Archive for the “Spin-In” Category

Just before I left for Australia (literally that morning) I got this fabulous DVD by Jacey Boggs of Insubordiknit in the post. I tossed it in my bag and took it with me, mentally adding it to the list of spinny things to do while hanging out with my mum.

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I didn’t really know what to expect, although I’ve seen Jacey’s work around and knew that the content of the DVD would probably not be leaning towards the conservative - I wasn’t wrong! Coils, slubs, beads, loops, foreign objects, you name it, it’s in there. And the DVD production is top quality, with great navigation menus, on-screen tips and plenty of excellent camera angles.

A word about Art Yarns. It really bugs me when people say to beginners “Oh don’t worry - what you’re spinning is Art Yarn - lol!” Saying this about beginner yarn diminishes the incredible skill that someone like Jacey needs to produce the yarns included in this DVD. Watch a short clip and you’ll soon see that these techniques are not something you’ll be an instant expert at. In fact, one of the first things Jacey says is to put down the DVD and come back later if you’re not an experienced spinner. I love that she is honest about the skills required and doesn’t try to either mislead people about the content, or dumb down the techniques for the less experienced. With so much around now for beginner spinners, it’s refreshing to find something that’s really aimed at the more advanced.

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Each set of techniques is grouped in the DVD and nicely organised so they build on each other. So, later down the line when doing coils, you might be using a technique you learnt back in segment one. For the first watching at least, I’d definitely recommend sitting through the whole DVD in order to get a sense of all the different skills, then gather your materials and have a go at the ones that appeal to you most.

Racing Stripes

Jacey speaks clearly, and not too fast, explaining the techniques, wheel set-up and materials very clearly. At the same time, dot points pop up on the screen to help the core skills sink in. She repeats each technique several times, with a close-up camera angle, and you can even set the DVD to loop the clip over and over for each technique. The instructions were so clear and memorable that Mum and I were able to try out some of the techniques the next day before watching a second time, although we did ask each other a lot of questions!

Cocoons

Jacey has two friends with her in the DVD, working on the same techniques but including some modifications which were interesting to learn about. For example, one of the spinners had a small oriface and Jacey pointed out several times the modifactions needed for a particular technique in this case. I was disappointed, however, that we didn’t really get to see much of the other spinners working. At least a couple of times, Jacey mentions what one of the others is doing, but we don’t get a chance to see it close-up and compare to the main yarn. I also found myself wondering several times which wheel direction was used. From watching closely, it appears that Jacey uses the standard spin-z ply-s convention, but in a few places I would feel more comfortable with a confirmation on this, especially where plying singles with threads etc.

Coils

Overall, I strongly encourage any spinner looking for some new learning to get this DVD. The bright, funky yarns may not be to your personal taste (and you all know that I am definitely Miss Conservative when it comes to handspun), but even if you don’t see yourself creating yarn with halos or eyeballs, look beyond that to the fantastic techniques that are covered. There are definitely yarns in there that I will spin, and there are loads and loads of techniques which are applicable in other yarn types and which I am now really keen to master.

Thanks Jacey for a great resource! Learn more at www.insubordiknit.com

(Photos from top: cocoons by Mum, racing stripes by Mum, cocoons by me, beehive coils by me. Please note, these are our first attempts!!)

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I was hoping to review a new book today for you, but RM didn’t deliver on time I’m afraid, so it’ll be next week’s post. Instead, I thought I’d share my workspace at home.

I snapped this picture a week or so ago after a particularly messy day, the kind of day where you rush from one thing to the next, digging through boxes and dragging out stuff you forgot you had to spin a couple of yards. I can hear you giggling - but yes, I do tidy up each night before Neil gets home.

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The window is the focus of the room, it faces southish and there’s loads of light. The stool behind the spinning wheel is where I do almost all of my photos, and you can just see the sheets of white card standing there that I use to reflect the light back for a shot. In the corner behind my spinning chair is a standard lamp for the evenings - not as good as natural light, but still adequate. If I’m knitting, I’ll sit at the window end of the sofa to make the most of the light as well.

It doesn’t make for the tidiest room, but I really like everything to be where I can get at it. The bookshelf behind my spinning chair holds equipment: lazy kate, charkha, spare bobbins, maintenance tools, prep tools etc. There’s boxes of buttons and sewing kits and knitting needles. On top of the bookcase are baskets with ‘current’ (ish) spindle projects in them. The bookcase used to also hold all my craft books, but it was overflowing and they were very hard to get to, so I have a new bookcase now which you can’t see, it holds all the books and baskets full of handpainted fibre. On top of the bookcase are neatly stacked 10 11litre plastic boxes full of yarn, and jars full of spindles stand next to the books.

