11 May 2011

Review: Sheepish by Catherine Friend

The Book:

Catherine Friend has gotten tired after fifteen years of sheep farming. Her writing muse has disappeared; her relationship with her partner is steady but quiet. The numbers of sheep farms has declined, while the sale of wool doesn't seem to have much of a market. Yet when all seems to point towards throwing in the towel, this is when Friend takes a good look at what she is in the middle of, and discovers what sheep are really worth.


The Yarn:

Sheepish takes us back into the life of Catherine Friend, following the successful memoir Hit By a Farm. More than a tale of rediscovering the joy of working with sheep, Sheepish takes us through several vignettes of life on the farm. In between stories of sheep sex (success and failures), lambings, hay bales and fencing comes reflections on recycling, on her relationship with her partner, Melissa, on writing and on discovering FarmVille. Friend gives highlights in the history of sheep and wool, then her own path to becoming a "fiber freak". Her first fumbling with spinning yarn to handling her first turquoise-dyed roving; from knitting a lot of rectangles to showing off her handknit socks in the airport, Friend learns the love that people have for wool. It is one that she has discovers for herself.

I adored Friend's first memoir, Hit By a Farm, and Sheepish is an excellent continuation of her story. I couldn't help but be drawn into Friend's life once again. She is not afraid to poke fun at herself, or the others interacted with through this time period. The theme of middles is a definite part of this tale. As Friend writes, "everyone needs a reason to keep going when they're in the middle." (p. 85) The idea of hitting the point in your life when you question whether or not you are doing the right thing or should be doing something else? Working with what you have, and finding out what you want to do with it, is all part of the journey. Being able to do it with a sense of humor and self-discovery? This makes sharing the story one that brings the reader along for the journey too.

Catherine Friend brings another wonderful tale of life on her Minnesota farm. With laughter and a few tears, Friend weaves together her stories like the threads on a loom, and as any fiber freak can tell you, this is a yarn we like to spin!

The Ink:

Title: Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet
Author: Catherine Friend
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Date: May 2011
Read: Trade Paperback (Provided by Publisher)