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Make Your Own Yarn: Spin With Maggie

Jun 19, 2009

Are you enjoying the new Knitting Daily website? Pretty, isn't it? Those Web gurus, they're talented folk. (Thank you, talented Web gurus!) If you haven't had time to go exploring, you have a treat in store for you! 

On Monday, I wrote about my little spinning "science experiments" where I tried to see how different ways of playing with fiber affected the yarn that I made. I had a ton of people write in saying "OK, you've got me hooked now. Where do I go to learn to spin?" (Evil chuckle...I think it was the pretty fiber. Pretty fiber gets a knitter every time.) 

Handspun sock yarnI get a little thrill every time a knitter says they want to learn to spin. After all, it's the yarn—all that beautiful, irresistible yarn—that gets so many of us into knitting in the first place, and the experience of making your own yarn is rather heady stuff. I've seen the faces of knitters when they spin their first length of yarn...and that look of joy and wonder must be one of the greatest pleasures of a spinning teacher's life. 

This fall, I’m going to learn to teach spinning. Yes, that's right: I want to become a spinning teacher myself, because I want to pass on the fun and the deep satisfaction of making your own yarn. And who do I want to teach me to be a teacher? The woman who taught me to spin, Maggie Casey. Maggie has that magical touch—the gentleness to encourage students to overcome their anxieties, the joy in her craft to inspire folks to do more than they thought they could, and the depth of knowledge to make it fun to ask questions in class just to see what fascinating thing she comes up with! 

Start Spinning and Start Spinning: The Video So when people ask me where to go to learn to spin, I always answer: Take a class from Maggie Casey. The trouble is Maggie can only teach so many classes in so many places. You can learn a lot from her book, Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn. But my friends, spinning is best learned sitting at the wheel with Maggie by your side. So we’ve done the next best thing to cloning her—we’ve produced her video Start Spinning: The Video. It's literally a spinning class on DVD, where she starts at the very beginning and goes step by step through everything you need to know. And the best part is that Maggie isn't just talking to the camera—she's actually teaching a beginning spinner, so it really is just like being in a spinning class. A spinning class where you can set your wheel up in front of the TV, and replay things you don't understand. See a sneak peek of this video, behind the scenes of the making of Start Spinning: The Video

Oh, and did I mention that Maggie's spinning student is Eunny Jang? As in, editor of Interweave Knits Eunny Jang? Being the consummate knitter, Eunny asks questions every knitter would want answered, and learns to spin from a knitter's point of view. 

So where do you go to learn to spin? Right here, with Maggie by your side.

 




Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I'm seeing stars! I'm nearly done with the first row of lacy stars on the Star Light, Star Bright baby blanket for the cutest baby niece on the planet. (Well, ok, on MY planet, anyway.).


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Start Spinning Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn

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The art of spinning is growing in popularity as knitters, new and experienced, want to make their own yarn. All it takes is some fluff, a spindle or wheel, and a little practice! Maggie Casey, co-owner of Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins yarn shop in Boulder, Colorado, and veteran spinning teacher, takes complete novices to competent spinners in Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn.

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Comments

on Jul 18, 2009 2:56 AM

Really good to see some info on learning to spin and making your own yarn. Once you have knitted with handspun no bought yarn ever feels as good!

Have any of you ever used a Schatch ladybug wheel or a Magicraft?  I would love to know what you think of them.

Mmach wrote
on Jun 22, 2009 12:03 PM

I propose we start up a sign-up list to be in Sandi's first spinning classe

LindaA@2 wrote
on Jun 20, 2009 7:15 PM

If Maggie spins as well as Sandi writes, I may have to take up spinning! I so enjoy reading your posts, Sandi. They are interesting, inspiring, and very informative!  Thank you for entertaining me daily!  Your "writer's voice" is welcoming and beats any video. I feel like you're sitting in my living room having a chat with me.

My grandmother's 150+ yr-old spinning wheel sits in the corner of my sister's dining room, collecting dust. If I can't entice her to spin, I might have to visit her more often and run some fleece through that old wood. My grandmother spun because she had to ... or could this have been her respite from other farm chores? I wonder.

Like knitting, spinning certainly looks like a way to slow down, reflect,  and get in tune with what matters.

misfitknits wrote
on Jun 20, 2009 3:34 PM

on the subject of learning spinning: SOOOO jealous that you got to take spinning classes with maggie!!! i've NEVER taken a spinning class. after knitting for a while i found out that people actually DO still spin. i bought a drop spindle and tried to teach myself from a VERY small book. i was terrible. thank the heavens i took the plunge anyway and ened up buying a wheel because i've been spinning *successfully* ever since! i wish i could have had maggie's video when i was trying to teach myself!!

on the subject of TEACHING: i have been also wanting to teach spinning now for quite for some time, even though i have only been doing it for aout 2 years now. i just want people to know that it's not a lost art, there are actually places that manufacture NEW wheels!! and most of all, being 23, i want to be able to teach MY generation about the art of spinning! alas, i haven't tried to teach anyone yet, and i'm deathly afraid that if i find someone willing to learn from me, i'll be a terrible teacher!!! i actually wish that were some articles out there for people who wanted to teach spinning. i think it would be a great article for spin-off! can some one pass that on???? and is there an actual CLASS maggie does for TEACHING SPINNING?

