Types of Yarn

A pair of lambs at Beech Grove Fiberworks. Photo by Kate Larson

Farm Fresh Fleece

There are two ways to grow wool: standardized and in great quantity, which is perfect for commercial use, or fleece by fleece, in what’s called a “handspinner’s flock.” Commercial doesn’t have to mean bad or lifeless–there is great wool to be found in repeatable lots, and those sheep can produce a lot of wool to…

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In Praise of the Underdog: Down Breeds

Are you someone who always roots for the underdog? Who likes to support the little guy, or find the unappreciated hidden gem? I am, and that’s why, when it comes to wool, I’m a fan of the Down breeds. Many spinners stick to a fairly standard selection of wool: Merino, Bluefaced Leicester, maybe some Romney…

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The Spinning Book that Changed My Life

When I first joined Interweave, a little over 10 years ago, I wasn’t yet a spinner. It may surprise you that the editor of Spin-Off may have been spinning for less time than you, but it’s been quite a decade. (I’ll tell you how I learned to spin below, but that’s not the reason for…

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Practical Spinner’s Compendium Review

“Nothing is created alone!” says Sara Lamb in The Practical Spinner’s Guide: Silk. In the Practical Spinner’s Guide series, four extraordinary mentors share their advice on all the ways to spin plant and animal fibers. The books in the series work together to give you a deep, inspiring and—yes—practical exploration of fibers and their uses.…

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Natural Fiber Directory 2016

In a world where so much is synthetic and manufactured, spinners have a unique connection to what is natural and real. Whether you spin wool or alpaca, cotton or silk, you have a piece of the natural world running through your fingers when you spin fibers grown by a farmer, rancher, or shepherd. You have…

The contest looms were pre-warped, but all of the weft yarn was prepared and spun during the event. Photo: Cheryl Nachtrieb.

Sheep to Shawl with a Paco-Vicuña Twist

Do you like to spin wool and mohair? Have you ever tried lusciously soft Paco-Vicuña? The Recycled Lamb, a popular fiber shop in Golden, Colorado, helped to organize a unique spinning contest earlier this month at the National Western Stock Show. Much like a sheep to shawl contest, teams started with fiber and a warped…

Pyrope Shawlette by Heather Zoppetti

Spinning Luxurious Camel in Brilliant Garnet

Sometimes you spin creatively, or in pursuit of mastery.  And sometimes you spin just to feel the fibers run between your fingers. With the camel/silk blend that Heather Zoppetti chose for her Pyrope Shawl, you can do either. Heather spun the yarn for this project on a Tibetan-style supported spindle, making laceweight that was fine,…

Curious and cuddly-looking, huacaya alpacas have soft, wavy fiber and comical expressions. Photo by Michelle Coburn

Cuddle with a Camelid: Spin Alpaca and Camel

Huacaya Alpaca “Is it a lamb or a llama?” Whitney Dorband, a proprietor of Belvedere Fine Fibers (and former Spin-Off staffer), hears questions like this one often. Minding her huacaya alpacas at the National Western Stock Show, she gets lots of attention for her adorable (if a bit reserved) critters. To some people, an alpaca…

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Decisions, Decisions

Every December, I try to come up with crafting resolutions for the upcoming year, because the ones about exercising more, eating better, budgeting my money, etc., just go nowhere. By now, I’ve learned to refine my existing skills rather than take on new crafts. I’d rather get better at spinning, even after 20 years of…

Spin-Off Winter 2016: The Luxury Issue

Spin-Off Winter 2016: The Luxury Issue

The Winter 2016 issue of Spin-Off is actually the last one of 2015, by a vagary of publishing, and my seventh as its editor. This is the Luxury Issue, devoted to the indulgent in fiber, equipment, and intangibles. I asked Linda Ligon, Interweave’s founder and still our guiding star, for her thoughts on the new…