Not my usual topic, I know. They are fibers I have thought about but I confess to only spinning one of them for any length of time. Well, I got a new book. It’s a book I knew was in the works for some time but I had no idea it would be such an extensive look at these fibers.


I met Stephenie Gaustad several years ago at SOAR when it was in Oregon. At that SOAR I took a 3 day class about spinning cotton. It was marvelous. There were history lessons and stories and instruction about spinning cotton from boll to prepared slivers. My cotton spinning skills improved immensely over those 3 days which in turn helped my spinning skills in general. And now, here is this book with all the stuff I learned.

And that’s only 1/3 of the book!

It’s called the Practical Spinner’s Guide and it covers everything that I want to know as well as some stuff I didn’t know I wanted to know.

Each chapter begins with an overview of the plant and how it grows. There are even instructions for growing the plants yourself if you want to take it on. Following all of this there is in depth information about how to get each plant ready for spinning – including how to rett the fibers of flax and hemp. Keep reading and you find out how to finish the yarns you make, some information on dyeing and how to use the yarns once you have them. It really is a start to finish book.

Beyond all of the great information, Stephenie writes in a way that makes me feel like it’s ok to try and practice until I get it right.

I have never spun Flax and Hemp because I had no idea about how to go about it. Does it need to be wet? How wet? Long Line or tow? I never knew any of that and this book tells all the stuff. Seriously, it tells everything, right down to how to hold your hands when spinning on both a spindle and wheel, how to load a distaff, how much twist and how to adjust your wheel tension to get it just right.

Many of these things, just like taking Stephenie’s cotton class, will help you in your overall spinning of anything. So I would recommend this book for every spinner, even if they have never been interested in any of these fibers.

So here’s the good news. I got a couple of extra books and I really only need one. Since it’s Valentine’s day I thought I might give a gift of this book to some lucky commenters. Leave me a note in the comments before next Wednesday (that’s my birthday) and I’ll randomly pick a wine or two.


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