The black suitcase under my desk holds the undyed fibres, bulk lots of BFL, alpaca fleeces from the farm, other class supplies. It’s amazing what you can squash into a huge suitcase! Also under the desk are a couple of project bags with wips in them. The little boxes on either side of the TV hold the overflow, one’s full of cotton, one has dyed mohair, another has silk supplies for the luxury fibres class. Spin-Off magazines live on the shelves under the TV, also easily accessible and they like to lie flat.

The latest addition to the room is the basket by my wheel. I bought it at a country fair last year and I absolutely love it! It’s the dumping ground for anything in the categories ‘working on at the moment’ or ‘hoping to get to this very soon’. At the moment (I cleaned it out a bit) it holds the yarn and pattern for the current Sock(topus) Club socks; a couple of balls of handspun which I am thinking of knitting something with, but probably should put away; the second half of the gold silk that I’m spinning for the next Spin! series - it’s been languishing there for ages while I get distracted by other stuff; the next fibre for the SoFA fibre club, and also, an odd sock and its yarn - never going to be finished I’m fairly sure!

Last but not least, my loom lives under the coffee table. You can’t really see it, but it’s behind the box, which stores all the bits and pieces that I need for weaving. I’m standing at Neil’s desk to take this photo - it’s his only corner of the room, poor guy. But he doesn’t really seem to mind. Luckily, we have a separate eat-in kitchen (not common in a 1 bed flat) because there’s really not much more to the living space than you can see here!

So what’s your space like? Do you take over everything like me? Or pack yourself neatly into a little corner :-D I’m pretty sure Neil secretly longs for the days when I had a whole other room upstairs away from him…

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Part 2: Angora

Angora Rabbits, like the goats of the same name, originated in Turkey near Ankara, the city for which they are named. They are large and docile and extremely popular as pets, as well as being the source of a luxurious silky fibre. It is said that they were a favourite of French royalty in the 18th century, and frankly, who wouldn’t want one of these funny-faced fluff-balls around?

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Harvesting
Depending on the breed, Angora hair can be either shorn or plucked, usually four times per year. During this time the coat of some breeds can grow up to 4 inches in length. Naturally shedding fur is gently combed or plucked from the coat, leaving behind any longer guard hairs which may be present. Some breeds, including the German angora, need to be shorn, and this also occurs four times per year. Angora fur is very clean and doesn’t usually need any other preparation before spinning, in fact, it is very common at fibre festivals to see a spinner with a bunny on her lap – spinning straight from handfuls of the coat (pluckable only I hope!).

Fibre Characteristics
Angora is soft, smooth and silky, and depending on the breed, can vary in length from around 1 – 4 inches. It is very light and fine, usually around 13-15 microns, and is quite inelastic. Much of the finest Angora is very short and slippery and it is often blended with other fibres to make it easier to spin. Angora is also incredibly warm, eight times warmer than wool, meaning that even a small amount will add a lovely warmth and halo to a blended yarn. Use a larger size needle than usual for knitted garments to allow space for the halo to develop.

Varieties
There are many breeds of Angora rabbits. The American Rabbit Breeders’ Association recognises four main ones: English, French, Giant and Satin, which also have many varieties within the breed, each with differing characteristics. The English and French breeds are very common. Also very popular, but with its own association is the German Angora, like Billy pictured above. German Angora is generally not quite as fine as the French or English, and is shorn rather than plucked. There is also an Asian breed, which accounts for a growing commercial industry in Nepal and surrounding regions.

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The three samples above are (clockwise) clipped German Angora, sent to me by Billy’s owner, Heidi Kim; plucked grey Angora, I picked this up in Australia and don’t know the origin, but it is quite different to the other two; plucked English angora, from a local fibre retailer.

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When looking at the individual locks, it is easy to see the remarkable differences between each one (top: German; left: English; right: grey).

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Heidi also sent me this gorgeous skein of handspun Angora yarn, pop over to her blog for more pics of her bunnies and say hello from me!

Do you have questions? What are your experiences with Angora – like it? Love it? Leave a comment or come by the Lingr chatroom on Sunday evenings.

