Guest Book Review: Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn
Friend-of-Knitcircus, knitting teacher and handspinner Cindy K takes a new book for a spin (sorry,couldn't resist!):
Author Brenda Gibson brings us The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn, a St. Martin's Griffin book originally published in the UK. Calling anything a complete guide sets reader expectations high, but happily this book really covers a lot and does it well. Each topic is explained step-by-step, usually over two pages, with ample photographs.
Gibson starts by introducing the equipment spinners use: fiber prep gear, spindles, wheels, and yarn management items like niddy noddies and lazy kates. The four-page introduction to fibers covers the major types of animal, plant, and synthetic spinning fibers. The technique chapter and yarn "recipes" really are the heart of the book. She begins with the techniques needed to process raw wool, from scouring to carding or combing, and even covers dyeing. Then it's on to spinning itself, where Gibson gives an introduction to spindle spinning before diving into wheel spinning, plying, and finishing handspun yarns. I got a lot of great ideas from the recipes chapter, which shows numerous examples of handspun yarn. Each recipe shows the unspun fibers used to make the yarn, a strand and skein of the completed yarn, and a swatch knitted from the yarn. So often it's hard to visualize how a particular fiber could be spun up and then how different it may look in the skein and the swatch, so showing all the stages is especially useful.
Next is a project chapter, showing four projects made from handspun, a woven pillow cover, a knit hat and mitten set, a curtain tassel, and a knitted case for a notebook, e-reader, or tablet computer. Gibson finishes up with a "what's next" chapter, discussing spinning yarn to sell and showing a gallery of really pretty yarns and a few garments.
Despite its title, The Complete Guide doesn't have enough space to talk about everything in the yarn-making universe. Bobbin lead and double drive wheels aren't covered. The spindle spinning section covers suspended spinning with a drop spindle; if you need coverage of the park-and-draft method or supported spindles, you'll need to look elsewhere. Plying from spindles is mentioned but needs a page of its own. Don't let that discourage you from taking a look at this book, however. Overall, this is a very good book for beginning spinners, especially those interested in using a spinning wheel, and its technique and recipe sections have lots of ideas for intermediate spinners like myself to explore.
The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn: Techniques, Projects, and Recipes is a large format softcover book, 144 pages, copyright 2011.
Thanks to St. Martins-Griffin/MacMillan for providing this book for us to review!