Friday, 28 February 2014

A double book review and a giveaway!

You can imagine my excitement the other day when not only one, but two review copies of new spinning books arrived at my house. As a keen hand spinner I am always pleased when new books are published to meet the needs of today's spinners and present the craft in a fresh and modern way without compromising on solid, traditional techniques.

The first is Yarn Works by W.J. Johnson, first published in the United States. According to her biography, 'W.J. Johnson has been a spinner and artist for more than thirty years. She is the founder of Saga Hill Design, a design business through which she produces her own dye line, creates designs and teaches fiber arts'. The book is presented in soft cover and has 192 pages, priced at £20.


The second is Spinning and Dyeing Yarn by Ashley Martineau. According to her biography, 'Ashley Martineau is a self taught yarn spinner based in Boston USA. As well as working full time in her fibre art studio, she is also the creative guru behind Neauveau Fiber Arts and www.handspunartyarns.com . This book is published in hardback with 207 pages, priced at £25.


With both of these books under my arm I headed out to lunch with my friends Nic and Mary. both talented and experienced spinners who were only too delighted to offer their opinions.

The first thing to mention was that we all really liked both books but whilst they inevitably both covered some of the same ground, particularly on the technical side of things, their focus was very different. Yarn Works is very much geared towards the spinner who wants to make high quality, beautiful yarn to knit with. The step by step photographs of the various processes involved with producing yarn are clear and concise.


Spinning and Dyeing yarn is more about making beautiful yarn being an art in itself, encouraging the spinner to own the whole process from start to finish - even including instructions on building your own spindles and spinning wheel!


It also gives over several pages to celebrating the beauty of hand dyed fibre.


There are also clear instructions on how to create art yarns, once again with plenty of inspirational photography.



Yarn Works on the other hand is presented as a no nonsense, informative manual which ensures that every page is full of clear instructions, appropriately supported by technical photographs.


The major difference between Yarn Works and Spinning and Dyeing Yarn is that Yarn Works offers a set of simple knitting patterns specifically designed with the hand spinner in mind. I think that this is a particularly useful section as whilst there are countless knitting patterns on the market, it is sometimes difficult for the new spinner to approach adapting them for the yarn that they have spun themselves.



However, I couldn't resist adding another image to show the way that Spinning and Dyeing Yarn celebrates the intrinsic beauty of hand dyed and spun yarn.


In conclusion, all three of us would have no hesitation in recommending both books. If you are looking for a good, solid, sensible and well written manual that takes you from raw fibre to finished item then Yarn Works is for you. If, however, you are looking for inspiration to create yarns that are simply beautiful objects in their own right underpinned by good technical information then I would recommend Spinning and Dyeing Yarn.

I would have a hard job if I had to decide which one to part with but thanks to the generosity of Aurum Press I am delighted to say that I have a copy of each of these books to give away. Simply leave a comment on the blog saying which of these books would suit you best and why and we will have a draw for the lucky winner this time next week.

Images used with permission of Aurum Press.
Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of Yarn Works and Spinning and Dyeing Yarn  by Aurum Press.

32 comments:

Spinningfishwife said...

Yarn Works looks like an excellent book to have in a spinning group library. So can I enter the draw for that one please, on behalf of the Haddington Spinners?

Natalie Lyons said...

The Spinning and Dyeing Yarn is the one I know I'd make most use of as it sounds just like my approach to spinning.

Great review Jane!

DianneB said...

Yarn Works looks a more practical book, love the idea of patterns for hand spun.

Brigid said...

I reviewed these two books for Spin Off. I was really disappointed in the Martineau book. I found technical inaccuaracies (muddle over woollen/worsted) and thought the layout was peculiar. Neither book will actually teach you to spin.

couthyquine said...

While both books sound interesting, I think Yarn Works would be my choice. For me, spinning is about producing a beautiful end product, and the yarn itself is a part of that process, not an end in itself.

KarenE said...

The Spinning and Dyeing Yarn book would encourage me to extend my spinning skills beyond my default lace weight worsted 2 ply. Great reviews

Ros said...