Sources/further reading
Albright, Barbara. “The Natural Knitter? Potter Craft 2007
Field, Anne. “The Ashford Book of Spinning? Shoal Bay Press, revised 1999
Wikipedia.org “Angora Rabbit?
http://www.arba.net/ American Rabbit Breeders’ Association
http://www.himalayan-healthcare.org/
http://hifeed.org/angora_2.html

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I can’t claim the credit for this idea, I learnt it from my lazy kate, but it’s become my favourite method so I thought I’d share.

When I teach my brand-new spinners how to ply their very first yarn, we use a ball-winder to create a centre-pull ball. This is fine for that first yarn which is not long and usually pretty thick and lumpy. But finer yarn, fuzzy fibres and high twist can all cause disasters in a centre-pull ball so we soon move on to this more reliable method.

Once your spindle cop is all wound on you have to decide what to do with. Perhaps you’re happy to andean-ply it on itself, or wind it off onto a holder of some sort while you spin a second singles. Winding off is crazy boring though, and there is a much better way.

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Find a straw - not any old drinking straw, it needs to be a bit fatter and a bit stronger. Fast food ones work well, and the ones you get with bubble tea are fab. The straw needs to be thinner than your spindle shaft but not too much thinner. The straws shown came with my Katie-a-go-go as part of the kit.

Set the end of your spindle shaft in the top of the straw and start sliding the cop down. This will be scary. The important thing to remember is, do not squeeze. If you squeeze the cop, you will squash it onto the top edge of the straw and the strands of yarn will get caught up. As long as the straw is thinner and you don’t squeeze it will slide right on. Do practice with some un-loved yarn first.

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Once your cop is on the straw, give it a good squeeze so that now the middle collapses slightly and it won’t slide off again. Your spindle is now free for the second cop, or third, or however many plies you want to do (I’m actually doing six cops, then will be 2-plying them all in a row. Must drink more bubble tea).

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When you’re ready to ply, simply slip the straws with the cops on them over the rods of your lazy kate. A yarn guide next to them is helpful, you definitely don’t want the yarn spiralling upwards off the straws as it could tangle or pull them off the rods.

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You don’t need a fancy lazy kate for this method, my doctored shoebox works equally well, although is a little less convenient to carry around. NB: I just noticed that the straws don’t show much in this picture, but the cops are still on the straws and they slide onto the kebab sticks.

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If your spindle has a bit of fancy carving at the end, be aware that this will catch the strands of yarn. It is simple to overcome though, just wind a little piece of tape around the carving and slide the yarn over that, then take the tape off again straight away or it might leave residue on your spindle. It’s very unlikely that the carved area will actually be thicker than the shaft, but in this case the method won’t work on that particular spindle. I love the Bosworth spindles - they have a perfect tapered end. I had my class spindles made that way too for this very reason.

And yes, of course, if you are of the thinking-ahead persuasion, you can dress your spindle shaft with a layer of paper before you start spinning and then simply and safely slide that off at the end. But really, who is ever that organised!

Have fun spinning today, I’ll catch you on Lingr tonight between 8 and 10.

x

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A common question that new spinners ask me is “What else do I need to be able to spin?” If you are spinnng, you already have a spindle or wheel, and some fibre, and this is really all you need - the bare essentials, and you can spin happily for years without getting anything else. But there is also a load of other equipment out there that could make your spinning experience more varied, more enjoyable, or a faster process. Today I’ll give you a run-down of some spinning tools and accessories, and explain briefly what they are used for.

Carders or Hand-cards
This is often one of the first extra pieces of equipment that a new spinner buys. Carders are oblong pieces of wood with a handle, and are covered on one side with carding cloth, which has little steel teeth that trap the fibres. They are used as a pair and can be flat-backed or curved. Carded fibres are rolled up into rolags and are used to spin woolen yarns, or can be rolled so the fibres are parallel to spin a semi-worsted yarn.

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Carders are almost essential if you are working with unprocessed fleece (it is possible to spin a good fleece without them if you tease the locks out with your fingers), and are very handy for blending fibres together. They come in a couple of different sizes - it’s best to get the larger ones as the size of the carders limits the length of the fibre you can use them with. Carders are also available in range of grades - finer fibres call for finer, more closely-set teeth.

Flick-carder
A flick-carder is used on its own and is much smaller than a carder, and covered with a similar carding cloth. It is used to open out fibres in a lock of wool, this can then be carded more easily, or spun directly from the opened-out lock. There is a great article on flick-carders in the Summer 2008 issue of Spin-Off. A dog comb, not to be confused with wool combs (below), is another handy tool which can be used to the same purpose as a flick carder.

