Spinning in the Old Way
by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts
I’m reviewing both of these books at the same time because, for all intents and purposes, they’re basically the same. High Whorling came first. My copy is only a few years old, but the original edition was 1998. Spinning in the Old Way came out in 2006, and while the pictures are slightly different, and there are some cosmetic changes, the content is pretty much the same. (Not exactly the same, mind you, but in comparing the two books, I honestly didn’t notice a lot of substantive differences, so if you already have one of these two, you probably don’t need to buy the other one.)
When I started spinning in 2004, I bought copies of just about every spinning book I could find, and High Whorling was unique for two main reasons.
1. It focused solely on using a drop spindle.
2. It focused even more on using a specifically high-whorl spindle.
Almost every other spinning book I have tends to be broad in nature. They discuss everything from where the fiber comes from, to how it’s prepared, to the parts of a spinning wheel, to drafting, to finishing … everything. It’s all in there, like that old tomato sauce commercial.
This book (if you’ll forgive me for referring to the pair of them as if they were one and the same) is refreshing because it focuses on making yarn with one tool only–the high-whorl spindle.
The author does, of course, discuss things like fiber sources, carding, and how to use a niddy-noddy. Just because she’s focusing spindling doesn’t mean she’s not making sure you know everything you need to know to USE that high-whorl spindle. That’s exactly the point. You could take this book, get a spindle, and some roving, and go off into a corner for a while and come back making yarn. And, unlike some other spinning books, you’re not going to feel rushed into trying out a spinning wheel.
The illustrations in both books are hand-drawn by the author. Just simple, line drawings, but they get the point across. There are no fancy, color photos, no attempts at being cool and modern. This book embraces a method of making yarn that goes back to, well, forever. It’s informative, interesting, helpful, and does exactly what it promises to do.
High Whorling is harder to come by, but Spinning in the Old Way is widely available and well worth the look.
Reviewed by Deb Boyken
Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website,
Knitting Scholar, can be found at http://knittingscholar.com .