I'm learning to spin, what books should I read?

By Amelia © July 20, 2010

I had the great good fortune this summer to add a title to my name I have always wanted: college professor. Cool! No, I don't have a doctorate. So perhaps it's not an accurate title. But, I am now teaching continuing education/community education classes for our local community college, Peninsula College.

The first class was Hand Spinning Yarn. The class learned to spin on spindles, skein and finish yarn, scour fleece, hand card, drum card, spin on wheels, hand comb, and the use of handspun in knitting, crochet, and weaving. One of the questions they asked was for some recommended reading, so they could continue with their studies as they continued developing their skills once our sessions ended.

This is an excerpt from the email I sent them ...

Here is a list of suggested reading (or viewing) for learning to spin.

For spindling, here are my three favorites:

Productive Spindling, by me (Amelia Garripoli).

Respect the Spindle, by Abby Franquemont.

Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert, by Connie Delaney.

There are some useful videos on www.joyofhandspinning.com and www.icanspin.com, as well as Abby's two part tutorial on youtube.com

For wheel spinning, my two favorite learn to spin books are:

Hands on Spinning, by Lee Raven -- this also has an excellent description of hand carding.

Start Spinning, by Maggie Casey -- a more recent book, very well written.

And for those who prefer videos, my favorite is Patsy Zawistoski's
Spinning Wool - Basics & Beyond.

For drum carding, my two favorites are:

The Ashford Book of Carding, by Jo Reeve, though specific to their
equipment, it is generally applicable.

Color in Spinning, by Deb Menz covers far more with dyeing, blending,
and creating colorways on drum carders and more.

For combing, which we'll cover in our fourth class, my two favorites are:
Combs Combs Combs by Susan McFarland, though out of print is worth the material.

Hand Woolcombing and Spinning, by Peter Teal, though not an introductory text, is the most thorough discussion on the topic of
worsted spinning.

Once you've had fun learning to spin and are ready to explore more,
books on yarn construction may appeal to you.

Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners, by Mabel Ross goes out of print quickly, and is a bit dry, but my favorite on the topic of yarn design.

Spinning Designer Yarns, by Diane Varney discusses a variety of yarn
constructions as well as dyeing handspun yarn.

Spin Control, by Amy King steps through a variety of styles of spinning and methods of yarn construction.

A great second-step to your spinning is also wheel control, for that I can recommend The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin as well as her DVD-set Popular Wheel Mechanics.

If you want a thorough discussion of all things spinning in one tome, The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning will bury you in footnotes while discussing everything from fiber preparations to the style of groove on your wheel's flyer. Though at first I found his book overwhelming, I now find myself turning to it to look for good discussions on many of the "why"s of spinning.

(end of excerpt)

I'm having a lot of fun in my new role, the wet-felted scarf class was a real hoot too. The fall semester will include Needlefelt Art, Etsy/Artfire Online Selling, Yarn Dyeing, and a repeat of Hand Spinning Yarn, in addition to workshops being offered at the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival 2010, the first weekend of October: Plying New Yarns, Spinning Wheel Mechanics, and Making a Braided Rug. If any of them are of interest to you, the best way to register is by calling 1.877.452.9277, after September 1.


As I write this post, two of the books on the list above are out of print (Mabel Ross' Designing Yarn for Hand Spinners, and Susan McFarland's Combs Combs Combs). For help locating copies, see this post:
Where Can I Find Out-of-Print Fiber Art Books?

Also, if there's an out of print book you would really enjoy having, besides looking for it second-hand, consider contacting the publisher -- how else are they going to realize they should consider reprinting it?


© July 20, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog


Sarah said...

Congratulations on teaching at Peninsula College! That's a great list of suggested materials. Opportunities for spinning classes are very rare for me, so the books and videos have been very important to me.

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I agree with your book list! It is nice to have it all in one spot.

Dorothy said...

You do right to recommend your own book!! I've included it in a review of books for new spindle spinners going in the first edition of YarnMaker.

sahara said...

Congratulations! Wow, I'm undone! I got Allen Fannin's book years ago when I worked at School Products. I acutally saw him in person.

I'm a book fiend. I have pretty much most of the books in the pile. Thanks for recommending Peter Teal's book and Combs Combs Combs. In NYC where a class is rare, books and youtube has been a blessing! I have 5 lbs of Romney I'm scared to comb. I'll get the books first.

Natalie Rush said...

great list!! Thanks!!