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Drum Carder
A drum carder is essentially a much larger version of a pair of hand cards, having two or more cylindrical barrels covered in carding cloth. It does the same job, but much more quickly, and produces large batts of airy, carded fibre. Visit Vampy’s blog for some fantastic tutorials on drum carding.

Wool Combs
These murderous-looking tools are used to produce combed top for true worsted spinning. They consist of a wooden base and handle, with one or more rows of long, sharp tines at a right angle. They are used in pairs, often with one clamped to a table. (The combs in this picture are of the smallest size, with only one row of tines.)

Combing 2

They are lovely for long fibres, and the resulting prep is fabulous to spin, although takes a bit more work than carding or flicking. Wool combs are often used in conjunction with a diz, a small concave tool with a hole in it through which the fibres are drawn off to create a continous length of combed top.

Hackle
A hackle is built with tines like those on wool combs, but is much wider. It is used for blending fibres, which can be drawn off with a diz into combed top. You can see a hackle being used to blend colours and fibres in this video. Hackling is also an essential part of the process in preparing flax for spinning. The flax fibres are drawn through the hackle many times to soften and separate them, and to strip away any woody bark.

Flax Mill

Niddy Noddy
All handspun yarn will benefit from being wound into a skein and finished with steam or a nice bath. You can wind skeins around chairlegs, your arms or a large box, but it is quite a lot easier with a niddy noddy. Two arms sit perpendicular to each other and are joined by a shaft in the middle. The yarn is wound up and down over the arms in a long loop. A mini niddy noddy is handy for sample skeins.

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Lazy Kate
Many wheels come with a Lazy Kate, somtimes built in as part of the wheel. The construction varies, all you need is rods to hold your bobbins or spindle cops, fixed to some sort of base. You can quickly improvise a Lazy Kate from a shoe-box and knitting needles, or there is a huge choice available to buy.

Tensioned Lazy Kates are very popular - they are fitted with a band (similar to a scotch tension band) which goes around the bobbins and attaches to an adjustable knob. Tensioning the bobbins stops them from free-spinning when you pull the singles off as you ply. This can lead to tangles in the singles or uneven plying.

Distaff
Distaff attachments are available for several models of spinning wheels, and can also be free-standing. The distaff is a post to which the fibre mass is attached, making it easy to draw off fibres as you spin. It is necessary when using extremely long fibres such as flax, and is also handy if you have a large, unmanageable mass of any fibre. Spindle spinners sometimes use small distaffs either hanging from the wrist or stuck into the belt, keeping the fibre tidy should they need to walk around while spinning.

double flyer spin wheel

- - - -

Anything I’ve forgotten? I’ll add more if I think of things, or feel free to request!

Please come by Lingr tonight for a chat - I’m not sure when I’ll be around, but definitely by 8.30 and most probably earlier.

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Being a bit of a natural fibre junkie, I was thrilled to learn that 2009 would be a year dedicated to promoting them. This series of articles will cover twelve natural fibres over the year, I hope you enjoy them! Read more about the International Year of Natural Fibres at http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/.

Part One: Wool

Wool is the general term for the hair grown by sheep. For millennia, it has been a prized natural fibre, although nowadays it accounts for only around 5% of the world’s fibre consumption. Fragments of wool fabric up to 6000 years old have been found in Egypt and Europe, and historical records emphasise the value of wool as a trading commodity across Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. No doubt these ancient spinners and weavers enjoyed wool for much the same reasons that we do now. A soft, light, readily-renewable fibre, it is warm when wet, fire resistant and takes dye colour beautifully. It has huge variety in type allowing for a multitude of uses and is pleasant to work with. What’s not to like!

Sheep

Harvesting
Although some primitive breeds still shed their fleece in clumps, in general the wool is clipped off with shears on a regular basis, usually once per year. The protective lanolin in the fleece is washed out and the fibres are carded or combed to prepare them for spinning. The first fleece a lamb produces (called a hogg, or hoggit fleece) is often particularly fine in quality, but subsequent fleeces do not vary remarkably; the grade of fleece from a particular animal will continue to be of similar quality until old age. Thus, if you happen across an extra good fleece, and you know the animal it came from, it is worth keeping the information ready for next year’s shearing time.

