How to Make a Spinner Smile

Wool ewe be mine? Spinning is balm for the heart and soul—bonding with other spinners across the world and the ages, connecting to Mother Earth, mindfully feeling fiber in hand.

But for the sweetest holiday, here are a few things I love just because they’re cute and fun.

It Itches by Franklin Habit

It’s a book of knitting cartoons, to be sure, but most of these drawings and essays speak just as much to spinners. The overwhelming urge to bring home a sheep from a wool market? The embarrassing house-filling volume of stash? (The latter is even truer for spinners, because our air-filled fiber stashed take up more space than spun yarn.) Franklin knows all our quirks all and sends them up in this hilarious volume.

We gave a roomful of spinning teachers each a copy of the book, and they took turns sharing their favorite pages and cackling. Nancy Bush remarked, “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so amused!”

My favorite part: “The Underpants Knitters of Great Fussing-on-the-Wold,” one of ten essays in the volume. I insist on reading it aloud to people, who then become frustrated when I can’t finish a sentence for laughing.

Spinner Smile

Sheepy Washi Tape from Kakara Woolworks

Sheepy Washi Tape from Kakara Woolworks

There’s a roll of this in my desk, and every once in a while I pull off a piece and stick it on something that needs cheering up. I received some for review in Spin Off Fall 2015 and was so taken by it that I insisted we offer it in our store.

My favorite part: Each of the sheep on the tape is a distinct breed. Pictured are Merino, Cheviot, Romney, Jacob, Suffolk, Lincoln, and Herdwick.

Three Bags Full

Judith MacKenzie is delightful in a classroom, but she comes to life in a sheep barn or fleece-judging tent. Following her on a tour of a sheep and wool festival, as we do in the first part of this four-hour video, makes you wonder why not everyone loves to put their hands (and noses!) in a fresh pile of wool. Having shorn, skirted, and judged thousands of fleeces doesn’t diminish her joy in finding an excellent example. In each one she sees the potential for something wonderful: a blanket, sweater, or length of woven fabric. Even the yolk-stained fleece that Judith bought as a cautionary tale is a treasure in disguise, and she reveals her plan for salvaging it.

If the first part of the video is what to buy (or what not to buy), the second part is “what to do next.” With the three bags full of the title, Judith demonstrates a vast range of processing and spinning possibilities.

My favorite part: Judith’s fleece-storage advice. It may counter to everything you have heard about preserving raw wool, but she tells you her reasons (as she stomps the fleece firmly in a bucket).


Make a spinner smile today!

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