The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson

The book begins with a recap of some spinning basics including fleece handling, hand carding, combing and blending fibres. The following chapter discusses spinning singles for plying, so that you can spin the singles you need for the yarn you want to make, including a section on how to spin the perfect fat singles. This is not a how to spin book, though, so it isn’t aimed at the absolute beginner.

The bulk of the book takes the reader through a comprehensive list of different yarn constructions, with instructions for making the yarns and suggestions for what they might be used for. If you like art yarns there are instructions for many kinds of fancy yarns, both classic (with a whole chapter on boucle) and novelty (including tailspun and beehives), but even if you prefer a more ‘practical’ type of yarn you will find plenty of useful information, troubleshooting tips, and ideas for combining techniques.

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was the sock yarn experiment: in three parts, the author makes yarn and knits two socks from the same fibre but with different yarn constructions to assess the relative durability of different types of yarn. Even if you don’t spin for socks (not something I’ve attempted yet) it’s good to know what you can do to make your handspun last longer.

The majority of the yarns pictured in the book are made in natural cream coloured fibre, which allows the construction of the yarns to be seen and compared easily. The effect of colour is illustrated very well with plenty of examples of inspiring handspun yarns showing creative ways to combine construction and colour. Swatches and a small number of finished items (including the aforementioned socks) show how handspun yarns can become wearable items.

In an envelope in the back cover of the book is a handy set of reference cards so that you can keep just the card by your wheel when spinning.

This is an ideal book if you are stuck in a spinning rut and need some inspiration to try something new, or want to expand your skills beyond making standard 2- and 3-ply yarns.