Cotton, Flax, Hemp

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.



19 thoughts on “Cotton, Flax, Hemp”

  1. lisa

    The book looks great! Thanks for the valentine give-away! And happy birthday!

  2. Ooh! I actually have some cotton I’ve been waiting to spin, and I’m so very intrigued by flax …

  3. Paula W

    I love spinning cotton, but have not tried flax or hemp, sounds like this book would take away the worries in that!

  4. karen

    Happy early Birthday! I’d love to learn how to spin hemp and flax and cotton. (And wool…) Practice, practice, practice. 🙂

  5. Andrea

    I haven’t had a chance to see the book yet – been eagerly anticipating it. So excited to read a good review!

  6. Karen Hey Torrens

    I´ve spun flax and grow and spin cotton, but never hemp – but I¨m sure there is much to learn from the book that I don`t know!
    Happy VD and happy BD! 😉

  7. Bex

    I’ve had my eye on this book since I saw it on pre release, it would be really helpful for me for spinners certificate of achievement.
    I’m really starting to enjoy spinning cotton and I’m hungry for more info.

    I hope you have a great birthday.


  8. michelle

    I’m all about learning! Happy Valentines day, and Happy Birthday!

  9. Marilyn van Keppel

    I love spinning cotton, hemp and flax…and I adore Stephenie…So this is perfect for Valentine’s Day!

  10. I’ve never spun cotton, flax or hemp…but I do like Stephanie’s writing style and if you say it’s good, then it must be! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  11. Happy Birthday Beth!

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book! Nice to see your post about it.

    I would love to get a gift copy for my bookshelf, so I’m throwing my name into the hat! 🙂

  12. Rebecca

    Happy Birthday! I’ve tried to spin flax, but didn’t put enough twist in it. I’d love to try again, with more direction! My former guild called flax a “four letter word”, not to be mentioned in polite company!

  13. Sandra C

    This is a book I must have. I grow a very small amount of cotton every year and would like to learn how to spin it. Flax and Linen would be a new adventure.

  14. Lynn

    I don’t need the book (gotta leave something to buy at a festival!), but I wanted to say happy birthday and I miss you!!!

  15. Roxanne H

    Hey Beth (I miss you!!!)
    Happy Birthday your 28 right? LOL. I also do not know how to spin hemp or flax and would love to learn how.
    Roxanne up in Saginaw

  16. SallyV

    Plant fibers have interested me for the past year. Stephanie Gaustad has a wealth of knowledge. I was lucky enough to take a half-day class with her at SOAR. Information from this book would be a great help to me.
    Regardless of who the lucky winner is, thank you for sharing.
    Happy Birthday!

  17. Carolyn Ramos

    Happy Birthday! (on Wednesday) I would love to take some classes in spinning these fibres, but nothing comes to Toronto.
    Guess I’ll have to travel south

  18. connie kephart

    I don’t know where I’ve been but I had no idea Stephenie was writing a book and I want it! I remember that cotton class at SOAR–it was amazing and I fell hard for the tahkli and I still dream about her skirt (ok, that sounds weird, but I don’t care!). And it’s early, but Happy Happy Birthday!

  19. I have been spinning wool for decades and I have spin a little cotton, but I feel like I’ve been saving linen for later. Maybe this is later? It sounds like a great book – thanks for your enthusiastic review!

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