I suspect I already have several books in the vein of Yarn Works, so I'll put my hat in the rin for Spinning and Dyeing Yarn. I'd love to try more dyeing and I can always use some inspiring photographs.

Danielle said...

I am a new spinner, but am so interested in the different and unique stuff in spinning and dyeing, i think that would be a great one for me!!
Yell737 on rav

Solstitches said...

I learned to spin a few months ago on a drop spindle and now I am learning all over again on my new wheel.
Thank you for the peek inside these books.
I think the first one, Yarn Works, is the one that would be of the most use to me at this stage.
Margaret

Ruth said...

I'd love Spinning and Dyeing Yarn to give to my daughter. She's an amazing knitter. As her second child entered school, she enrolled in a Fibre Arts program at our local university, and then found the program was cancelled due to cutbacks. She's so disappointed but I'm encouraging her to pursue her passion on her own. This book would the perfect inspiration for her.

Sadie said...

I think Yarn Works would suit me best, as while I'm enjoying spinning I'm mostly seeing it as a means to make lovely yarn to knit with!

ann said...

Both books look fantastic but I would have to choose Spinning and Dyeing Yarn just for the photos of the unusual and beautiful end results.

picperfic said...

I love the look of both books but Yarn Works would suit my love of both spinning and then knitting my handspun...I love the front cover too...lol

BatOutOfHell said...

Definitely Spinning and Dyeing Yarn for me, I'd love to be able to spin art yarn like that!

Artis-Anne said...

Both sounnd excellent books for beginners and as we have had an influx of new spinners at our Llyn Guild I would donate them to the Guild if I was lucky enough to win either of them .Great review by the way

Pat said...

Both of these look lovely and if I won then they would be great addition to my spinning group's library

Linda Whitmore said...

I have so many skeins of handspun yarn waiting for that special project. I think Yarn Works would be the perfect resource!!

Linda said...

I have so many skeins of handspun yarn waiting for the perfect pattern! I think Yarn Works would be a wonderful resource to have in my library.

Happyluckyalix said...

However beautiful those art yarns are, I struggle to find a way to use them. I'm always keen to learn more about spinning good, even and well balanced knitting yarn so Yarn Works would be my choice for the bookshelf. Great review: interesting and relevant, thanks.

tea and cake said...

Being an addicted knitter, I would love to be entered into the draw for Yarn Works, please.
What a lovely thing to have!

minniemoll said...

I'd love the Yarn Works one, art yarns aren't really my thing - they look amazing, but I've no idea what I'd do with them!

Anna said...

I think Yarn Works is the book I would most like to win. Thank you Jane!

murdo said...

my spinning is very much at the ugly duckling stage of development and yarn works would be lovely to help me develop towards a swan :)

Kai said...

I think the Spinning and Dyeing sounds like it could take me to the next level in my spinning.. I like the sound of the other boom as well, but this one really takes my fancy!

josiekitten said...

Just come across your blog via Nic's Knots. I would love a chance to win Yarn Works, it looks fascinating.

cybil said...

I would love some help in encouraging me to knit up my handspun yarn, so I think Yarn Works would be a big help to me. Thanks for the reviews Jane.

Karen Davies said...

I'd love the Spinning and Dyeing book as I'm sure I'll learn loads about colour and yarn design. Thanks for the reviews, both books sound great :)
Karen

Karen Davies said...

I'd love the Spinning and Dyeing book as I'm sure I'd learn lots about colour and making different types of yarn . Thanks for the reviews, both books sound great :)

Unknown said...

Spinning and Dyeing Yarn looks like the book for me too! Just looking at the photos makes me tingle!

Unknown said...

Just looking at Spinning and Dyeing Yarn makes me tingle! Really inspirational.

Unknown said...

Spinning and Dyeing Yarn looks like the book for me too! Just looking at the photos makes me tingle!

Unknown said...

Spinning and Dyeing Yarn looks like the book for me too! Just looking at the photos makes me tingle!