Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Review - The Intentional Spinner

About 18 months ago I took a spinning workshop with Judith MacKenzie McCuin. I warned her when I arrived that I was not taking the class to become a better spinner (it had been 20 years since I'd done any kind of spinning at all) but because I wanted to become a better weaver. I wanted to learn more about fibre characteristics and how spinning a fibre can change, or perhaps I ought to say modify, those characteristics.
During the class she announced that she had a new book in the works - The Intentional Spinner. My copy arrived while I was on holiday, and while I haven't had a chance to read all of it, I want to urge all weavers to rush to read it.
For many years I have recommended my favourite resource A Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers for fibre and fabric characteristics, but that is an expensive book and not everyone wants to add a pricy book to their collection. The Intentional Spinner is much more economical at about $26 US a copy. It doesn't have the breadth of information contained in the Guide, but it covers the basics for natural fibres that most weavers prefer.
It has the added benefit of discussing in much greater detail than The Guide the mechanics of spinning and how those will affect the yarn and therefore the fabric constructed from it. The two books together make a great platform of essential knowledge weavers need to know.
Weavers need to understand the basics in order to make appropriate choices for the textiles they wish to weave. Judith includes information on both woven and knitted constructions which makes this book an invaluable resource for both weavers and knitters.
The extent and depth of Judith's knowledge takes my breath away. Her writing style is clear and concise. At times I have to simply stop reading in order to absorb the concept and information contained in one sentence.
She includes information on the newer regenerated fibres which ought to help dispel some of the assumptions that people have made and allow weavers to make intelligent choices about what fibres they will and will not use. She also points out that these regenerated fibres have been around since the early 1920's and '30's and are only now becoming economically viable as petroleum products become more and more expensive. The regenerated fibres are also bio-degradable, while the petroleum fibres are not. With an even hand she lists the advantages and disadvantages neither promoting nor denigrating any yarn allowing us to determine what we need in order to create textiles to suit our purpose.
The two day class I took was filled with nuggets of information. Now that I have The Intentional Spinner, I feel like a little piece of Judith now lives in my studio. A most welcome addition. :)
Who knows, I may even take up spinning again. :)


Diane said...

Thanks for the info about the intentional spinner - I have it but haven't read it yet. Another book that I've found useful is Clara Parkes book - Knitter's book of yarn - the info about the yarn characteristics is useful whatever the intended construction method.

Laura said...

There are a number of very good books on fibre characteristics but people need to know that they need this information. I'm hoping Judith's book will shed light on how to judge a yarn and make appropriate choices. :)

I do a seminar called A Good Yarn, and this book will definitely be listed as a resource.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an in-depth review! I'd been considering this book and now I know I can buy with confidence.