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T O P I C    R E V I E W
jimbobspins Posted - 02/14/2007 : 6:21:18 PM
Looks like it will be out in March or April:

20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Ingrid_in_Sweden Posted - 06/30/2007 : 10:47:09 AM
Hi Klara,


Vendeen? Sound seven more like fun I am also sampling and a bit more of local 'stuff' mostly endangered heirloom sheep wool also more of the 'forest sheep'.

Yes I had originally planned to go to Woolfest however we didn't as in September I am going on a dream fiber adventure to Shetland Orkney Fair isle North Ronaldsay and possibly Unst too. Can't have all the cakes y'know ;-))

Smiles form Ingrid
Kade1301 Posted - 06/30/2007 : 02:46:59 AM
I think it was out of print for a while and they reprinted it - but I may be wrong about that. And your carding technique sounds just like mine! In any case, as long as you get wool that's nice to spin, how you card doesn't matter - there ain't no carding police, either (the strangest description I've found is in Kurt Henschel "Spinnen mit Herz and Hand" - I still don't really know how it's supposed to work). Yes, I know that Wingham's do small samples for 50 p - but when 100 g cost only 2 pounds I figure it's not worth it. I still have samples of Alpaca, Cachegora and Angora, though. I've moved a bit away from sampling and into production, so I'm trying to pick up unusual fleeces from people who don't know what to do with their wool (next month I'll get some Vendeen lambs wool - maybe even a brown one).

By the way - weren't you planning to go to Woolfest?

Ingrid_in_Sweden Posted - 06/30/2007 : 12:34:08 AM
Hi Klara,

Many thanks for the good clear info!
OK - when I get better at spinning fine yarns I know I will need grist to brag ;-)) haha. And I see not having a LYS definitely changes things. Not that we have a lot of American yarns anyway ;-)

No, I am not lefthanded and - interesting - my 'normal' carding technique cards both sides of the batt - I think - yes just tested, it does. Carding is a thing of mystery to me there are several ways to do it and what I have seen in some books - it apperas if they only card one side.

Bad description how I do it - right handed;
Grab the left carder and rest it on your left knee with the handle pointing upwards. Grab the handle with your left hand and keep arm at right angles if possible. Stroke/load fibers onto the carder with my right hand and then grab the right carder and start.

Only the bottom half of fibers on the left carder is carded and I only use the corresponding part of the righthanded carder. My carders are not flat they are curved....
When no more fibers can be transferred, I empty the left carder onto the right and start carding again transferring fibers from the right to the left and whn no more wants to be transferred I empty the RIGHT carder onto the left.
Repeated a number of times often or more that tre times per carder.

Oh and have you checked out Winghams sample wool service? I find it excellent purchasing small samples at 50 p - the goat top was hilarious! Coarse is only its middle name but for crafts dolls? excellent.

More wool :-)))

Smils from ingrid

I just wish I could lay my hands onto the old Swedish books on domestic sheep breeds and wool they are all out of print and printed in small numbers only. :(
Many thanks for the book review I shall put it on my wishlist - sounds like it is one of those books that are almost out of print?
Kade1301 Posted - 06/29/2007 : 12:34:15 PM
Hi Ingrid,

Are you left-handed? My carding technique might be faster because both sides of the batt are carded - normally you always card one side, the batt's never turned over.

Regarding substituting yarns, to tell the truth, the only thing I knit according to the pattern are Victorian Lace Shawls - and there the gauge doesn't matter, and I'll just spin as fine as I can... But grist would give me a starting point for replacing yarns IF I wanted to (I mean, I don't have a yarn store handy where I could see what xyz looks like. But if I read it's 100 yards/50 grams in wool, that tells me something about the yarn.) The other thing is that in German, wpi is completely unknown and only used by spinners who read English. Everybody else who's bragging about the fineness of their yarn uses grist ;-) But that's the nice thing about Amos' book: There's such a lot of material that there's something for everybody - and conversely also less interesting things (personally, I'm not very concerned about the chemistry of washing wool, either).

I've ordered the Indigo Hound combs as I'll probably never get around to making 5-pitch combs. Still hoping to do single or double-row combs, one day (so much to do, so little time!)

In Sheep's Clothing: A Handspinner's Guide to Wool is written by Nola and Jane Fournier and available through Amazon. It's what the title says - a description of all the wools used in the English-speaking world. Wools are sorted into the categories "fine", "longwool and crossbreed", "down-type" and "other" with a chapter on coloured wool. Each chapter begins with washing instructions for this type of wool and then the sheep breeds are listed in alphabetical order with their wool characteristics (fleece weight, diameter - Bradford count and micron, staple length) and in most cases with a picture of a staple.
There's also general information about wool, a chapter on yarn design (which wool for which purpose and how to prepare it), a chapter about storing fleeces, and info about how to prepare them for spinning (combing, carding) and a bit about spinning and plying, including some stretching exercises. It's a really great book if you are interested in wool from all over the world (or want to know what you should order from Wingham Woolworks) - only actual wool samples would be better (I'm working on that!)

