Spinning and Weaving Go Together

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  Kate Larson’s tailspun Leicester yarn would make a spectacular weft–and one you can’t get commercially.

imageplaceholder Anne Merrow
Editor, Spin-Off Magazine

Back when Interweave was just a single magazine, weaving and spinning went hand in hand. In fact, spinning was usually only covered as a subset of weaving–so when Spin-Off was spun off from Interweave in 1977, it was a surprising departure. It signaled that spinning is a craft in its own right, not just the little sister of weaving.

But I think spinning’s independence from weaving may have gone too far. Some spinners are told that they can’t weave with handspun yarns! (Someone should tell all those explorers whose handspun handwoven sails crossed the Atlantic, or the spinners and weavers of the contemporary Andes whose handspun handwoven fabrics protect them against the elements!)

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  Bobbie Irwin’s Autumn Leaves Shawl uses handspun yarn as an inlay. Photos by Joe Coca.

Spinners can and should weave . . . but weavers can and should spin, too. Here’s why:

  1. Spinners can make the exact yarns they want.
    Sure, it takes practice, but spinners can get the exact fiber content, yarn diameter, amount of twist, and almost every yarn characteristic you can dream of. They’re not limited to commercial yarns.  
  2. Spinners can modify commercial yarns, too.
    Did you find a yarn you like but aren’t sure it has enough twist to be durable? Are you looking for an energized yarn for collapse weaving? It’s easy to use a spinning wheel to add some extra twist in a jiffy.  
  3. Spinners can make the best novelty yarns.
    There are fun bouclés and textured yarns on the market, but for a truly curly bouclé or a frizzy tailspun yarn or even a puffy coil yarn, handspun can’t be beat. Or modify a commercial yarn by corespinning or frosting some lovely soft locks–quick and still handmade. These might not make the best warp yarns, but for a unique weft and a gorgeous fabric, look no further than handspun yarns.
  4. Spinners get to know their fabrics intimately.
    If you want a truly handmade piece of cloth, one that has your creativity and skill and passion in not only every pick but every fiber, then you need to spin it for yourself.

Every issue of Spin-Off includes information on how (and why) to spin, details on a variety of fibers, and projects–often including simple but clever weaving designs. Spinning and weaving together make for a fiber lover’s paradise.


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