In Spin Off Archives, a History of Handspinning

We’re getting ready for the 40th anniversary celebration of Spin Off with the Fall 2017 issue. For me, this means browsing back issues in search of gems from the history of handspinning that today’s readers should see and remember. I began with the issues included in the Ultimate Spin Off 15 Year Digital Collection, and I didn’t even get out of the collection’s first year (2000) before discovering some goodies I had to share.

Discover a New Spindle

In Winter 2000, Connie Delaney offered an article about a Hohokam-style spindle, similar to what we think of as a Navajo spindle. She covers everything from making one to spinning, plying, and even creating a project using Hohokam-spun yarn.

Connie Delaney explains how to make and use a now-rare Southwestern style of spindle, the Hohokam. Illustration by Susan Strawn

Connie Delaney explains how to make and use a now-rare Southwestern style of spindle, the Hohokam. Illustration by Susan Strawn

Rita Breaks the Rules

What is spinning without the twist? In Fall 2000, Spin Off ran a controversial article by Rita Buchanan (who created the delightful video How I Spin) describing how not to spin—that is, how to knit with unspun roving. The article is as frank, thorough, and revolutionary as any of Rita’s articles, and two patterns (including one for socks!) follow it up.

Inspired by Rita Buchanan’s article on knitting with unspun roving, Linda Gordon knitted lovely socks with nary a twist.

Inspired by Rita Buchanan’s article on knitting with unspun roving, Linda Gordon knitted lovely socks with nary a twist.

Changing of the Guard

2000 included issues edited by two remarkable women, Deb Robson and Amy Clarke Moore. At times I can hear the voice of each; the articles range from gentle to rigorous depending on how authoritative the author felt in his or her approach. In 2000, the magazine’s tag line changed from “The Magazine for Handspinners” to “Your Handspinning Community.”

I find so many treasures in these issues: how-to articles by accomplished spinners who aren’t working any longer, delightful stories by adventurers in fiber preparation and dyeing. And astonishingly beautiful handspun pieces.

We’re working on offering the complete back catalog of Spin Off issues (at least the magazine-style ones; we don’t have an easy way of scanning and converting the tabloid-sized newsprint ones edited by Lee Raven in 1981–1982). We hope to make all 40 years available sometime in the fall of 2017.

—Anne


Discover Spinning History!

 

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