Happy spinning! Klara
Ingrid_in_Sweden Posted - 06/29/2007 : 08:05:25 AM
Hi Klara,

guess what - I am sitting here with wool and carders in hand trying out your technique for carding - trying to empty the left carder as smoothly as possibly and failing a bit haha :-)
Funny thing, I didn't need as many passes as I normally would with yout technique! hmm....

Anyhow to my mind I was thinking rather along the lines but we already have all the 'tools' necessary for determining the characteristics of our yarn but I guess I can relate to someone wanting to exchange a yarn in a knitting patetrn though that is NOT the way I would go about it - you would need to test spin and swatch and...all the etceteras you usually go through anyway ... ! I would still swatch and use wpi and think I am fairly on high and dry ground because there will always be a difference anyway. And I don't have much faith in my swatches anyway - often my gauge changes as I knit a larger project and the swatch is not wasted but only an indication. And for me the 'gauge' given for a commercial yarn will tell me what I would want to know anyway.
And no - I haven't put it to the test yet ;-) as in spinning in exchange for a commercial yarn but to me handspun doesn't behave like commercial anyway so the likeness will be very superficial.

Philosophical & rhetorical question - why spin to the likeness of commercial yarns anyway if we have good control over our end product?

Oh and just which make of English combs did you settle for Klara? I am very fond of mine have just received my handmade Swedish one row combs which I find are very good for rough combing the wool preparatory to combing with the English combs.

Hihi I like Mr Teal's style ;-) all 'master spinners' have their own narrative style and worsteds are superior in many ways to woolen as the opposite is true too depending on your viewpoint. Remember also when mr Teals book was published - thick rough yarn spun in the grease was considered the norm as the craft was revived. No wonder he thought his yarn was superior. What we have now and what was available then is nothing we can compare :))
Anyhow not all fleeces are good for English combs which is why I got my Swedish one row ones - good for Gotland which sometimes is a bit too short to succesfully comb on English combs. And what we call 'fin-ull' domestic old breed with what feels very similar to BFL, it is also too short for anything but one pitch combs.

And a good thing about combs - lets you pick out the second cuts and neps like a dream ;-)

Sheep's clothing? No, it has escaped me .... do tell me more (if you have managed to read this far that is ;-) )

Smiles from Ingrid in Sweden who currently is also combing native heirloom sheep wool. Dualcoated - and feels very much like Shetland of the older types and North Ron wool too.

Kade1301 Posted - 06/29/2007 : 05:02:53 AM
Hi Ingrid!

I think Alden just put everything into his book that he thought might be interesting for someone at some time - I'm not really concerned with calculating wool weight at standard conditions ;-) But I think grist is really imporatant: It allows conclusions as to yarn diameter (more or less - I know that silk is heavier than wool, and that mill-spun yarns often are lighter weight than homespun, denser ones) so that we can replace the yarn proposed by a knitting pattern by our handspun (or have at least a rough idea which of our yarns we should knit a gauge swatch with) - after all, every (?) yarn label states weight and length of the yarn, and most knitting patterns also give that info. Whereas the wpi can only be found in patterns written specifically for handspinners.

I'm also quite fond of Wool Combing (and I've finally ordered English combs - yeah!), but I think it's rather specialized. and Teal's "worsted is SOOO superior" really grates on my nerves...

Do you know "In Sheep's Clothing"? It also has terrific information on fleece preparation (and possibly spinning, but I'm rereading the book at the moment and haven't gotten to the spinning part yet), apart from the characteristics of all the english-speaking sheep's wool.
Ingrid_in_Sweden Posted - 06/29/2007 : 03:15:27 AM
Thank you Klara for your review - you have written EXACTLY what I wanted to know about the book and Jim gave the rest :-)

For us that haven't had the opportunity of hearing her voice, and hearing her explanations, the quality of the book depends solely on what we can read and only that.

One other 'good' spin book to add I am very fond of Peter Teals book on wool combing and worsteds, as it is also a good general spinning book with tpi's and such.

