Spinning Wheel Opinionator

Spinners have waited for years (or longer) for one of his custom wheels. Spinners have cheered, cursed, marveled, or thrown up their hands at his vast knowledge and challenging teaching style. He has mentored one Spin-Off editor (Lee Raven) and many stellar contributors through the years. His Big Book of Spinning is considered either the Bible or the Bloviation of spinning literature. Alden Amos does not evoke lukewarm responses.

Long before the Big Book hit print, though, there was the Little Book. Interweave published The Spinning Wheel Primer in 1989, a remix and redesign of an earlier edition published by Straw Into Gold, in Berkeley, California, in the 1970s. Running only sixty-four pages, it was a succinct discussion of wheel types, wheel mechanics, and wheel maintenance. A well-illustrated, no-frills reference. (And of course, the opinion: what constitutes the ideal wheel?)

I visited Alden and his partner, Stephenie Gaustad, at their home near Jackson, California, up in the Gold Country this spring. There’s magic to the place, the magic of years’ accumulation of spinning and weaving equipment, materials, books, tools; the magic of gardens and vineyards and cats underfoot; the magic of exploration and discovery and industry and love of craft.

We reminisced, feasted on homemade soup, speculated on the state of the craft, and marveled at the emergence of digital books. You can enjoy some of that conversation in this brief video.

There’s some irony in the fact that one of the biggest Luddites on the planet, a hand typesetter, and bookbinder of considerable skill, is the author of Interweave’s first authored book issued in digital format.

What a hoot.


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