Whether it’s books or equipment, it pays to have an informed opinion before making an investment. If you’re ready to get into fiber arts, you’re going to want to get the best value you can when you make a purchase that may become your constant companion in the living room, studio, or travelling to classes or fiber groups.
This is a huge investment, and making the right choice can make the difference between a hobby that you love or an expensive wheel that sits in the corner unused. I’ve taught spinning for many years now, and I keep a wide variety of wheels so that my students can try them all. I have a never-ending fascination for the ingenuity of spinning wheels, both historical and modern. They come in different shapes and sizes, with different tension methods, different spinning ratios, and a huge variety of first impressions. From the simple, modern lines of a Louet to the classic fairy tale look of a Kromski, or the pure sculptural art of an Olympic or Golding wheel, it is clear that spinning wheels continue to stimulate our imaginations.
When I purchased my first wheel I chose it based on appearance rather than functionality. I lucked out, as it was an Ashford Traveller, which is a great little wheel. For me, though, the appearance was important. I planned to take the wheel to demonstrations at Rendezvous in the mountains, and to historical performances I did as a volunteer project at my kids’ schools. Every year I dressed in Revolutionary War period costume and visited the school, teaching about the role that women in general and spinning in particular held in the American Revolution. The Ashford wheel was great for these projects. It never occurred to me that I would have an issue finding a period appropriate stool to park on.
Top whorl… bottom whorl… Turkish… make your own… old cd on a pencil… making a decision about your first drop spindle can be a little confusing. Don’t worry! They aren’t as expensive as a spinning wheel, so you can use that as an excuse to own several!
It really is easy to make a functional drop spindle, but that’s not always the best choice. Sometimes it’s worth paying for the work someone else has done, engineering a spindle that doesn’t wobble all over or spin backwards. These reviews will be open to all input from readers. Since spindles are handmade, the tiniest tweak in them can make the difference between one that works well and one that doesn’t. The more input from readers, the better! We can keep a tally of the makers who have the most great spindles and the fewest lemons.
It’s a great thing that there are so many spinning and fiber arts books available now. But it’s not always easy to tell which one is right for you. Some are eye candy– great to look at but not all that informative. Others give a lot more technical detail. Spinning, weaving, basketry, knitting, and more. I will include reviews of some out-of-print books as well, so you can keep an eye out for good ones at garage sales, library sales or estate sales.
Look for updates here frequently– I’ll be adding reviews regularly.
Other Fiber Equipment
Everything from looms to knitting needles… what’s durable, what’s not. What’s pretty, what’s not. And what’s too huge for your house and what’s not. Practical reviews of fiber equipment, with some new ideas about how people are using them.
How many ways can a fiber artist use a round kid’s knitting loom? Are hand cards all created equal? What’s a blending board? Who makes the prettiest knitting needles? Plastic vs. bamboo? Reviews and discussion are coming soon.
Is there anything you would like reviewed? Comments are always welcome here at SlowYarn! Tell us what you think, share your ideas, or comment on the content. Or you can contact me directly at Kelley@SlowYarn.com.
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