Oh and just why is Alden Amos so into grist and how much a spinner spins per hour? For a hobby spinner it isn't quite relevant or what am I missing....:-)

Ingrid in Sweden

Kade1301 Posted - 05/23/2007 : 12:55:27 PM
I'm not disputing that Judith is a great teacher, but the BIG problem I have with the book is that there are no reasons given - it's always "do this, that, and the other" without explanation. I like your statement "I find it is very helpful to remind me of things I might have missed during my class." because at times the book nearly felt to me like these powerpoint handouts that are fine for the people who've heard the presentation, but perfectly useless for anybody else. Unfortunately, the book is not a handout for course participants, but for spinners everywhere.

Please let us know how you like the book! So far the discussion is mostly between advanced spinners (I think) who are perhaps not the target readers. I'd really like to know how a beginner gets along with it (as soon as I find somebody who reads English easily - not frequent in France - and wants to learn spinning I'll lend them the book, a wheel and fibre).

purlewe Posted - 05/23/2007 : 07:39:12 AM
Just having come from Judith's class at MDSW where I bought the book for myself as well as GemGirl22.. I can say that yes.. I was botherds by the typos. I know that few have the technical editing skills to do this subject justice (not to mention the speed in which it went to press). But I feel that this is a good book to help get people started. I find it is very helpful to remind me of things I might have missed during my class. (even though I took notes LOTS of notes) And I think that once cleaned up it will become a great resource for many many people to learn to spin.

Hearing that there is a second book only gives me ideas of what it could cover. I find it more exciting than disappointing. Shelia and I talked about it alot during the weekend and I think that she is right.. the typos are awful.. but truly someone who is not a spinner wouldn't catch some of the mistakes found in this book. I was glad that I was lucky enough to take a class from her and I wish that everyone can try to meet her and glean some of her ideas. They don't always jibe with your own BUT she can tell you why she thinks what she does.. instead of past teachers I have had who say "this is the ONLY way to do it" Judith might say "this is the way I think it should be done and why." You might not agree, but you have her rationale behind the reasoning.

My mother made me a homosexual.
And if you give her some yarn, she'll make you one too. ~quentin crisp
Simplicity Posted - 05/22/2007 : 09:35:29 AM
I just purchased this book upon recommendations as part of my reference collection for a new spinner.
Shelia Posted - 05/14/2007 : 7:13:27 PM
Since I first saw the book (after I posted from the weaving conference, a few copies arrived and I bought one) I have been complaining about the typos to a number of people. They aren't just technical typos, labeling a photo with various kinds of fiber with a term like "sheepis wool" rather than "sheep's wool" is just sloppy copy editing, nothing to do with spinning. It doesn't look as if they even ran it by a spell checker.

All typos aside, I do think the book is a good one, aimed at a novice spinner, and written with a definite "voice", specifically Judith's voice. I've taken classes from her, and also with many other instructors, both well-known and not, and have always thought that there are personal hot buttons with all instructors, some of which I don't agree with. This applies to Judith's teaching as much as any other teaching - but she does most always have a very definite viewpoint, and can tell you why she espouses that viewpoint. I choose to differ with some of the things that "Judith says" one should do when spinning, but I do think that she is one of the strongest teachers that is actively and widely available to many spinners. The book may not be perfect, but for many, it is a way to get information and help when struggling to learn a new skill.

While helping Morgaine (Carolina Homespun)out at the NH Sheep and Wool this weekend, I sold the book to at least 2 absolute newbie spinners, who had wheels in their houses that they didn't know how to use. While I did encourage them to try a video as well, and warned that the book has some typos, I believe that it is very possible that they can learn to use those wheels from this book. It was done in a hurry, and I hope that the errors ar fixed in the next edition, but it's still a valuable tool, and I'm glad to see it come out. I hope that there are more spinning books published that will continue to help build skills and confidence in spinning.

And no, even though "Judith says so", I don't believe in drafting forward, or that all sock yarns MUST be at least 3-ply to wear well.

afranquemont Posted - 05/14/2007 : 11:00:48 AM
Klara, well-thought out and concrete, and I appreciate the review, having not yet seen the book. I do intend to BUY the book, because I pretty much buy all spinning books eventually, among other reasons; I'll drop you a line and share thoughts with you when I do, most likely. ;-)

With respect to "bobbin lead is the fastest," the only thing I can think she MIGHT mean is that bobbin lead is capable of higher speeds than flyer lead, because driving the item with the fewest centrifugal forces to contend with means less drag and greater mechanical advantage. If memory serves, the Alden Amos chapter on drive systems gets into this a bit, talking about double drive bobbin lead, and why with both flyer and bobbin being driven, double drive wheels perform more consistently regardless of what's in the lead than flyer lead or bobbin lead single drive wheels.

