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Dear Ann,

Today being Saturday and all,  I get to spend a few hours on the BFJ–my Kaffe Fassett Big Flower Jacket. Love of my life, millstone around my neck.When one is knitting-deprived, even a chenille death spiral of intarsia sounds like fun. I’m looking forward to it.

At the moment I’m strapped for time to do my Number 1 hobby, so I’m not exactly looking for a new hobby. But Rhinebeck is lumbering into view–four weeks from today those gates will be opening–and with it, my annual temptation to take up spinning. The combination of sheep and fleeces, batts and rovings and tops and hankies, handcrafted wheels, and people sitting around blissing out while spinning– it’s all too much for some susceptible souls. They become spinners.

Spinning is an ancient art. The basis for all the fiber arts is the creation of thread. The tools are lovely. The rhythm is entrancing. And I still don’t want to do it. I want other people, who do it so well, to do it for me.

But someone who really knows about spinning recently published a book about it. For those heading out into fiber festivals this season (for example, the Finger Lakes Festival this very weekend), if you think there is a chance you will come home with a spinning wheel (or maybe you have two wheels and a live sheep in the back of your car right now), I have a book for you:


Yarnitecture, by Jillian Moreno.

Jillian has forgotten more about spinning than most people will ever know. She’s funny, thorough and a straight talker. If I ever decide to learn to spin, I will place myself in her capable hands. The book also has twelve knitting patterns that showcase the beauty of handspun yarns, so there’s something for us fantasy league spinners, too.

Spinners, what other resources–books or otherwise–would you recommend to novice spinners?

I’ll leave that question there, and wish everyone a happy weekend.




  • “…even a chenille death spiral of intarsia sounds like fun.” So does root canal.

  • And: “If I ever decide to learn to spin,”…

    What comes up in Related Posts? Let’s see:

    “Barefoot (Spinning) in the Park

    October 1, 2007

    Dear Ann,
    Saturday in the park with Cara was a sweet, sunny, mellow time. Great turnout. Delicious weather. Many wheels. Generous teachers. One stubborn student (me).”

  • Ah, spinning. 3 wheels and countless drop spindles and lovely lush fibers contrive to draw me into more and more spinning and, of course, dying. But, I knit more than I spin. Hands Across the Sea blog today has “Any Time, Any Where” with photos of knitters – some old, and some celebrities. Lots of fun. As for dying – there have been many articles on the Internet in the past several days reporting on the 6000 year old cotton fabric with indigo dyed stripes found in Peru. It predates such fabric from Egypt. The information is from the journal Science Advances. I have grown and dyed with woad, but not indigo. Hmmm, maybe now is the time.

  • Best spinning resources I’ve found are people. Workshops or DVDs by Maggie Casey, Abby Franquemont, Judith MacKenzie. They teach many of the techniques in Jillian’s book (which is totally on my Wish List) and I find it easier to learn by watching someone do in real time, particularly in person.

    • I agree, live instruction is best and hand spindles are inexpensive and portable – a guilt- free way to get into spinning and before you know it you will have made some excellent sock yarn!

  • As a new spinner, YouTube videos of Abby, Rachel Smith of Wool n’ spinning podcast, and Craftsy classes have been very, very helpful.

  • It’s grand fun to knit with yarn you know!

  • Start Spinning by Maggie Casey was my rabbit hole moment (she makes it so easy!!)
    The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCoun is an excellent guide, also.
    The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook is something all knitters and spinners should have (SO.Much.INFO!)

  • Sign me up for the fantasy league.

    North Jersey Fiber Fest in Ridgewood is coming up in a coupla weekends too — just a train ride away Kay! It’s a great warmup for Rhinebeck.

  • Knowing what a devotee of knitting I am, my boss forwarded me some information about spinning classes. Turns out, it was the kind of spinning one does at the gym.

