Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spin-off for knitters

I know that a few of my readers spin... but more of you don't. I want to share a spinner secret with you that I only learned myself a few months ago... Spin-Off magazine. I picked up a couple issues last summer when I was thinking about learning to spin, and I read them cover to cover. I thought to myself, "even if I don't catch the spinning bug, this is a great magazine for knitters to read!" (You may stop making those side remarks about the spinning bug now.)

In the Summer 2008 issue, here are some tidbits that I appreciated as a knitter:
  1. Book reviews. This issue reviewed two of my favorite books, Shear Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn and A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns. Both have crossover appeal for knitters and spinners (and weavers, too, in the case of the first title). A Fine Fleece includes a commercial yarn and a handspun yarn for each pattern. The photography is lush. Put these on your Christmas wish list if you haven't already read them! In addition, this issue's review also covers some fiction, including a YA historical/fantasy novel (A Curse Dark as Gold) that sounds intriguing.
  2. Armchair Traveler. This regular column describes yarn shops, farms, and other fiber destinations in a particular area. This month covers Kentucky and Tennessee. If I had read this before a trip to a family reunion in western Kentucky a couple of years ago, we might have had a fiber stop along the way!
  3. Interviews. This issue's Q&A is a conversation between Judith MacKenzie McCuin (spinning rock star) and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (knitting blogging author rock star). 'Nuff said.
  4. Patterns. All patterns include information about the yarn spun to make them and a narrative about the choices the spinner made. Fascinating! This issue included a Peruvian-style crocheted bag, a pair of knitted socks I adore (Journeyman Socks), and lined mittens (knit the outside, then pick up stitches at the cuff and knit another layer for the lining - how smart!).
  5. Articles. Ergonomics for fiber addicts - super helpful stretches and other info! There is usually a cultural piece, as well, like National Geographic for fiberists. This issue profiled handspun and woven rodilleras of Guatemala.
  6. Handspun Gallery. This regular feature shows the same pattern made by many spinners. In this issue, we see ten versions of the Morning Surf Scarf (the scarf pictured on the front cover). It's like a bit of Ravelry in every issue, but with yarn specs for spinners.

Then there's all the technical stuff related to spinning. The Summer 2008 issue also included information on:

  • How to use a McMorran balance
  • Behind the scenes at a fiber mill in Michigan
  • Flick carding
  • How to choose your first spinning wheel
  • A project spun two ways
  • Colored cotton (natural cotton colors, that is)
I read this issue last summer but picked it up again last night when a small child was sitting on me and I could reach nothing that I hadn't already read. Boy, am I glad that I did. These are lovely magazines that any knitter would enjoy. Consider picking up an issue next time you're at your LYS.

As for me, I already subscribed. I'll write about the Fall 2008 issue in another post.

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