But... that whole discussion is on the geeky side for sure. I think you or I might sit around and debate such points, but the vast majority of spinners are not going to be getting into that sort of thing for a long while into spinning, certainly well past any "teach yourself" stage.

I think you've hit the nail on the head in that it's a technical writing project, but one where the audience is not necessarily looking for technical (or jargon-heavy) *feel* when reading. Sadly, I can also think of only a few technical textile editors and they're none of 'em at big publishing houses. It is relatively rare to read textile-related printed material which doesn't contain slews of editorial issues. I know that I find (and I'd wager that you do as well) that whenever I've put something up online, after my own extensive proofing and everything, I'll still often have missed something which leaps out at some enterprising reader or which I don't spot at all until a reread weeks or months later. A good editor is priceless and rare, doubtless all the more so when dealing with a very specialized topic.

Similarly, one of the problems I have with photos is that I can either be doing the thing in question, or taking the photo... or attempting to direct someone else to take the photo, and tell them what's important. I do rather a lot of one-handed photos, delayed shutter photos, and other such things trying to deal with this issue, and thinking back, one of the reasons I learned photography (and to think about this question) is that I was my father's hand model or photographer for textile technique photos in his articles. You need two people who know textiles and what you're trying to show, to get a lot of kinds of photos. Times when I've been trying to get someone else to photograph certain things have often been frustrating and just not produced usable photos.

As an aside, it is hard to be the one with the critical view sometimes, and it can be hard to express a critical view in a constructive or positive manner, and often even when one takes incredible care to do so, it can be heard in less-constructive ways. ;-)

Petiteflower, my sympathies as well, from the bottom of my heart -- I remember working on my father's obit, 3 years and a few months ago, and it's high on the list of most heartbreaking things I ever had to do, and speaking as someone who still misses her most excellent dad, well, I wish there was anything smart I could say, or anything helpful, but I know there isn't. And forgive yourself any crabbiness or terseness or anything... sheesh, I burst into tears over the stress of making a decision about what kind of ice cream I wanted, in the throes of that loss. *hugs* from a random stranger.

Abby Franquemont
Kade1301 Posted - 05/14/2007 : 09:09:49 AM
Petiteflower, my heartfelt condolences for your dad!

And a big thank you for your statement regarding Judith's handout - it's so nice to be not all alone with a critical view :-)


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petiteflower Posted - 05/14/2007 : 08:10:24 AM
I have never taken a class from Ms. MacKenzie nor have I seen this book of hers (I'm beginning to think my nerves aren't up to it!), and all I ever see on this forum is how terrific a teacher she is, ad infinitum. But I will say right here and now that the first paragraph of Kromgal's above post is just about the worst, most discombobulated description of spinning wheel drive modes I have seen to date. I don't see how anybody who is new to the subject could make heads or tails out of it, and I myself consider it to be rife with errors. Sure, I know what she MEANS when she says "the flyer stays still" or "the bobbin stays still" but that is not what is happening at all, at all, at all. And don't get me started on this speed thing of hers. What a load. And "on a double drive wheel the tension is controlled by the size of the spindle whorls"....what the.......! Also, the thing about the flyer and the bobbin moving together on the double drive wheel, wow does this statement not even begin to tell the whole story of what is really happening. I'm not even going to waste any more of my time picking this crappy paragraph apart, I think the world would be a better place if we could just erase it and start over from scratch. All of you beginners out there, just shade your eyes and look elsewhere for the facts. I am in a very tender and reckless mood, having just finished writing the obituary for my most excellent dad, but I think I would have my hackles as equally raised if I had just been out gathering rosebuds.
KromGal Posted - 05/14/2007 : 06:30:41 AM
I have my printed handout from JMM's "Comprehensive Spinning" class and what she says there is that "when you treadle a bobbin driven wheel, the flyier stays still and the bobbin moves around...On a flyer driven wheel, the flyer moves and the bobbin stays still. A bobbin driven wheel, all things being equal, spins faster than a flyer driven wheel. When tension is applied, it is applied to the flyer.......On a double drive wheel, both the flyer and the bobbin move together, the tension controlled by the size of the spindle whorls. When you adjust one tension, you adjust get a little less control and a bit more speed......When tension is applied to only one part of the wheel [flyer or bobbin] it is called a Scotch brake......will give you finer control than you had before.......If production is your goal, a double drive or bobbin driven wheel makes sense. If you're after that finest yarn record or spin a lot of fine, high-crimp fiber such as cashmere, then a Scotch brake would be most helpful." To be honest, I don't totally understand the physics, but have had other teachers tell me essentially the same thing, so who am I to question?

