Keepers of the Sheep is an interesting newish book which I believe is self-published by the author, Irene Waggener. The author worked with people from a village (Timloukine) in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco to learn about their knitting traditions and their culture, and came away with a wealth of information. The book is probably as much about the region’s culture as it is about knitting. As many of the people make a living as shepherds, knitting and sheep are intertwined with a lot of daily life.
There is not a huge number of patterns in the book, and they are not very ornate by and large. There are a lot of sock patterns, and a lot of discussion about older and newer ways of making socks in the community. Most of the patterns are exactly as they would be knitted by the community members, and some the author embellished a bit, inspired by local decorative motifs. She is always careful to say when something is as it would be knitted there or when she has altered it in some way.
One really distinctive garment from this area is knitted striped pants, which you do get the pattern for.
Although the book focuses on the community the author worked with, she does discuss the broader knitting culture of Morocco and north Africa in general. She also does talk a bit about the history of knitting in this area, and speculates a bit about historical connections with other knitting traditions.
I would definitely recommend Keepers of the Sheep for anyone who is interested in world knitting traditions or knitting history. It is very well written and well illustrated with good photographs and charts for patterns when they are needed. Another thing to recommend it – the author notes that as requested by the shepherds she worked with, she is donating a portion of the proceeds from the book to the women’s cooperative in the community. The women’s cooperative will use the funds for community development projects. I found it a fascinating read, and definitely plan to try out a couple of the patterns! The book, as well as wool from the women’s cooperative in Timloukine, can be purchased from the author’s Etsy shop, 106 Meters from the Road.