Crafty Reads: The Intentional Spinner

So I know I said I would be reading Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet this month, but then I realized that since all my other July posts were spinning-related I should read a spinning related book, too. So CSKTFYF will be my book for August. This month instead I will be discussing the classic intro to spinning – The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin.

The first part of the book covers many different types of spinning fiber. The detail on where the fiber can be found and how it goes from its natural state to a spinnable fiber is incredible. The section on the science of fibers has a beautiful table of characteristics of different fiber types. It also includes some tests to help identify mystery fibers. Over and over throughout these chapters I wondered why so many great fibers are so rare. Ramie sounds great, but in the 7 years since this book was published it hasn’t taken off in much commercial yarn. 50/50 silk/cotton sounds like the ideal blend, but I’ve never tried it! It was fun to see the sidebar on the burgeoning organic cotton movement – much more vibrant today! I particularly loved this quote about protein fibers:

From animals as large as bison and as small as spiders, protein fibers are a natural wonder and a testament to both nature’s abundance and human ingenuity

— page 45

The next part of the book is the mechanics of different spinning and plying techniques. It starts at fiber prep and ends with washing the yarn and leaves out no detail in between. It is so much information that it can feel nearly overwhelming – it made me feel badly that my process is so much less thoughtful. I liked that after all of that detail she made it clear that the perfect yarn is the one that makes the cloth you want.

It was a great refresher to read back through all of this information. It also reinforced that I enjoy my distinctly unintentional spinning practice. I love buying prepared fiber and turning it into whatever yarn I feel like making that day. I will bring some tips from the book to my spinning, for sure, but I am also happy to leave the most advanced spinning to others.

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