Structure
Wool is a protein fibre and comprises an outer sheath and inner cortex. Covering the sheath, or cuticle is a thin layer of overlapping scales. These scales enable the fibre to matt and felt, creating dense, warm cloth, and they are in most cases what people with wool sensitivities are reacting to. Superwash wools have been treated to either smooth or remove these scales; treated wool can feel less ‘prickly’ and is much harder to felt.

Fibre Characteristics
The main characteristics that set wool apart from other hair fibres are its crimp and elasticity. Wool fibres are very strong, even when wet, and can stretch up to another two thirds in length and still return to the original state. This and the natural crimp in the fibres help to create yarn which is soft, lofty and springy. These characteristics, along with the slightly textured surface of the fibres due to the scale structure, make wool an easy fibre to spin as it readily clings to itself to form yarn.

Varieties
Different breeds of sheep can live in widely varying climates and are farmed all over the world. As a hand-spinner or knitter, you will probably have come across many different types of wool. A huge variety of breeds of sheep produce an enormous choice of wools, from the finest Merino right up to the coarse rug wools. A fine Merino may have a micron* measurement of 18, and Bradford Count of 80; a Wensleydale fleece may have a micron of 32, or a BC of around 50. In general, fine wools are shorter and more suited to next-to-skin garments, but are less durable, coarse wools will generally be longer in staple, and will have the durability needed for upholstery fabrics or outer garments. (Below: Polwarth – a fine wool, and English Leicester – longwool).

Polwarth

Leicester

Wool is by far my favourite of all natural fibres. I love its character, the ease of spinning and the way it feels in a knitted or woven garment. It may also have something to do with the little bit of sheep I have in my blood, but whatever the reason, it will almost always be my first choice when I’m looking for something to spin.

Tulips BFL

Do you have questions? What are your experiences with wool – like it? Love it? Leave a comment or come by the Lingr chatroom on Sunday evenings.

Sources/further reading
Fournier and Fournier, “In Sheep’s Clothing? Interweave Press, 1995.
Wayland Barber, E., “Women’s Work? Norton, 1994.
Wikipedia - Wool

* The fineness of fibre is measured in two ways: with a micron measurement – determining the exact diameter of the individual fibre, or with the Bradford Count – a measurement based on the amount of yarn that can be spun from an ounce of fibre.

Comments 6 Comments »

A variation on the Spin-In, here I’ll be documenting progress on my first major handspun project. I’ve spun large amounts before, but only for lace where gauge doesn’t really matter.

This weekend I started sampling for the Deev-V Argyle by Eunny Jang. Being a colourwork project, it’s important that the gauge is correct as I won’t be able to easily tweak the pattern, it’s also very fitted so doesn’t leave much room for alterations in finished size. Therefore, I’m doing something I’ve never really done before - which is to spin samples for swatches before embarking on the whole project.

The pattern calls for a DK yarn, gauge 22sts/4inches in colourwork. I started spinning, aiming for a yarn with a wpi of around 12. I’m not doing a lot to the yarn in the finishing process (colourwork yarn doesn’t need to be bouncy) so there shouldn’t be much change in the wpi after finishing.

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To check finished wpi while you’re spinning, pull back a good length of yarn from the bobbin and double it over, letting it twist back on itself. You can measure the wpi and then untwist the yarn and keep spinning.

I spun and plied a sample of each colour at 12 wpi and then finished them by soaking in warm water and Eucalan, snapping a few times to distribute twist and then hung them to dry. I didn’t abuse the skeins at all as this will add loft, something I don’t really need in this yarn. The fibres (BFL and Shetland), in fact have plenty of natural loft already and the yarn is nice and springy but will still lie flat in the stranded pattern.

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The recommended needle is 3.5mm but I know I tend to knit colourwork fairly tightly, so I started with a 3.75mm, knitting the swatches ‘in the round’ by taking the yarns across the back in long floats at the end of each row. I got a gauge of 27sts on this needle so switched to a 4mm.

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The second swatch still has a gauge of 25.5sts so I am faced with having to spin more yarn for a second sample. I preferred the feel of the fabric on the 3.75mm, so I definitely don’t want to go up any more needle sizes.

Next: I’ll be spinning more samples at 11wpi. As I don’t have a great deal of extra dyed fibre to play with I may have to consider adjusting the pattern a little if I don’t get gauge with the second batch. It would be terrible to run out on the last little bit of neckband!

Comments 4 Comments »

Not a proper Spin-In today, I’ve been resisting but have finally given in and I’m thoroughly in Holiday Mode. Proper spinning talk will resume on Jan 4. But, I thought I’d share some of the things I have in mind for next year, and invite your input. Not only for Spin-In, but the upcoming Spin! Series 2 as well.

