Current Issue

This issue of Spin.Off encourages you to cultivate your stash like a gardener cultivates a plot of vegetables: by encouraging it to grow where needed, pruning carefully, and savoring the fruits of your labor. Is your stash a riot of color, full of mixed painted braids? You can ply it, draft it, or combine it with other colors to make beautiful yarns. Do you have small quantities of goodies? Spin them for a precious afghan or work them up into a sampler afghan. Bursting with sweater quantities? If you’re intimidated, start by sampling a small bit to discover what the fiber wants to be before diving in headfirst. The timing is perfect—March is National Craft Month (though every month is craft month at my house!).

Stashers, be proud. Get out your stash, admire it, and get ready to enjoy every last scrap of it.

Happy spinning,

Anne Merrow



Recent Issues

  • Spin-Off Winter 2015

    We have a joke in the office that I look for reasons to put a cute goat photo anywhere there’s space in the magazine. Roger Sawley’s Australian Heritage Angora goat Maple is so adorable—how could I resist? (Read about this unusual breed on page 50.)
    In the Natural Fibers issue, it’s hardly a challenge to find a reason for some gratuitous goat! A lot of us suburban and city-dwelling spinners may not get a regular fix of fiber on the hoof (or paw or pad), so it’s important to be reminded of where the good stuff comes from now and then.
    This fall I’ve had a chance to visit with some fiber beasts. So far I’ve resisted bringing any of them to my home, but I haven’t been so lucky with fleeces! It’s easy to be overcome by wool fumes.
    So I’m living vicariously through fiber producers around the world, from Jill Graham’s Cashmere goats to Kate Larson’s sweet Border Leicesters. And lest we forget the plant kingdom, this issue has a number of features on cotton.

    Happy spinning,


    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Fall 2014

    In this issue, Constance Hall surprises herself with the variety of yarns she could spin, from burly to dainty, on a single spindle. Amy Tyler’s lively article explains how spinner and spinning wheel work together, bound by delightful forces of physics. This issue of Spin.Off celebrates all tools from lofty to humble. We hope it inspires you to look at an old piece of spinning equipment in a new way.


    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Summer 2014

    The world is our classroom, and we're ready to travel through space, time, and culture to learn all we can about the world's spinning traditions. The Summer 2014 issue of Spin-Off features articles from those who have the world and studied the spinning traditions of our ancestors. Learn about Icelandic fibers and spinning, silk reeling on a Loas mulberry farm, prehistoric textiles from the American South, the 2013 Tinkuy gathering of weavers in Cusco, Peru, and much more. Make your own convertible travel shawl and learn how to make yarn for Telemark embroidered gloves and mittens.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Spring 2014

    This issue is all about color. There is a lot of great information about how to work with color-how to dye with natural and synthetic dyes, how to blend for color, and how to combine colors of yarn you already have on hand.

    Karen Pike takes advantage of receiving a less-than-desirable fleece from eBay to explore different dye techniques. Katie Weston shares her process as she creates a batt matching the colors of an inspiring photo Michelle Boyd offers tips for using the color wheel to blend solid-color roving to create the deep complex colors traditionally used in tweed fabrics. For this issue, we also interviewed a number of fiber artists whose work is notable because of how they work with color. If you've ever doubted your ability to work with color (and even if you haven't), you'll love their tips and ideas for breaking boundaries and overcoming fears. Plus many more unique approaches to integrating color in your spinning.

    Projects include a shawl created using different strengths of the same dye, color study potholders, a hat that uses three different natural-colors wool dyed in the same dyepot to create a gradient effect, and a photo translated into rug hooking. 

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Winter 2014

    In this issue, we’re looking at natural fiber with a special focus both on unusual fibers and spinning fiber heroes. The unusual fibers we look at include chinchilla, Spanish moss, barrel cactus, three types bamboo, and mercerized wool. We look at spinning fiber heroes, such as Sally Fox (figuring out a way to grow her colored cotton), Deborah Robson (illustrating that spinning a rare-breed fleece can help save the breed from extinction), and Ella Baker (recording the cotton-spinning techniques of ancient peoples).

    In addition, we look at the Northwest Regional Spinners Association standardized system for judging skeins, how to tackle a new-to-you fleece, plus the story of a journey on foot spinning through the countryside of Wales. Projects include a lovely shawl from black as black Zwartbles wool, a woven mercerized wool shrug, a crocheted tunic, and lovely bags in the shape of a cotton boll and flax flower.

    This issue also includes our annual special pull out Natural Fiber Directory full of suppliers and mills from across the United States and around the world.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Fall 2013

    Our Fall 2013 issue has a special focus on the tools we spinners love. Our authors have shared stories of the tools they’ve loved: Elizabeth Fahey tells the tale of wheel maker Norm Hall; Peter Teal delves into his discoveries about wool combs in the 1960s that brought them back into spinning practice; Judith Helton went to great lengths—traveling through time and space—to learn the backstory of the antique wheel she purchased from a thrift store; Debbie Ellis had a chance to spin on Mahatma Gandhi’s charkha; and Marion Wheatland took her wheel to Antarctica for a special project to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sir Douglas Mawson’s Australian Antarctic Expedition.


