Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mini Review: Spin-Off Magazine Spring 2012

This is an old review I did for the Spring 2012 issue of Spin-Off magazine, which featured Lincoln wool. It's fun to read through things you've written in the recent past. My experience reading this magazine was of great excitement because I hadn't read any books or magazines which focused solely on fibers and handspun yarns. In light of my future reviews of Spin-Off, Ply, and various books, I thought I would post this so you could see how Spin-Off impacted me more than 2 years ago. Cue the time machine!

Originally posted on March 8, 2012:

Hey everyone! While I'm still working on trying to get this white cormo yarn to take great pictures, I figured I'd put up a little post about a widely read spinning magazine, Spin-Off. With a subscription, you'll also get access to member-only downloads regarding fiber prep and spinning techniques on a regular basis, as well as some other things. These are some nice perks, but what's inside each issue is where the real prize lies.

Because I belong to my local guild and have access to our guild's library, I've had a chance to read many of the back issues of Spin-Off, some of which were from the early 1990s--yes, the projects in those issues were VERY dated. :) The ads have obviously changed, but the general layout and the goals of magazine have stayed relatively the same. So, without further ado, let's chat about the most recent issue, Spring 2012.


The magazine always starts off with some paid advertising and book reviews, as well as "letters to the editor." I'm paraphrasing here. The stuff they talk about in the front matter is informative, and if I had the money/time, I would probably read most of those books based solely on the reviews. They also have a section entitled "Armchair Traveler"--or something like that--where they take the reader to some part of the world to talk about the types of wool you'll find there and some key places you must visit if you happen to visit that locality. As an anthropologist, I kind of smirk at the title, since it hearkens back to the days of early Anthropology, where there were "Armchair Anthropologists/Archaeologists"--basically, they were financiers who had an interest in other cultures or an obsession with artifacts but otherwise could not or would not travel to those far off locations to pursue scientific work; no, that was left up to the educated people who were surely underpaid by their employers. Sigh, tangent over.

The middle chunk of the magazine is dedicated to: 1) teaching new spinning techniques; 2) talking about fiber prep; 3) focusing on a specific fiber; 4) controversial issues; 5) ...you're getting the idea. Anyway, this issue focuses on Lincoln longwool. If you've never had the chance to spin it/dye it/knit it, well, I (and the Spin-Off writers) think you're missing something. It's a strong, thick, shiny, long-stapled wool that is sadly underused. It may not be perfect for a scarf or mittens, but Spin-Off comes to its rescue to educate its readers on how important, and rare, this breed is. If you want to know more, Spin-Off is still available for purchase, so stop by your local yarn shop or craft shop and pick up a copy. If you like it, I'd suggest getting a subscription.

They also had this fantastic article about where the twist stops when a spinning wheel is your tool. I actually didn't really give it much thought prior to reading this article, but afterwards, you can bet that I've begun to notice where the twist stops now! I like how the author writes the article too, since she takes you through this narrative of scientific method bloopers and "A-ha!" moments.

There was also a nice article about flicking locks and combing locks, which inspired me to drag out some Lincoln locks and dye them..I don't have normal fiber combs, but I've found that hair picks work just as well, if only a bit awkward to use. Those locks are on the drying rack right now, so I'll tell you how it goes later.

The project in this issue focuses on how to use Lincoln wool, how it should be spun, how it feels when spun properly, and the kinds of uses its best for. They chose a beautiful crocheted market bag to show off Lincoln wool's ability to withstand abrasion and weight. And boy, does it sure look good doing it! I'll need to either get better at crocheting, or I'll need to find a knitted alternative for a market bag. I have 3 ounces of Lincoln top that I want to dye now, so I'll need to pick out a pattern soon! :D

If you liked this little mini-review post, I'm hoping to do more in the future. I don't get the chance to read many books since I'm pretty busy, but I'll do them as often as I can.