Spinning Show & Tell and a new book on Spinning and Dyeing

Following my post-Christmas thumb injury and illness, I finally got to spend some time with my new spinning wheel over the weekend. As you know, I have no experience with a wheel so it seemed like a good idea to have a fiddle - that's a technical term, you know - with the adjustable parts while using up some 'practice' fibre. The outcome was not as important as the process which is fortunate - as you can see below, I made a complete mess. This pile is all destined for the inside of a toy, but it was definitely a useful (and fun) thing to do. 
Spinning wheel practice. Step 1. Trying a bit of 'this & that'
With more of a feel for the wheel, and the ability to somewhat control it (!) the next step was to try spinning more evenly, something I found much harder than with a spindle...
Spinning wheel practice. Step 2. Trying to maintain more of an even thickness and twist
And finally, an attempt to ply some singles I'd previously made on a drop-spindle. I thought I had everything just so, but while changing the bobbins, managed to alter the tension and the speed so that I lost the little bit of control I thought I had. Despite going into this thinking that the outcome was irrelevant, I can't help feeling disappointed with this - it's terrible!!!!! 
Spinning wheel practice. Step 3. (Terrible) plying
So LOTS more practice needed - I might even try plying together some of the 'too hideous to use' random yarns that seem to have accumulated in the bottom of my stash. On a more positive note, it's all a learning curve and so progress has in fact been made - mistakes are good teachers.

For inspiration I'm turning to a review* copy of the new Ashley Martineau book, Spinning and Dyeing Yarn: The Home Spinner's Guide to Creating Traditional and Yarn Artwhich comes out in hardback on February 20th. The book is hailed as "the ultimate resource for home spinners and enthusiasts" and it really is a great point of reference, especially for a new spinner like me. It covers all aspects of the process including types of fibre, preparation and tools, various dyeing methods, spinning techniques (using drop spindles, kick spindles and wheels) and how to set the twist. There is an entire chapter at the end about 'going professional' including great advice on the best ways to photograph and sell your finished yarns, although I don't think I'll be needing that just yet, do you?
Images from Ashley Martineau's book Spinning & Dyeing Yarn - review on Crafts from the Cwtch blog
Covering such an enormous topic in 200 or so pages means that while there is a lot of information to get you started, further reading may be necessary for more in-depth coverage of specific areas, but there is plenty here to make this a great addition to the spinner's library. The
 fantastic DIY tutorials are a particular highlight - the author shows exactly how to make your own drying rack, niddy noddy, a spindle from a CD, a light box and even a home-made spinning wheel! Having made my own Lazy Kates (v1 and v2) this was really interesting, although not something I can imagine doing myself.
Images from Ashley Martineau's book Spinning & Dyeing yarn - review in Crafts from the Cwtch blog
As well as being informative the book is a visual treat, whether you are a beginner like me, or an expert spinner. Saying it would work well as a coffee table book is to deny the wealth of information and experience that has clearly gone into it, but the pictures of different yarns are stunning.  Overall I'd say this is a very useful book, and reading it has made me want to be more experimental and to realise that there is a lot more fun to be had than just spinning 'perfect' even yarn.

If you'd like to learn more about the techniques in the book, you may also like the author's blog and her Etsy store where you can download patterns and video tutorials for various kinds of art yarn. Finally, if you'd like to leave a link to your own spinning post, please do so below. Happy spinning!
*The book was provided by the publisher but the review is completely honest and entirely my own. Images from the book used with permission of the publisher.


  1. Good luck with your wheel practice! It takes some time to adjust. I found that my spindles actually had much faster spin than my wheel did, so I had to consciously add more plying twist on the wheel than I thought I would I need.

  2. I think the plied yarn looks fine! I framed swatches of my first plied yarn from my wheel because it looked so funky. I look at it now and laugh at myself...until I look at what I'm making now and it's not much better. Sigh.


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