    There are also tips on how to use your tools better, from how to stop a spindle from wobbling, to how to use a flick carder, to how adjust your wheel so that you can spin fine yarns. And if you are looking for a wheel, this issue includes and updated and expanded Great Wheel Roundup complete with most commercial wheels and their stats.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Summer 2013

    Our theme this issue is history. To this end, we cover more than a few fascinating topics—understanding our own desire to spin by looking at the spinning of our ancestors, imagining what it meant to spin cotton sewing thread in a time of need, understanding the spinning tools that were simultaneously a result and a cause of the Industrial Revolution, and learning how setting up a warp-weighted loom can make history real for people of all ages.

    You will learn how twist affects the finished fabric in weaving and a spindle spinning technique used by the Blackfoot people. There is a special section on the ancient technique of sprang that will teach you the basics as well as why this netting technique works better with high-twist yarns—making handspun the perfect yarn for sprang.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Spring 2013

    We've asked spinners who make a living at their craft to share their stories and provide tips for those of you who are interested in teaching, selling your handspun yarn, or starting a spinning business. We know that not every spinner wants to make a living spinning, but even so, we all have an interest in the people who cultivate the fiber, shepherd the animals, carve the tools, dye the top, to make your spinning dreams that much more attainable.

    Also, get a glimpse into the life of an eighteenth century spinner using a Great Wheel for production spinning, salivate over the handpainted top of mail-order dyers, and ruminate with a shepherdess as she contemplates what she's learned from her sheep. Cast-on a lovely pair of fingerless mitts, a scarf that maintains the character of hand-dyed roving, and an endlessly customizable pattern for hats.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Winter 2013

    In the Winter 2013 issue, we're looking at natural fiber. We take a look at wild silk. We explore many facets of wool: Comparing American Wensleydale to British Wensleydale, looking at sustaining sheep ranching in Northern Wyoming, and ensuring the quality of wool available to spinners with the Canterbury Prize Wool Group.

    You will learn the best direction to spin for the way you knit, how to match millspun yarn, how to clean fleeces with good bacteria, and how to use a blending board for artistic results. Find patterns for a brioche cardigan and an everyday shirt, as well as a fun collar for crisp days and a magical child's cape for the holidays.

    This issue also includes our annual special pull out Natural Fiber Directory full of suppliers and mills from across the United States and around the world.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Fall 2012

    The Fall 2012 issue is bursting at the seams with juicy tidbits about spinning wheels, from how to pack your wheel for shipping to a survival pack for when you’re spinning away from home.

    There are ideas for guild demonstration projects and for spinning fiber from sheep normally considered for their milk, not their fiber.

    There are stories about wheel makers as well as many things you can make with your handspun

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Summer 2012

    The Summer 2012 issue takes a look at portable spinning (and projects) with a focus on spindles. We compiled a spindle primer to answer some basic questions about "what is the best use for different spindles?" and "which spindle is best for your fiber?" You'll enjoy learning about Russian-style lace spindles and a fun and fast way to Navajo-ply as you spin on a spindle. The issue also includes a sub-focus on socks—one of the best portable projects we've found. Spinning Tips takes a look at why you would overply (for socks, of course), Ann Budd shares socks she made before and after taking a workshop at the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR) last year, and Rachel Rodnunsky shares a pattern she has developed for handspun crochet socks.

    In addition to spindles and socks, enjoy topics such as taking a closer look at the role of crimp in comfort, how to work with singles yarn, as well as scarf and mitt patterns.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Spring 2012

    In this issue, Kate Larson explores color blending by flick carding locks and with this process she created the lovely colorwork knitting on the cover. We have included two articles about recycling yarn from garments; imagine the treasure trove of awkward luxury fibers at local thrift stores begging to be reborn into something you'd actually wear. We also have a number of fascinating articles—including one by Jacey Boggs about the mechanics of spinning on a wheel and how exactly twist is inserted into fiber and another by Peter Teal in defense of using wraps per inch to measure your yarn. The fiber basic focus this issue is on Lincoln Longwool and the issue includes two projects that take advantage of the wool's unique characteristics (a dog leash and market bag). The issue also explores Bedouin spinning in Qatar, creating a fiber map of your area, and much more.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Winter 2011

    In this issue, we’re looking at fiber close-up—really close-up—by examining crimp and diameter in detail to understand why fiber does what it does. Beth Smith has written a great article about spinning to the crimp—it’s a pretty straightforward concept and a wonderful place to start when you’re deciding how to spin your yarn. Deb Robson has written a really fascinating article about fiber diameter—she sent samples to a lab to look at the diameter of fiber from rare breeds of sheep (in addition to some that are not so rare). She walks us through the scans in a very logical way, explaining what the findings mean for spinners. And Judith MacKenzie examines the difference between hair and fiber with her wonderful ability to ask big questions and then answer them in lyrical ways.

    Our fiber basic focus is on yaks. And our developing your skills department takes a look at purchasing and sorting a fleece. This issue also includes our largest ever special pull out Natural Fiber Directory full of suppliers and mills from across the United States and around the world.

    Learn More
  • Spin-Off Fall 2011

    All about the spinning wheel! Trace the history of the wheel to its possible origins by learning about Jonathan Bosworth’s reproduction of a Han Dynasty spinning wheel from a Chinese stone carving created 1,200 years before scholars believe the spinning wheel was invented. Visit to the Ashford Handicrafts spinning wheel factory in Ashburton, New Zealand, and learn how this business has thrived through two world wars and fire to provide the world with spinning wheels. Join the discussion with current custom wheels makers and where they see the craft headed.

    Learn More