A fast-paced account of the year Clara Parkes spent transforming a 676-pound bale of fleece into saleable yarn, and the people and vanishing industry she discovered along the way. Join Clara Parkes on a cross-country adventure and meet a cast of characters that includes the shepherds, dyers, and countless workers without whom our knitting needles would be empty, our mills idle, and our feet woefully cold. Travel the country with her as she meets a flock of Saxon Merino sheep in upstate New York, tours a scouring plant in Texas, visits a steamy Maine dyehouse, helps sort freshly shorn wool on a working farm, and learns how wool fleece is measured, baled, shipped, and turned into skeins. In pursuit of the perfect yarn, Parkes describes a brush with the dangers of opening a bale (they can explode), and her adventures from Maine to Wisconsin ('the most knitterly state') and back again; along the way, she presents a behind-the-scenes look at the spinners, scourers, genius inventors, and crazy-complex mill machines that populate the yarn-making industry. By the end of the book, you'll be ready to set aside the backyard chickens and add a flock of sheep instead. Simply put, no other book exists that explores American culture through the lens of wool.