Current Issue

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. 

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Recent Issues

  • 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.

     

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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 yarn—including the collection of shawls and scarves.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Spin-Off Summer 2011

    The Summer 2011 issue of Spin-Off has a special focus on felt! Starting with the basics and fifteen fibers meant for felting, we move to needlefelted dolls, felted accents to add to your handspun, and using prefelts for wet felting.

    But this issue isn’t all about felt! We’ve introduced a new department for more experienced spinners, and this edition focuses on what effect ratios really have. There are also tips for making your own stacked spindles without special woodworking equipment, silk spun for a princess, and we guarantee you will be impressed (and potentially inspired) by the included spindle-spun bed-size blanket woven on a rigid-heddle loom.

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  • Spin-Off Spring 2011

    If you’re looking for a bit of color—look no further—the Spring 2011 issue of Spin-Off has some great ideas for how to blend the colors you already have into new and interesting combinations—the possibilities are infinite. Speaking of infinite possibilities, take a look at the Handspun Gallery of Helix Scarves and get your needles ready. Ready to sink your hands into some fleece? Try Wensleydale—their lustrous locks are seductive.

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  • Spin-Off Winter 2010

    The Winter 2010 issue of Spin-Off magazine is so full of fiber that if you snuggled up next to it, it will keep you warm. Open the pages and you'll find (images of) angora, qiviut, alpaca, and sheep's wool tucked into every available space, plus lots of great tips on how to spin these fibers. This year, we've included a six-page Natural Fiber Directory in the issue—this is a special section that you can pull out and take with you for reference when you're shopping for natural fiber. As a bonus, we included enlarged versions of the charts for the Qiviut Shawlette by Sandi Wiseheart on the back of the directory (the charts are also included with the pattern in the magazine). The pattern for the half-gloves shown on the cover is included in the handspun gallery, along with six versions of the half-gloves showing just the tip-of-the-iceberg of what can be done with the pattern if you vary the fiber, color, and/or grist of the yarn you use.

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  • Spin-Off Fall 2010

    The Fall 2010 issue of Spin-Off magazine is chock full of spinning secrets as well as great dyeing techniques. There is page after page and article after article about natural dyeing. Whether you are new to dyeing or are looking for some color inspiration, this issue is perfect for you. Move from dying into some great spinning techniques like self-plying and core spinning. Got your handspun yarn and ready to create? Find several accessories that are sure to be quick projects but lasting garments. Find all of this and more in the Fall 2010 issue of Spin-Off.

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