8 More Handspinning Tips from 40 Years of Spin Off

We wrap up our top 40 handspinning tips from the pages of Spin Off with a “catch-all” category. Although memorable and thought-provoking, these pearls of wisdom defy any neat and tidy grouping. Here are the final 8 handspinning tips in no particular order. (Please, don’t ask us to rank them.) Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks & Opinionated Advice

“It is absolutely essential to put your handspinning to use, as this is the best way to discover its faults or weaknesses. You can improve your spinning skill much more readily by this method than by looking at the yarn on the bobbin or in a skein . . . Thus all your spinning should be devoted to project spinning.”
—Beverly Horne, “Fleece in the Hands of a New Zealand Spinner.” 1978

“It is time to move past the bulletproof stage of handspinning.”
—Dawn Leggett, “On Spinning High-Quality Yarn.” Spring 1989

“Set up your spinning wheel by the front door. Put your coat on, locate your keys and bag, give the family a call, and then sit down at the wheel. Spin till they all have arrived at the front door. If they take five or ten minutes to go to the bathroom and to find their coats, so what, you’re doing something that you enjoy.”
—Pat Slaven, “No Time to Spin.” Fall 1990

handspinning tips

Always tuck an extra spindle and some fiber in your bag. Then the next time someone asks you about handspinning, you can show them how to spin. Photo by Joe Coca.

“The more we spin in public and answer questions with good, coherent answers, the more appreciative the public becomes of what it takes . . . Public spinning is fun, an easy way to get in some spinning time, and a non-threatening way to correct some of the public’s misperceptions.”
—Kris Paige, “Taking Spinning Public.” Summer 1996

“Remember what Gandhi advocated: the more spinners there are, the better the world will be.”
—Maggie Casey, “Teaching Spinning.” Summer 2010

“Always value your work by putting a fair price on your services . . . If you don’t value your work, two things may happen: the customer may not value it (oddly that often seems more true when working with a friend), or you will eventually burn out and quit offering your services.”
—Kaye Collins, “10 Tips for Starting a Custom Spinning Business.” Spring 2013

handspinning tips

Ply-back samples can help you achieve perfectly balanced yarn. Photo by Joe Coca.

“[I]t is not wise to check for balanced twist by allowing the yarn to relax and test for ply-back. If the yarn was spun over a period of time, the Z twist has set, making the ply-back test unreliable. To determine the amount of twist for plying, spin a section of yarn and let it double back on itself immediately, then save this sample and refer to it as you ply.”
—Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts, “The Highwhorl Spindle.” Spring 1995

“Don’t put a finger of either hand in between the strands as you ply [from a centerpull ball]. It isn’t necessary and leads to trouble. As the yarn unwinds from a centerpull ball, the outside strand wraps around the inner one and they twist together . . . Sooner or later you have to pull your finger out, and when you do that it almost always leaves a snarly place in the yarn.”
—Rita Buchanan, “A Closer Look: The Ins and Outs of Centerpull Balls: How to Avoid Tangles and Frustration.” Winter 2000

Agree or disagree, share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Just joining us for our top 40? You won’t want to miss Spin Off’s best handspinning tips on equipment and handspun fabric, fiber and fiber preparation, and yarn structure!


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