of eight of the world’s most luxurious fibres (qiviut, cashmere, taewit, pashmina wool, Shetland wool, merino, mohair, and vicuña, in case you’re wondering). But this is no twee, prettified, album of holiday snaps: Dormeuil’s mission was to record the realities of the lives of the people who produce these fibres, at a time when those lifestyles are under threat.
Dormeuil wants us to think about the origin of – say – the cashmere jumper that we wear, to understand the generations-old skill that has gone into creating the fibre, the pride and wisdom of the producers, and the valid reasons for its high price.
I can’t help saying it, though: this book is beautiful. Really, really, beautiful. Rabouan is a genius-behind-the-lens, whether capturing baby cashmere goats at play, or the emotions of a Kyrgyz herdsman.
As for the text, each chapter is a meld of economics, social history, physical geography, and raw storytelling. We meet the individuals whose lifestyles (it’s never just a job) centre around fibre production. Several times the metaphor of quality wine production is used, to explain how only the right combination of terrain, climate, animals, and human skill will generate the finest-diameter, most lustrous, fibres. Unlike in wine production, however, it is often the most remote, or the most barren, or the coldest, or the highest-altitude environments where the best fibre is produced. These people, and their herds, are tough.
If I have a criticism, it’s that far too often, I was left wanting more information, more depth. (Why, for example, are merino sheep so very demanding to keep?) If you can imagine a scale extending from coffee-table-art-book at one end, to ruthlessly-analytical-textbook at the other end, this book is maybe slightly closer to the art-book end of the spectrum than its introduction implied that it would be. Still, I can’t really begrudge all these photos. They’re freakin’ stunning.
Oh, and the book could have used a little more copy-editing, as there were a few errors, especially around quantities (or perhaps I’m wrong, and vicuña really can run at 743 miles per hour).
But those criticisms are tiny. Mostly, I just want to say that I love this book.
In Search Of The World’s Finest Wools (Dormeuil & Rabouan, 2016) is out now, available worldwide. Hardback, 176pp. Published by Firefly Books Ltd. Recommended prices include £20.00 UK, $35.00 US, $39.95 CDN.
But to save you all that effort of trudging off to a bookshop, how would you like to win a copy? Firefly Books are very generously offering one lucky reader of this blog the chance to win a copy. And yes, this contest is open worldwide!
Usual Twisted procedures apply. To enter, leave a comment below this post. To gain a sneaky additional entry, ‘like’ this blog’s Facebook page (the page overall, I mean) AND leave a comment under the Facebook post mentioning this blog post. The contest is open from RIGHT NOW until 12.00 midday (UK time) on Monday 3rd April. After that time, one winner will be selected at random using random.org. I will contact that person to obtain their address, and pass this information on to Firefly Books, who will send out the prize. If after a week of trying, I have been unable to contact the winner, an alternative winner will be chosen at random. Does this make sense? Good luck!
∗ Yes, Firefly Books very kindly gave me a free copy to review, and offered to fund the giveaway. However they had no involvement in the content of this review. My excitement about this book is genuine.
Lindsey Loughtman says
I’d love to win this book about all kinds of woolly stuff!
Mary Houlker says
It is very helpful to read about books before buying. Sounds an interesting book! I like to have maps when a book tells of foreign lands – helps anchor the information to a place.
Please enter me in your giveaway. The book looks beautiful.
Tara Forrest says
I think it is fascinating to learn about where yarn (my drug of choice) come from!
Nada Roberts says
That sounds interesting.
This book looks so interesting. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
Katie Writes Stuff says
What a gorgeous book! I believe I could spend hours getting lost in the photographs alone but I think my mum would love it even more, given that she spins her own wool for knitting.
It looks gorgeous and so interesting.
fabulous looking book! this would be the closest I think I could ever get of travelling to see for myself how these wonderful fibres are harvested and produced!
Fascinating and enlightening book! Please enter me in the giveaway.
How ever did they get that sheep to pose mid shear? Most sheep go into an almighty sulk after shearing but he is a real pro.
Marguerite StClaire says
OMG!!! What a truly amazing book!!! Thank you sooo much for making this opportunity possible!
Sounds like something I could spend some quite time on reading
Claire Holmes says
That review is so enticing that I have to have a copy of the book. Give me a bundle of wool excitement!!!!
It looks such a beautiful book, I’d love to own it.
And…if they really can run at 743 miles an hour I’d love to see it!
The Twisted Yarn says
At that speed, I guess you’d scarcely see it at all!
Oh, yes please, that book is beautiful!
Stunning photos and interesting book. Time we did think about where stuff comes from.
What a fabulous book, so good to learn about the background of the most luxurious fibres. T.hank you.
Looks like a wonderful book.
Thank you for the chance to enter. What an amazing looking book!
Mary Curran says
This book looks amazing
Those are some astonishing photos, it is intriguing to known the hard process which goes into making these refined products!
The Black Sheep Blogger says
So honored to have a chance to win this book! Thank you Madame Twisted <3
It looks beautiful. Please add my name to win.
Diane Warner says
What a beautiful book! And one that offers a link to the history and complexity of our shared fascination with the fibre arts! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
I’d feel so inspired when having a look at this book! I wish I could be the luchy winner!!
What a beautiful book — and such a wonderful idea to hear the stories behind the yarn!
Kate Sheridan says
If I don’t win this book I will be buying it for sure! What stunning photography, I love learning about where different wools come from.
Ahhhh! Wow those photos are stunning!
Oh I would like to see more of this book.
Carol Giede says
Thank you for your book review. It would be nice to win, but I do wish all the other commenters a good shearing chance at winning also.
Lyn Smith - Australia says
I would love to win/have a copy of this book. It looks just fantastic, as much for the locations and the yarn info. I do enjoy your blog. Thank you.
elizabeth kay booth says
Wow, that is a gorgeous book! I haven’t seen many “coffee table” sorts of yarn books that just celebrate the beauty of where it comes from. Most are reference books – I really love the concept of this book. 🙂
Beautiful book – can never have too many photos of sheep!
It looks like a fabulous book. Learning to spin has opened a whole new world of Yarn Appreciation to me and I’m always eager to learn more about production.
Lee Bromwich says
The photos in the book look amazing. I would love to be the lucky recipient of the giveaway book
Born To Organize says
What a gorgeous book. I love anything to do with fibers and I’m really smitten with the gorgeous pics. Thanks for your review.
Pamela Stuck says
Jill S says
Beautiful book – I’d love to be in the draw!
Oooh! What a fantastic looking book. Please enter me in the draw. Thank you B?
Barbara Hermsmeyer says
This looks like a yummy book to get my eyes into!
Those pictures are fabulous! I’d love to be entered 🙂
Pamela Nees says
Oh. My. Such a book.
Photography is stunning.
Carol Vile says
I would love to own and stroke this book – nearly as much as the actual yarns lol
Lex Priestley says
I do so like the look of this book, the photos look stunning . And I enjoyed reading your review. I’m in!
Victoria Smith says
I’ve been reading lots of lovely reviews about this book. I’d love a copy!
This looks superb! My sister in law is Japanese and only uses japanese yarn, but she is interested in finding out about other rare and unusual types- I would love to show her this!
Janet Newman says
It looks like a beautiful book! I would love a chance to win it.
What a magnificent looking book! I’d like to win that… Or a chance at it at least!
I would like to acquire this book please!