I’ve had this book for years, but I admit I just started reading it. You see, I’ve been collecting fiber arts books – spinning, knitting, dying, weaving – for years, and most of them haven’t been read in their entirety. I’ve used them as references, found the bits and pieces of information I wanted in that moment, and then sat them back on the shelf for later. This year, I’m hoping to spend more time reading the books through (mostly so I don’t feel quite as much guilt when I compulsively buy new ones).
Respect the Spindle is written by Abby Franquemont. It’s a great blend of science, experience, history and how-to. When I was first learning how to spin, Abby’s videos on YouTube are what kept me going, and are often the first place I’ll point new spinners. In short, she’s been a big influence on me as a spinner, especially since I have a deep love for spindles.
The first section of the book deals with the “what” and “why” of spindles. The short version is that spun fibers have been part of human history for longer than we realize, and spinning wheels are the current norm in the western world, but they’ve only been around for about 500 years. Like any change in technology, the use of wheels means we’ve lost some of the skills and techniques that come from spinning with spindles. They are too often overlooked – especially in terms of production spinning – even though they have been the norm for thousands of years, and in some cultures still are.
Where the spinning wheel is a printing press, a spindle is a pen. Both require skill and training to operate, and there are things you can do with one that you can’t do with the other. – pg. 9
I love how she broke down the science of spinning in a way that is technical but still accessible. There is so much that goes into spinning that becomes intuitive or tactile, we do it without thinking about it. Breaking down the science of what’s going on always fascinates me. Understanding the physics of spinning makes troubleshooting much easier, and Abby does a great job of explaining common problems and changes you can make to fix it.
As with the “whys” of spinning, Abby does an excellent job with the “hows”. Having learned to spin from her fantastic youtube videos, I wasn’t surprised at all with the way she explained how to spin – drafting, managing your fiber supply, winding on – in a way that is clear and and easy to follow. If you’re a person who understands and absorbs information well while reading, this book could be all you need to get you started with spinning. She also covers many common problems and how to trouble shoot to get the yarn you want.
Abby’s laid back, conversational writing style makes this book easy and relaxing to read. Her years of experience and research give her the ability to present the information in a way that is clear but doesn’t feel dumbed down. Even having spun for years (and having used Abby’s resources in the past) I was able to learn new things and gain a better understanding of the tool and how to use it. I think this book is excellent for any spinner – new or well seasoned – regardless of how familiar they are with a spindle.
Spindles are so often overlooked or seen as a “starter” or “introductory” tool to spinning. Respect the Spindle does an excellent job shining light on just how useful, versatile and important spindles are. I highly recommend this book for any spinner, especially if paired with a beautiful spindle and some enticing fluff.