Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: Spin-Off Magazine Fall 2014 Issue

And, here we have another issue to talk about! I'm nearly caught up with the Spin-Off magazines, but then I'll need to double back and work on the PLY reviews. This issue had a few interesting articles about mechanics, but I didn't find it to be as strongly a connected theme as the last issue was. If you want to know more about the tools of the trade, and how to fix them when they don't work quite right, this issue is great for that.

The Winding Well article is superb for those who have difficulty understanding how to wind fresh yarn onto a drop spindle, building a firm and stable cop as you go. I learned the hard way; there is a clear best way to wind the yarn onto the shaft so it doesn't get loosey-goosey (or worse, the outside yarns get buried deep within the inside yarns). No matter which spindle type you use (top, bottom, support, etc.), the X wind on will make your spinning experience smooth and problem-free. Additionally, the author discusses the proper way to wind on freshly spun yarn so you neither add nor subtract twist from the yarn. It seems like a simple fact about spinning, but it often gets overlooked. Have you ever had the toilet paper on the roll suddenly start unrolling, only to stop short of completely emptying onto the ground by the glue on the cardboard roll? Right, me neither. Anyway, this picture shows what you're doing when you change the orientation of the spindle when you wind on yarn:

Several people have asked me about blending boards, and I have professed that they fill a specific niche, which lies somewhere between hand cards and drum carders. There are things you can do with a blending board which would be difficult to reproduce with the other tools. It's not just a cheaper version of a drum carder, nor is it an oversized hand card. Blending boards really shine when you want to make several rolags at once, with lots of color blocks and well-placed texture. If you want to know more about the testing process, this article offers an abridged view of all three tools in making these kind of rolags.

Ever since I began weaving, I became more interested in the weaving patterns in the Spin-Off magazines. This Autumn Leaves scarf/shawl is stunning in its simplicity, though I have to admit, I don't really understand how to make an inlay while weaving. Even after reading the instructions twice, I still don't think I comprehend. Oh well, that's why the Internet invented YouTube. Nevertheless, I think this weaving project is within my weaving skills--ie, beginner. I'm still not sure how I feel about the length (it seems a little short), but it does seem like a cuddle-worthy shawl.

In the end, I think this issue is most useful for those who are interested in tools, their use, and reuse (ie, antiques). If you're just getting started with spinning, this article may not be the best reference, though there is a great article about up-take speed and tension for those who are thinking about getting a spinning wheel. Care to share your responses to this issue? Share the discussion below or over on Facebook