Spinning Around: Spinning, Dyeing & Knitting Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Classics
by Jeannine Bakriges
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that I’m something of a book addict. I love having them, reading them, using them, studying them, buying them, shelving them, holding them, admiring them. And there are definitely topics that I have a hard time resisting (like, say, knitting and spinning).
So, when I heard about this new spinning book from Schoolhouse Press, well … It’s not that I don’t have other books on spinning. I have plenty of them. DVDs, too, because you can never learn everything there is to know, right? So, when a new book knocks on your door and is being lauded by people who “know spinning" as a wonderful book, naturally I invited it in to take a look.
Spinning Around is a spinning book that devotes itself to making yarn so you can knit Elizabeth Zimmermann’s patterns. More or less. Elizabeth Zimmermann is the author’s inspiration, but that’s really a bonus, because to me, the book is really about making the yarn.
The book is divided into three sections, the first of which is spinning. The author talks about her own experiences as she guides you through scouring fresh-off-the-sheep fiber, and then getting the fiber ready to spin with carding, combing, flicking techniques. She discusses spindles and spinning wheels, and touches on drafting techniques. Basically, she covers all the things you would expect in a spinning book, (though many sources these days start with ready-to-spin wool and go from there).
Next stop is color, where she guides you through basic dyeing techniques so you aren’t limited to sheep colors.
These two parts alone are worth the book. The photos used to illustrate each step are clear and in color, capturing the dynamic spinning process as well as still photos may. There are other books that cover the same material, more or less, but this one does it well.
The final section, though, is a hand-spun tribute to Elizabeth Zimmermann. The author goes through some of EZ’s canon of designs, giving suggestions, samples and guidance as to what kind of wool you should use for each. She gives brief patterns for each, too.
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 .