Angels from the Realms of Fiber*

Flax weaver

Flax weaver

Folks, I’ve made it to fiber heaven. Angels with handspun wings of cotton, silk, yak, and wool lifted me off the earth and transported me into a world of inspiration, knowledge, and indescribable beauty.

You may rightly ask, “Who are these angels, and why did they pick you?” They didn’t pick me. They shared their gifts with all of us when they published books in the Practical Spinner’s Guide series. You can meet these spinning angels yourselves—and save enough money to buy more fiber—in Interweave’s new Compendium. This specially priced collection delivers all four paperbacks at an amazing price. If you love a spinner, it’s the perfect gift. If you spin, treat yourself. The angels will smile approvingly.

Angel #1: Stephenie Gaustad, Practical Spinner’s Guide to Cotton, Flax, Hemp

Four of Sara Lamb's five silk bags.

Four of Sara Lamb’s five silk bags.

Many spinners stick to animal fibers because cellulose ones seem to difficult or their yarn too unyielding. Stephenie can change your mind, fire up your imagination with new project ideas, and educate you on the amazing history of these textiles. She devotes individual chapters to each of these fibers, including the specific qualities of each kind; then discusses yarn finishing, knitting, and weaving. “Practical” doesn’t begin to describe this book—it’s awe-inspiring and funny at the same time.

Meet some Bactrian camels!

Meet some Bactrian camels!

Angel #2: Sara Lamb, Practical Spinner’s Guide to Silk
When you want eye-candy, nothing can equal silk textiles. Sara’s artistry as spinner, dyer, weaver, and knitter will stir your senses, while her knowledge of this slippery fiber will give you more confidence spinning it. Four chapters offer in-depth techniques for spinning, dyeing, and using silk yarn. Then comes her project gallery, with 16 examples of weaving, knitting, crochet, and embroidery.

Angel #3: Judith MacKenzie, Practical Spinner’s Guide to Rare Luxury Fibers
Judith managed to get two of my favorite words into her title: “to” and “guide.” (Just kidding!) Not only do these luxurious fibers thrill my spinner’s soul, they come from some of the cutest animals on the planet. Judith first covers “fiber science,” animal and fiber characteristics, and sources before moving on to fiber prep, spinning, finishing, and dyeing. My favorite chapter examines “wild” yarn structures that make a little precious fiber go a long way. If you haven’t already played with these fibers, you’ll want to make their acquaintance straightaway.

Wool—timeless, colorful, beautiful.

Wool—timeless, colorful, beautiful.

Angel #4: Kate Larson, Practical Spinner’s Guide to Wool
Kate, our newest angel in the PSG firmament, keeps her own flock of sheep, so she was the perfect author for an in-depth look at sheep, fiber prep, handspinning, and using handspun yarn. It’s perfect for beginners and more advanced spinners, whether they want to work with commercial preps or raw fleece. Kate’s four sample projects are especially inspiring, because she walks us through all her decisions, from history, design, spinning, and knitting a Shetland sweater, Polwarth bag, fulled and embroidered Norwegian mittens, and cowl from fulled singles.

I’m off to get started on my own handspun wings. Come join me in fiber heaven.

*Many of us can only survive the holidays through punning and cheesy wordplay. Sorry about that, and be glad I didn’t go with some sort of riff on Charlie’s Angels. The visuals alone might have scarred us all for life.

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