  • It’s an oldie, but a goodie—“Spinning for Softness and Speed” by Paula Simmons. After I read it, my yarn improved exponentially. And spinning isn’t just another hobby—it’s a whole new way of life.

    • That’s what keeps me away from spinning. At age 73, I don’t think I could manage starting over again with a whole new way of life. I’m content to keep my mind (and fingers) active by trying new knitting projects with yarn that someone else has spun for me.

      But for the rest of you spinners out there, go for it!

  • The day I learned to spin, I went from a spinning class (making yarn) to a spinning class (indoor cycling). It was a very confusing day to plan. For beginning spinners, Maggie Casey’s Start Spinning book and video are amazing. If you can catch a class from her, that’s even better.

  • Oh, go on! At Rhinebeck find a beautiful handcrafted spindle, some lovely fiber and buy “Respect the Spindle” by Abby Franquemont.

    • Hey, I was about to mention this book! Since I’m also a fantasy spinner, it’s only fitting that I recommend a book I haven’t read (love the title!) 🙂

  • “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” …. (I think it’s about time you gave in to that voice that keeps calling. What’s not to love about learning to spin? There are new books, tools, equipment and more fiber. Just sayin’)

  • Fantasy league here, too. Get thee behind me, spinning.

  • All of Paula Simmons writings about spinning, fleece, yarn and even raising sheep got a hold on me many years ago…wonderful, plainspoken and a treasure.

  • I love Sarah Anderson’s book,’ The Spinners Book of Yarn Designs’. It is easy to understand, comprehensive, and has cards you can take out and refer to while spinning, without leafing through the book.

  • I was pulled into the new hobby of weaving this summer. Can spinning be far behind?

    • Ahhh…see…that is my thought as well – once I clean up my stash (I know, a fantasy, but happening hopefully this summer), weaving is what I also want to learn to do…although spinning does look cool, but weaving calls me more…

  • Be careful about going down this rabbit hole. If you think you have stash and clutter now, just wait… On the other hand, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met were spinners, dyers, weavers.

  • I saw that book and thought what a treasure-trove it will be for so many people!
    I admire handspun, and love the idea of spinning. Going from Point A to Z – homegrown fiber to handspun, hand-dyed yarn – would suit me right down to the ground. But realistically, I don’t think I’m capable, physically, of those repetitive motions. Maybe if I’d learned earlier. Oh well, I’ve got the hand-dyed part happening, which is a joy! And most days, the knitting is do-able. I’m just SO glad I learned to knit back when my body was made of rubber bands and enthusiasm!

  • Excellent, what a webpage іt is! Tһis webpage providеs valuable informatiоn to us, keeр it up.

  • I’ve found the classes other than the drop spindle class to be very helpful. Start with Foindations of Spinning and do the plying class next. Seeing it is better than just reading about it. I have Jillian Moreno’s new book and its filling in gaps and reinforcing things I’ve learned.

    • Oops.

  • Come to the light, join us in our spinning, we know a joy that others don’t. The ultimate form of relaxation, soother of all maladies, a clearer of all minds, people pay many dollar to gurus, therapists, mindfullness teachers for what we get from spinning. And there is the joy of some very special yarn that comes without any expectations, it can spend the rest of it’s yarny life just being that gorgeous hank of yarn you made. Come on over to our side, the grass really is greener.

  • Oh, I’ve jumped down that rabbit hole. I was lucky enough to take two spinning classes with Maggie Casey. I love spinning and wish I liked knitting less so I could spin more. There’s also a rigid heddle I bought a few years ago patiently calling my name. So many hobbies, so little time!

    • Oh I laughed at this Diane P as this totally describes my own situation!

      I think if you can get someone to teach you in a hands on way that’s great – I have a spinning friend so we did an afternoon at her house – and I used YouTube videos and a book or two (I can’t remember who’s but Maggie Casey does ring a bell)

  • Awesome post.

  • I was given that book for Christmas and can recommend it to any spinner. My spinning has improved after just a couple of weeks !

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