As for that "short backward draft" issue, I must say that Judith does have some pretty strong opinions at times and I recall that she doesn't like this technique. ( She was also pretty negative about one of my favorite methods of spinning, that described in the Paula Simmons book, "Spinning for Softness and Speed.") She is essentially a "worsted spinner" that being how she was taught, and she is a purist. The comment in my class handout says it all: "all drafting is done towards the wheel." Period. No real explanation, but I'm sure there is one. I did notice, by the way, in this handout, that she uses the words "stretched out" almost exclusively after saying it means "attenuation" and I notice she does also explain this at one point in the book.

Kade1301 Posted - 05/14/2007 : 01:56:42 AM

I didn't say that wheels with staggered hooks (I staggered the hooks and put them on the same side of the flyer on one of my "antiques" after seeing Judith's video - it's actually a good idea ) and/on which the whorl unscrews counterclockwise don't exist - but I think they are in the minority. And, as for the typos, it's not a problem for me and you. But as I understand the "Teach Yourself Visually" series, the books are aimed at absolute beginners. NOT at people who have a collection of spinning wheels at home and have read everything they could get their eyes on. How's the beginner to know that it's Majacraft and carded rovings? How to set up drive band and brake band on a scotch tension wheel? Of course the book's not all wrong - there's some good information and good ideas in it - but how is a beginner to know the difference? Not everybody is contrary enough to throw some washed fleece into the FRONT loading washing machine for getting out as much water as possible (for the first time ever - normally I "windmill" by hand) after reading that you need a top-loader to do it.

Maybe the book should have been devided into two books: One about spindles, spinning wheels and how to spin "normal" yarn, and a second one about exotic fibres, novelty yarn and dyeing. That way there would have been enough space to treat the subjects more thoroughly and the misunderstandings could have been avoided.

By the way, KromGal, do you know what Judith means when she talks about bobbin-driven wheels being the fastest? Has she adressed the subject in any of her classes? The other thing I'd like to know is why Judith is against the short backwards draft (in her video she says that habit can be corrected by spinning from the cards - if it needs correcting, it must be a bad habit). Unfortunately the chance that I'll ever be able to take a class with her is rather small, unless we can get her to come to Europe (or even better, France - does anybody know whether she speaks French?)


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diane leirer Posted - 05/12/2007 : 2:43:36 PM
I have yet to look at this book. And I only spindle spin, as I have yet to purchase a wheel. But I know for myself that seeing a video (or better yet, real live instruction) will always convey information better than still photos or text, esp. when there is so much movement/motion/technique involved. That said, I still will most likely buy this book as my transition to wheel spinning.
jimbobspins Posted - 05/12/2007 : 1:45:16 PM
I think I know where Judith might find her next technical editor ;-)

Klara, I hope you do realize that the world is not absolute. There are many lovely shades of gray and more than one way to skin a cat. Yeah, the book may not be perfect, but I wouldn't lose sleep over any of the typos.

BTW The whorls on my double drive Saxony unscrew counterclockwise. The hooks are on the same side of the flyer on both arms and are staggered. I'm going to have to tell Gord he has it all wrong the next time I see him, even though my wheel spins like a dream.

Kade1301 Posted - 05/12/2007 : 1:44:44 PM
Where have I said anything about doubting Judith's knowledge? But the contents of her brain don't help the reader - we can only profit from what's on the page!

As for terminology - I don't think that's a U.S./Canadian problem. I've never noticed a difference in terminology when reading Canadian blogs or English books. I'm wondering whether maybe Wiley have said something like "Explain spinning, but no technical terms, please".

What really upsets me is that the book had such a lot of potential - great spinning teacher, big publisher, professional layout and photographer - but probably Judith was the only spinner on the staff [:((] (otherwise I really don't understand why they didn't choose pictures that show what is supposed to be shown) and the potential has just not been realized. A pity!

Of course I'll buy the next book as well - when you compare with what's been written about horses, there's just not enough spinning books around.


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KromGal Posted - 05/12/2007 : 10:44:50 AM
I'm not sure that you can blame the "problems" you have with this book on Judith, but it is what it is. A hastily published book that is both comprehensive and superficial at the same time. I know Judith and have spent many hours in comprehensive classes with her and can tell you that this particular book is not in any way indicative of the woman's extensive knowledge on all things relating to fiber. You may be justified in trashing the book from a "technical" point of view, but I suggest you wait until her next book (coming next year; an intermediate book according to her) before questioning her knowledge. Or perhaps take a class with her..then you might understand why some people indeed will want to "throw stones" at you for "dissing" her! (As for her terminology, she's Canadian. Enough said.)

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