Spinning Books

Andrea asked, "what’s your favorite spinning book out there?"

Oh gosh,  in my opinion, this is such a difficult question to answer.  I’ve looked over almost every one that I could get my hands on and each has good information depending on what you’re looking to learn.

I’m blessed with two wonderful library systems, perhaps you also have a good one in your area so check your library first. Most of the time I check out spinning and knitting books before I buy them. You might also want to check around to see if you have a guild or spinning association in your area that has a library. I’m a member of NWRSA which has a wonderful library.

I do own quite a few spinning books and almost every issue of Spin Off magazine. So with that being said, it’s my opinion that the perfect spinning book hasn’t been written.  I think Rita Buchanan could write the perfect book, but she’s happily retired and isn’t interested.

My favorite spinning book is "High Whorling" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, but I think many folks wouldn’t peg it as their top pick. I say this because the book is mostly about spindle spinning and thus doesn’t include any wheel specific tips. Besides it’s lack of wheel spinning information, it doesn’t have any photos –  just line drawings done by  the author.  This book  does, however, have a lot of wonder information about fibers, fiber preparation, spinning techniques, explanations about twist, plying and finishing yarn that apply to both spindle and wheel spinning.  I mostly appreciate PGR’s thoughtful and precise descriptions of each step in spinning process. I’d like to add that this was the first spinning book that I purchase, mostly because I love her book "Ethnic Sock & Stockings" and also was only intending on spinning with a spindle.

After I purchased a wheel I picked up "The Spinner’s Companion" by Bobbie Irwin, thinking it might fill in the gaps that High Whorling couldn’t fill. While it’s a decent quick reference, it left me looking at other books. So, I then looked at Alden Amos’ Big Book but thought it had too much information on woodworking. Although it might be a good book, it just didn’t appeal to me – at least not enough to want to add it to my library. One of my local libraries has it, so I can check it out of the library if need be.

The next spinning book that I purchased was "Spinning Wool Beyond the Basics" by Anne Field. The book is split into four parts; Wool, Spinning Wheels, Yarn Design and Projects. While she sufficiently covers all the various aspects of the spinning process, her explanations also includes many excellent photos (even ones of various wool locks).  This is what I especially like about this book and probably the one I would recommend the most – especially to ambitious beginning spinners.

I’ve read  several other books – "Spinning in Color", "Hand Woolcombing and Spinning", "Spinning Designer Yarns" and "Essentials of Yarn Design".  These are all geared toward certain aspects of spinning or are very technical so I wouldn’t recommend them for your first purchase, unless of course you think they might appeal to you more than any others.

Oh, I almost forgot; I don’t have "Hands on Spinning" and didn’t purchase it because I already have "Spin It".


One thought on “Spinning Books

  1. thanks for such a thorough response, i really appreciate it.
    unfortunately the l.a. public library, normally an excellent library system, has only a handful of books on spinning, amazingly, but i’m pretty sure i can borrow some copies from the various guilds in the area.
    i’ve seen the gibson-roberts book and was tempted to buy it – i’ve really enjoyed what i’ve read so far of her “knitting in the old way”, the writing is thoughtul and direct. the field book also sounds perfect – i’ve been tempted to get her “ashford book of spinning” but i think i’ll skip that and go right to her other book.
    i have “spin it” and, happily, the internet with all it’s spinning videos ;), so i’m hoping i don’t need any other really beginner books. really, i’m just chomping at the bit, wanting to dive in to the world of spinning! thanks again.


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