gift guide for makers #2: for the spinners

spinning yarn is one of my top winter activities, and i’ve got some gift suggestions for your favorite spinster! earlier this year my pal Alanna Wilcox wrote and self-published a glorious book titled A New Spin On Color. it celebrates colorful handspun yarn, and all the effects one can create from the same multicolored fiber. the examples and techniques are blowing my mind! i can’t wait to spend the upcoming cold months experimenting with Alanna’s clever formulas to make some amazing handspun at my wheel.

check out the different color effects of weaving, crochet, knitting and needlepoint!

the book begins with some color theory, then some basic fiber preparation and mechanics of spinning. then comes the fun part: three meaty chapters detailing more than 20 specific ways to achieve: Solid & Crisp Colors, Barber Pole & Heathered Yarns, and Blended & Muted Yarns, all shown using the same dyed top! plus, every yarn sample is shown with a knitted swatch to show how it looks in fabric form. GENIUS!

the photographs in this book are stunning, and clearly illustrate Alanna’s techniques. i’m fascinated by the different yarns that can be spun from the same dyed roving! so often we spinners are drawn to gorgeous hand-painted fibers, but then are disappointed by how they look after spinning. she explains various factors that influence the end result, ranging from the size of the project (for example in a sweater, the body and sleeve will yield different stripe patterns because the sleeve circumference is much smaller), to the color spacing and placement within the fiber.

she talks about different ways of color-blending: at the fiber stage, in the spinning or in the plying.

above photo shows cabled (left) vs. 4-ply (right) yarns spun from the same dyed fiber. they look completely different! i can’t imagine any handspinner NOT loving this book.

A New Spin on Color by Alanna Wilcox can be purchased via her website.

the most-coveted spinning accessory on my own list is a spare set of brightly-colored flat-pack bobbins from Akerworks. unfortunately, though i’ve been waiting patiently for nearly a year, they are still not yet available for my model of spinning wheel (Louet S10). but if your dear spinner’s wheel is on the list, i bet they’d be thrilled to have some of these beauties (and i’m super jealous)!

Akerworks also makes all sorts of other cool 3-D printed fiber tools: spindles, lazy kates, flyer threaders… and new products are always being developed.

what spinner wouldn’t appreciate some fluff to play with?  there are infinite fiber dyers worthy of supporting, but one that i discovered this year and just can’t get over is Three Waters Farm, a sheep and goat farm in North Carolina. Mary Ann’s color sense is playful and saturated, and i’m smitten. she dyes lots of different breeds of wool, and even has a monthly fiber club too.

my final idea comes from my spinning guru Jillian Moreno, who knows a thing or two about what makes a spinner happy! and organization is one of those things. i’m always wasting time looking for my pliers (to tighten up my wheel) or yarn-labeling tags, so she’s inspired me to make up a spinning tool kit with everything in one container, always ready to grab. i may have to follow her lead and get myself a Tom Bihn Spiff Kit, which does indeed look like the perfect vessel for all that stuff, and a gift your spinner will thank you for every time she doesn’t have to search the house for all of her bit and bobs!

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