The Fall issues of Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits both featured reviews of The Natural Knitter and the book immediately captured my interest. As a vegetarian who also tries to consume organic dairy products and purchase environmentally friendly products, I’m always interested in learning more about organic processes, especially when it comes to knitting. Frustratingly, I couldn’t find much on the content of The Natural Knitter online and my local independent book store and big box book store didn’t have copies of the book the multiple times I checked. So, I requested that the library purchase the book (I’m a library enthusiast but didn’t realize that this was possible at my local library until recently. If she’s reading, perhaps Shannon can weigh in on if this is a widespread practice). It arrived yesterday and I eagerly dashed to the library to pick it up and I sat down and read it cover to cover this evening.

The descriptions of cultivation processes of a wide array of fibers is very, very detailed. If you’re the curious sort you’ll love learning about where just about every non-petroleum based fiber comes from. If, like me, you hate acrylic yarn anyway but always felt like a bit of an elitist for shunning it, you can now say that you prefer natural fibers for environmental reasons. I found the descriptions of each fiber production company quite interesting also. I’m now inspired to buy a VW van and travel around the states visiting all the conscientious small scale operations covered in the book.

However, if you buy a knitting book strictly for the patterns, I would have to say this probably isn’t the book for you. There is only one pattern that I might consider making, The Quiviut Twinset

The other patterns range from boring to the offensive Chenille in the Morning housecoat, which features a pocket adorned with and assortment of buttons. But to be fair, I find chenille offensive in pretty much any form.  I also found myself wishing that there was more than one picture of the patterns.  Perhaps if I had seen the back of any of the projects they would have won me over.

In general, The Natural Knitter is a fascinating read and a real tribute to the late Barbara Albright’s commitment to thoroughly researching her subject, but a fresher take on patterns would have made it a must buy.