Return to Simple Beginnings


Spin It! begins with the simplest of materials: a handful of teased wool and your own two hands.

When I first learned to spin, Spin It!, originally compiled in 2003 from Lee Raven's Hands on Spinning (Interweave, 1987), was the first and most useful book that someone pressed into my hands.

As someone who was enticed to spin by the luxurious hand-dyed fibers and gorgeous spindles available, I was most surprised to find that Spin It! begins with the simplest of materials: a handful of teased wool and your own two hands. After making a short length of yarn with two hands and a thigh, you graduate to a simple hooked length of wire coat hanger. I was impatient to get to delicately balanced spindles and finely turned wheels as fast as I could.

But you may be surprised to learn that some life-long spinners make yarn using nothing more than hands and fiber. There's a distinguished and active tradition of thigh spinning in communities around the world. And I don't know of any that use a plain hooked stick, but some European spinners use a hand-held spindle that amounts to little more than a stick. Adding a clay or stone at the bottom for a whorl starts to look like its own kind of luxury.

When you can spin yarn in your sleep, it might seem like a beginner booklet like Spin It! is the last thing you need. But sometimes that's when I need it most: to remember the fundamentals. To remind myself that it's the spinner who makes the tools sing in her hands. To remember the pesky skill that I always figured I'd practice later (for me, handcarding and plying on a spindle).

To brush up on your spinning fundamentals, check out the Spin-Off Presents: How to Spin It eBook. We've recently republished the how-to portion of this out of print treasure as a downloadable eBook. We think it will continue to be a valuable resource to both new and experienced spinners for years to come.

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