Oh dear, I have been quiet. Unfortunately there’s an explanation – my hand’s been playing up again, following osteopathy. It has to recover soon, because I cannot wait to try out some of the suggestions in Sarah Anderson’s book…
Now, there’d been quite a bit of fuss about this among the spinners on Ravelry, a flurry of anticipation, people obtaining early copies from the US and whetting everyone else’s appetite, tantalising us with descriptions and occasionally with photos. A friend had one, and I had a quick flick through at the Sunday Market Spinners; it looked OK… And then my own copy arrived, and I was quite prepared to be disappointed, deciding that for once I would be realistic – after all, you build something up, and it’s rarely as good as you hoped.
No need. It’s marvellous. It’s clear, beautifully laid out and mouthwatering. I was initially slightly surprised that I found it so because when it comes to yarn, I’m deeply in love with colour. The samples here are all in white or cream, giving the book a cool, rather Scandinavian appearance.
That’s completely deliberate – ‘colour can be a distraction’ – and it’s not to say that the book is devoid of colour; far from it, but it is used judiciously – and is all the more emphatic for that.
From the descriptions I’d read, and even from my brief flickette, I had formed the impression that The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs was entirely devoted to art yarns. There are a few other books on the subject – for me, they’re mouthwatering but impractical – and I’d expected to find another, but it’s much more than that. Incidentally, I’d never have thought of myself as a ‘yarn designer’ (ho ho – lumps, bumps and strange overspun stretches do not a yarn design make, IMO) but, as Sarah Anderson says, ‘People who make yarn are not only spinners, they are also yarn designers.’ So there. Preen.
Yes, it’s great on ‘art’ yarns (more later) but, completely unexpectedly, it’s fantastic on the basics, too. In fact, and I hesitate to say this, being very loyal to the books which helped me start spinning a couple of years ago, but it’s brilliant on the basics. Better than many of the basic books, with the added advantage that it takes you onwards. The illustrations are so clear:
And it’s not just the illustrations; the text is clear as well. The author uses, for example, a knitting analogy to help explain twist: if you use to small a needle, you get tight fabric; use too large a one, and your knitting is too large, too loose and too floppy – though that depends on what you want to do with it, of course. Too much or too little twist, and the same applies. And even I can follow this book’s instructions, and that’s saying something, and the 64 reference cards provided are amazingly useful. Oops, no I didn’t try anything, I’ve not been fiddling about and anyway I kept my brace on. Officer.
When you start spinning, your main concern is to produce something that you can actually use, and not something that is either so loose that it falls apart or so tight than it looks like your sister-in-law’s dreads (sorry, F, but it did). Then there are the mad spirals, the unfortunate inclusion of thorns from the fleece that create the Yarn of Pain, and the ones where you fail to work with the colour properly and produce yarn the colour of mud from iridescent roving. You can’t quite believe that you will get beyond this stage, and so the beginner books are fine. But pretty soon it all comes together and, unless you’re me and hurt your hand so badly that you need surgery, you are off into another world.
A world full of texture and form and interesting effects, from comparatively straightforward to more demanding ones.
Yes, they are demanding, especially on your coordination, and they’re often challenging, but there’s nothing wrong with that; you’ve got to push yourself. Some are amazingly beautiful, some are intriguing and some are so beautiful in themselves I’d not want to knit them up (I have a definite weakness for cocoons). Short of having an experienced and patient tutor sitting over your shoulder, I cannot imagine a better or more practical way of exploring the possibilities of fibre.
Oh, all right, I admit it. I’ve had a tentative go already, in defiance of sanity. Tentative. Nothing has worsened. OK?
A late photo addition, following a request. These are the cards, before I broke them up for use:
No idea how these could be handled in the Kindle edition, but maybe you wouldn’t need them in the same way? Intriguing – any kindle owners, let us know!