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.