Something I’m really excited about - next year is The International Year of Natural Fibres, read more here. I’ve always been a big supporter of the natural, and I’m really glad this is happening. As part of the Spin-In, I’m going to be presenting a Natural Fibres series, once a month presenting a different fibre with background notes, uses and project ideas. When I started tossing around this idea I thought it would be tricky finding enough - but you’d be surprised! I’m including some fibres on the list that I’ve never spun before so I’m pretty excited about getting to work with those.

Spin! will also be natural fibre based next year, in fact, I’m going to try and exclude man-made as much as I possibly can for the year in my writing and teaching. I’ve started work on the next series, and am happy to be using fibres from some great indie dyers local to me. Look out for previews and patterns before winter’s over!

This all leaves plenty of room for adjustments however, and I’m very happy to have your ideas. Is there anything you’d particularly like to see in Spin! Series 2? in the IYNF Series posts, or another Spin-In? I’ve got 50 posts to play with after all!

Leave a comment, or pop by tonight on Lingr for a chat. I will be there from 5-10pm (ish).

Lastly, please make sure you drop by the blog on Tuesday to collect your Christmas present from me!

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Last week we had a really fun class on spinning fat, squidgy singles yarn. (It’s running again in February if you missed out this time, btw). Part of the success of a singles yarn is in the spinning technique, but the real magic is in the finishing.

Remember the whole sleeping-twist thing? The often-bruited advice for achieving non-twisty singles for knitting with is to soak the skein and hang it with a weight to dry. Sadly, although this works in the short term, all it really does is to block the yarn, not permanently set it straight (so to speak).

To finish a singles, it’s best to properly full it a little. Afterwards, it will twist up very little and you can knit with it knowing that your fabric won’t skew sideways. To do this, tie up the skein securely in four places and plunge it into hot soapy water - as hot as your hand can bear. Take it out, squeeze, and plunge into cold. Repeat. Squeeze, and you’ll see that the surface of the yarn has changed - it will be looking a bit fuzzed and felty. give it a good whacking on your work surface or against a door and by now, it should be hanging pretty much in an open loop.

So, on Saturday, we spun, and then we soaked, and shocked and whacked and generally had a ball :-D You can see Alice’s singles in her Morning Surf in progess here, and check out the great smooshy singles spun by Ali:

Ali's singles

Don’t forget, there’s a load of scheduled classes in January and February, including a repeat of the singles class. Check out all the details here.

Not sure if I’ll be on Lingr this weekend, I’m hanging out in the Schnee with Kai (woot!) so we might pop on, or we might be knitting by the fire. But that needn’t stop you guys!

Comments 3 Comments »

People often ask me to recommend books, and I generally hand out a list with class notes as well. Some of my books are copies I keep particularly to have on hand to show beginners, but there are hardly any that I don’t pick up and refer to at least occasionally, and some that I really couldn’t live without.

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I bought Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts when I got heavily back into spinning a couple of years ago. It’s still one of my favourite reference books, although it is aimed only at the spindle-spinner. Recently, we have added Maggie Casey’s Start Spinning to the list for beginners and I think it’s fantastic.

For information on creating different types of yarns, e.g. slub/boucle/coil/blended/etc… Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney is great. (This is the book Yoshimi and I used in our experimentation day). The layout isn’t very intuitive, but it’s packed with information and well worth picking up of you see a copy. Creative Spinning by Alison Daykin also has info about creating unusual yarns, but this is very much more an ‘art’ book; good for inspiration and full of gorgeous pictures.

My ultimate favourite - if I had to keep just one spinning book, would be In Sheep’s Clothing by Nola Fournier and Jane Fournier. There are chapters on choosing, washing, blending, spinning fleece, etc., but the bulk of the content is a definitive guide to all the different sheep breeds and their fleece types. You can look up anything you like and find out staple length, lustre, likelihood of felting, and where the sheep are found. Dry and geeky perhaps - but I love it!

Until lately, when spinning exploded into popularity again, there was very little out there for the intermediate to advanced spinner. I’m very excited about two new books soon to appear on the market: Spin Control by Amy King, and The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin are on my wishlist and I am waiting very impatiently for them to be released.

These are not all the books on my shelf, and certainly not all the ones on my wishlist! But if you’re shopping around for titles, or want to leave some hints for the family this festive season then you could call this my ‘Top 7′ I guess :-D

What’s on your bookshelf??

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