Homespun Handknit, Old and New

Spider Hat by Nancy Roberts from All New Homespun Handknit.


The original Homespun Handknit came about in a serendipitous way. Spin-Off magazine had a little contest back in 1986: send in your handspun caps, socks, mittens, and gloves. Our readers did, by the score. As we surveyed the lot, we thought, "Let's make a book!" So we did. Creating useful instructions was a challenge, since spinners tend to fudge a lot, and their yarns are decidedly not standard. But the results were so worth it. That little book of fifty-one patterns, ranging from classic to eccentric, from simple to mind-bending, stuck around through many printings—for twenty-two years, in fact. Then it retired.

Entrelac Socks by Erda Kappeler from All New Homespun Handknit.

The All New Homespun Handknit came to be in 2009. Compare it to the original and you can see how the crafts of spinning and publishing developed in two-plus decades. More consistent, intentional yarns, more sophisticated knitwear design, cleaner page layout, fresher photography. It was good. That was three years ago.

Now the All New Homespun Handknit has a new life as an electronic book. Already we are taking for granted that a book doesn't have to be made of paper and ink. Already many of us are embracing the convenience and beauty of books delivered on backlit screens, books that arrive in our electronic devices as if by magic. Whoosh! Here's a new book!

Many people bemoan this trend, reluctant to give up the feel, the smell, the tactile reality of those turnable pages. Happily, you can have it both ways. Now handspun caps and mittens, on the other hand—it's hard to imagine an electronic version of those. Makes me cold just to think about it.

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