It seems like every knitter at one time or another has a dream of the perfect yarn -- just the right feel, the ideal thickness, your favorite color. Of course there's a way to make that dream a reality: by spinning your own yarn.
Maggie Casey's Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn provides a good grounding in how to spin, even for knitters or weavers who haven't touched a drop spindle before.
Getting Started with a Spindle
The book is made up of relatively brief chapters on different aspects of learning to spin. It starts out by suggesting that new spinners should work with wool, since it's a little easier to work with than other fibers.
Casey explains the different ways you might find wool for purchase (batts, roving, combed top, etc.) and explains how to pre-draft the fiber for use with a drop spindle or on a wheel.
The book then goes over the different kinds of drop spindles, what you should look for in your first spindle, and how to spin yarn with one. There are lots of pictures that would make it possible for someone who has never spun before to easily figure out what to do.
Casey reminds new spinners here and throughout the book that spinning nice yarn takes practice, so expect to keep this book by your side as you work.
The bulk of the book has to do with spinning wheels, the parts of a wheel and how different styles work, how to practice with the wheel before you start making yarn, and finally how to spin using a wheel.
Again there are a lot of pictures, tips and explanations for how to get the best yarn out of your wheel. While you'll want to have tried out your wheel (and probably several others) before you buy, the book will offer a refresher on how to set up the wheel that probably makes more sense than the instructions that came with your wheel.
Two more chapters deal with plying yarn (either using a drop spindle or a wheel) and finishing the yarn so you can knit with it. Then there's information on determining the weight, gauge and yardage of the yarn you've made, choosing patterns to work with your yarn, and an in-depth section on drafting.
The book ends with a detailed appendix on the different types of sheep and the characteristics of their fiber, what to look for in a fleece and how to wash, tease, card and comb the fibers to get them ready for spinning. There's also an appendix on spinning wheel maintenance.
This book is an ideal choice for new spinners who have not been exposed to the basics. A chapter on working with fibers other than wool might have been nice, but new spinners will get plenty of practice just working with wool. The book is sure to inspire people who've never tried spinning before to pick up a drop spindle and see what happens.
Publication date: April 2008.