Book Report: A Short History of the World According to Sheep

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I buy most of my books from Amazon, and they, of course, keep track of your buying history. They know I like books on wool, sheep, knitting, and so on, so I got this book, A Short History of the World According to Sheep, by Sally Coulthard (2020), on Amazon’s recommendation. I also thought the cover was pretty.

Beautiful cover, isn’t it?

Absolutely, I was right; the cover is great, a pastoral scene of grazing sheep by Nathan Burton, beautifully printed on textured paper. The book is a great tactile experience all around. These days you don’t often get books bound this well, so kudos to the Head of Zeus Press, whoever they are. I guess quality bookbinding is still alive and well in England today.

This sheepy little tome is indeed quite British, which lends a lot of charm. There are so many mentions of the names of tiny towns and villages in England, Scotland, and Wales that I got an urge to go look up photos of the whole lot of them. Sadly, there are no photos of sheep or villages to be found, though each chapter begins with a really lovely etching of something to do with sheep or wool.

The illustration of the chapter on wartime wool use.

I guess I should get around to Sally Coulthard’s content. It’s quite charming, and just full of fun tidbits about sheep, wool, word origins, and such. There are a LOT of English place names that refer to sheep and wool. And a bellwether was not a type of stock originally, but a very tame neutered ram who wore a bell to lead sheep where the shepherd wanted them to go. I want a bellwether. Well, I want any kind of wether, actually. I am so fond of them.

Each chapter in the book moves along through history and tells how sheep and humans have coexisted throughout history. There’s no doubt about it: sheep have shaped human life in many ways. They are darned useful animals, and Coulthard’s delightful way of telling stories about them makes for a pleasant read. I admit I could have used more details, but then, I’m a detail-oriented reader.

If you’re like me and enjoy reading about history through the lens of one particular commodity (after all, I’ve read books on salt, the pencil, various colors, and so on), you’ll get a lot out of this charming book. If you get bogged down by a bunch of place and people names with which you’re not familiar, or really aren’t enthusiastic about sheep and wool (how could you?), then you may want to go find another topic.

I’m glad to have read this one, as it cleansed my palate before starting the last unconscious bias book in my current stack of books.


An Offer!

Speaking of wool, I have a wooly offer for those of you who listen to the podcasts I make from these blog entries. The first person who sponsors my blog on Anchor for over the minimum $.99 a month will get a knitted throw by ME (and you can choose colors). The first ten people will get TWO knitted cotton dishcloths. Now, don’t you want to run over to subscribe?? Go to anchor.fm/sue-ann-suna-kendall/support to get set up!

Of course, you can make me (and maybe yourself) happy simply by following the The Hermit’s Rest podcast on any platform you like (here’s the Spotify link) and listening to an episode or two. My friend Mandi said it’s so much like talking to me that she kept trying to answer me back.

Knitting Progress and a Memory

Someone surprised me by asking how my knitting project was coming along. Sure, I’ll share.

Knitting plus ever-present lap dog.

I’m close to getting through two repeats of the lace pattern. I’m also awfully close to finishing the first skein of yarn, which means this will be more of a mat than a table runner. So, I’m going to see if there happens to be any of that yarn out there in the world. Who knows?

Pattern up close.

The black part of the yarn makes the lace pattern not show up as well, but that’s a risk I took by not doing this in a solid color. I’m not a perfect decreaser but I’ll smooth some of them out later.

Dark Lace

Just because a yarn is dark doesn’t mean you can’t make a lace project out of it. One of my favorite shawls is this beautiful one made from natural black sheepswool from American Shetland sheep. The shawl was made in 2010 and still looks new. No evil moths have attacked it.

Hey, that hunk of quartz makes a nice shawl display.

The style is Faroese, a traditional British Isles style. The way the center pattern and border intersect is so elegant.

Fun lace. Simple beauty.

The wool is spun a little scratchy, but that makes it stay on your shoulders and drape beautifully. I had Lee take a few pictures of me wearing it, since Ravelry only had pictures of the shawl alone.

It’s very light, but warm. I’m so glad the dogs are old enough that I can wear shawls again. Anyway, dark lace can be lovely.

Those of you wanting to make one can go to my Ravelry page for the project, which lists the source, yarn, and other details. Gosh, I still remember the day I bought the yarn and how helpful the shop owner was. We both kept patting the beautiful wool.

All the details!

Memories. I do have something percolating in my head to write more seriously about, so I’ll be back later. Now I must go on an adventure!