Review–Respect the Spindle

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It doesn’t seem that long ago that I got this book, but I suppose it’s been a bit over a week, unless I’m mistaken. I’ve had time to soak up the knowledge, try out many of the things in it that I hadn’t yet, and feel like I have a pretty good basis to say my opinion on this book.

Abby Franquemont clearly Knows Her Stuff about spinning, especially spindle spinning. She has a very friendly, interesting writing style, so it’s not a chore to try and read. There’s some excellent sections on history of spindles, and some of the physics. She talks about picking spindles, and there are dozens of beautiful spindles pictured within the pages, with the retailers listed in the back. There’s even a pretty interesting comparison to the wheel, for those who are interested.

There are tons and tons of photographs in this book, and they’re all clear and crisp. You can tell what she’s doing in the photos, and it’s as close to seeing the movement in still frame as you’ll get. Almost every technique she describes in the main text is photographed and captioned step-by-step, which probably is one of my favourite things. She spends an entire chapter explaining the most basic of things for a spinner–drafting, winding on, making that first ball, setting twist. There’s even sections with common problems and way to fix them.

I’ve been spinning for roughly two years now, so while I enjoyed reading that chapter, I found it mostly topical in relation to me. It’s good to see that stuff again and be able to look at it, but for anyone whose been spinning and feels comfortable with it, I imagine it would be similar to for you.

The later chapters of the book deal with more in-depth fine tuning. For me, the section on double drafting was perhaps most interesting–it made the purchase worth it for me, as the technique makes perfect sense to me but I’d never thought of it. Your mileage may vary. The charts and more in-depth discussion of general guidelines for what spindle for what fiber and the type of yarn you’d like to spin are wonderful to have on hand.

There’s a lot of encouragement to try what you want and do things in a way that gets you the results you want–I entirely adore that type attitude. But by the very nature of this–and how changeable everything in spinning is from person to person–I was left vaguely unsatisfied by the more fine-tune spinning chapter. It gave me great ideas, and new ideas for trying out some stuff I haven’t, but mostly I don’t know if I’ll be really using this book for more than the general charts.

There’s also some more discussion about different types of spindles and how to spin with them near the end–all the other basics are described with a top whorl spindle, and photographed as such. She goes into different ways of getting ready to ply, and there’s also some basic spindle quick fix that I found useful. These sections are at the end, and again interesting but not truly in-depth other than how certain spindles are usually spun with.

Something that bothered me, since I’ve been wondering how to work with a bottom whorl, was the fact all the photographs for the introduction to spinning used a top-whorl. The explanation for attaching a leader to a bottom whorl was nonexistent–though it wasn’t hard for me to figure out. The half-hitch was useful, and was shown with a bottom whorl, but otherwise everything focused around the top whorl. Is it that huge a difference? I don’t think so, but it would have been nice to see more bottom whorl spindles featured.

As an introduction to spinning, I’d highly recommend this book. It’s well-done, clear, the directions make sense, and full of interesting facts related to the history of spinning. It’s going to give a good overview and give plenty of food for thought as to where you might like to explore. To the more experienced spindler, I’m not sure. You may find one or two things you’d never thought of or seen before, it may inspire you to try out a new spindle type that you hadn’t. But really, if you’ve been spinning a while, there’s nothing here you probably haven’t seen before, and I don’t know if there’s really enough reference wise to make the purchase worthwhile to you. If you can, give it a look through before you buy it just so you can decide yourself–I don’t regret my purchase, but your mileage may vary.

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