Start Spinning by Maggie Casey

April 1, 2019 Book Reviews 4 ★★★★★

Start Spinning by Maggie CaseyStart Spinning by Maggie Casey
Published by Interweave Press on April 1, 2008
Genres: Crafts, Nonfiction
Pages: 120
Format: Paperback
Source: the library
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble
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For knitters, crocheters, and weavers ready to make their own yarn, this handy guide provides detailed instructions for spinning both on a spindle and a wheel, and offers a special section devoted to troubleshooting and wheel maintenance that keeps projects on track. It offers a comprehensive look at the various available fiber options, choosing and preparing each type of fiber for use, and crafting these materials into ready-to-work pieces. A final chapter on the various uses of spun yarn focuses on project planning, with definitions and context for measuring wraps per inch, determining yards for specific projects, and choosing a yarn size.


This is the basic “intro to spinning” book that I’ve been looking for. The subtitle is “Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn,” and the book lives up to both title and subtitle—not that you couldn’t go a lot deeper, once you get started, but this book covers everything a beginning spinner needs to know.

The book is clearly written, informative, and filled with photographs that illustrate equipment, wool and prepared fiber types, and spinning and drafting techniques. Ms. Casey starts out with an introduction to wool, explaining qualities like staple length, microns, crimp, and so on, and how these differ from breed to breed, before covering some of the most common forms of commercially-prepared wool (roving, combed top, sliver, and batts) as well as hand-carded rolags. She then defines the vocabulary of spinning, covers the general types of spindles and explains how to use a drop spindle. She identifies all the parts of a spinning wheel, explains the differences between scotch and irish tension, single and double drive, and offers examples of a variety of bobbins, flyers, and wheels from several manufacturers. She discusses in detail how to spin using a spinning wheel, offers clear explanations (with accompanying photographs) of various drafting techniques, talks about how to recognize and avoid over- and under-twist, gives several options for plying (including one for plying on a spindle), and goes into how to skein your plied yarn and wash to set the twist. She lays out the differences between spinning “woolen” or “worsted,” The author even offers some thoughts on using your handspun yarn. Finally, two appendices discuss, although in less depth, how to choose, wash, prepare (card), and store a fleece, and how to maintain your spinning wheel.

After a year and a half of spinning (albeit not as frequently or diligently as I would wish), I’m not exactly a novice, but I’m still enough of a beginner to find Start Spinning extremely useful. I borrowed it from the library, but I will be adding it to my fiber-arts bookshelves as soon as I can find a copy.

Challenges: Counts for Pop Sugar Challenge 2019 (#10: a book about a hobby), The Backlist Reader Challenge, and the Library Love Challenge.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Library Love Challenge 2019
  • POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2019
  • The Backlist Reader Challenge 2019

4 Responses to “Start Spinning by Maggie Casey”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I said the same thing, about 10 years ago. I barely had time to knit; why would I start spinning? But the pull was irresistible, and I finally gave in. 🙂