Guest Book Review: The Intentional Spinner
Knitting teacher and frequent Knitcircus contributor Cindy K is one of our best connections to the world of spinning. She kindly agreed to give us her take on Interweave's release of The Intentional Spinner, by Judy MacKenzie McCuin, with an instructional DVD included.
Judith MacKenzie McCuin is well-known in the spinning community from her many pieces in Spin-Off magazine. Her technical articles are detailed yet approachable, and always inspiring. Her 2008 book The Intentional Spinner is like getting a bunch of workshops with her crammed into a book. It’s well worth the cover price ($29.95 with DVD, $26.95 without; softcover, 152 pages). The book covers a lot of ground: everything you need to know about plant, animal, and manufactured fibers; drafting methods for spinning; plying, cabled yarns, and novelty yarns; and yarn design. Four projects round out the book and show how to apply the techniques covered. An appendix covers caring for your handspun textiles.
It’s not a learn-to-spin book (try Maggie Casey’s book Start Spinning for that) but the type of book you’ll keep returning to again. Happily, even novice spinners can benefit from the sections on fiber & drafting, and advanced beginners and more experienced spinners will find something fun to try in this book. Having had only a few lessons in spinning and then just happily muddling about on my own, I’ve learned a huge amount from this book. It’s got lots of clear photographs and two very helpful spinning charts (one teaching worsted and woolen drafting and the other a flowchart on how to adjust your wheel to get different yarn diameters). Maybe 2011 will be the year I spin yarn for handknit socks using the techniques and pattern in this book.
Now for the bonus DVD: it’s not meant to be an exact video version of the book, but is composed of relevant segments from Ms. McCuin’s Interweave DVDs on plying and wheel mechanics (if you already own those, there’s no new ground on this DVD, but don’t miss out on the book). What I learned about plying in the first five minutes of the DVD will totally change my plying technique forever and made me feel like I don’t need to improvise a tensioned kate to control my singles. The DVD segments include: plying, cabled yarns, novelty yarns, diameter control, and finishing. In the plying segment, it’s a little hard to distinguish the various white singles from each other, but elsewhere in the video, different colored singles are used to make it easier to see what’s happening.
Interweave has put out a lot of great spinning books in the last few years. The Intentional Spinner has a lot to offer spinners wanting to make their yarns more consistent, more like what they envision, or just more fun. The book has lots of technical information that will help you take your spinning wherever you want it to go. Should you get it with or without the DVD? Decide based on whether you already own the other DVDs, but in any case, you won’t want to pass by this book.
Thanks so much, Cindy! Spin on…
ETA: Took out the reference to the finishing section as noted by Cindy below.