Bobie wrote
on Jun 20, 2009 3:49 AM

I totally understand what is being said here.  I am a lifelong knitter and got excited about spinning when I visited a local fair. I bought my wheel this past winter and mostly taught myself how to use it with a little help from local Guild members (I highly recommend joining your local guild.) So far I have made a sweater, hat and scarf from yarn I have spun myself. It is indeed a very heady feeling when someone asks if you knit the item yourself and you say that you did and that you actually made the yarn yourself, too.

I happened to have purchased Maggie Casey's book as I was learning and I think it's about one of the best on the market.  I can't wait to purchase the video.

Stella Pardo wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 8:53 PM

This is just too hillarious!  I can say this as a spinner.  Yep, there's gonna be a bevy of new spinners.  Boy, once you get hooked, it's hard to stop!  Well, I'm still a spinner, but I have slowed down to knit for a while.

But, really, spinning just does something for you, to you.  For a spell, when I would be grumpy, my husband would tell me that I needed to just go spin for a while!!!  Does that tell you something?

Now, I'm just waiting for some new pictures of homespun, knitted footwear.  Oh, and don't give away your first project from your first spinning.  Once you get past the lumpy phase, you can't get it back.  tee hee

Stella

ealake wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 1:10 PM

I had bought a wheel about 10 years ago, took a few lessons and then it was gathering dust in a closet. I just recently took it up again and Maggie's book never leaves my side when I'm spinning. I've just finished a pair of fingerless gloves knit from Alpaca that was my very first yarn spun, and I'm hooked! BTW - if anyone's in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin or that area - and want to learn more, visit The Fold in Marengo, IL. Toni Neil is an absolutely fantastic teacher as well as one of the nicest people I now know. Between her and the book, you can't miss. They also have a very sweet Shepard named Eric!

Sally (suriving the storms in n. Illinois)

molly z. wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 12:35 PM

I think it is wonderful that you are encouraging knitters and crocheters to spin and Maggie is a great teacher.  But you are doing a DIS-service to all the other great spinning teachers out there, famous or not!  I have been teaching hand spindle classes at my LYS and have not had a failure yet ( the light bulb always seems to go on at some point - over 30 classes. Some go on with it and some were just interested in how yarn is made, but they all learned to actually spin a yarn and ply it and have their own spindle and "First Handspun Yarn" to keep.

Please let your readers know that there are good spinning teachers out there !!

molly z - inventor of the 'flying molly' for hand spindlers

on Jun 19, 2009 12:00 PM

So, I understand that Maggie's book has a section on using a drop spindle and I am wondering if the DVD covers that as well?

ofthesun1 wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 11:38 AM

I'm very interested in spinning my own yarn, as I have issues with wool and many wool blends -  your spinning seems to be geared to the very thing I'm trying to get away from - wool!  Where do I learn about spinning silk and vegetable fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, etc., with or without wool?

Cattina wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 10:52 AM

I would like to see a Knitting Daily about what you need to get started with spinning -- roving, gadgets and whatever else you need. That picture of the muted-plum sock made of handspun yarn did the trick, though I've been resisting spinning for years.

SharonV wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 10:48 AM

When I bought my wheel, the first book I bought was Maggie Casey's "Start Spinning".  It was so helpful with pictures and explanations that were perfect for a beginner like me (who woke up one day and decided to spin).  

I am now the proud owner of the video "Start Spinning".   Maggie Casey's style of teaching on the video is so calm and encouraging, and Eunny asks all the questions I was asking myself when I first started to spin.

Either version of Maggies spinning wisdom is worth having.  

And Sandi, good luck with your new talent.  I'm sure you'll make a wonderful teacher.

SharonV wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 10:46 AM

When I bought my wheel, the first book I bought was Maggie Casey's "Start Spinning".  It was so helpful with pictures and explanations that were perfect for a beginner like me (who woke up one day and decided to spin).  

I am now the proud owner of the video "Start Spinning".   Maggie Casey's style of teaching on the video is so calm and encouraging, and Eunny asks all the questions I was asking myself when I first started to spin.

Either version of Maggies spinning wisdom is worth having.  

And Sandi, good luck with your new talent.  I'm sure you'll make a wonderful teacher.

RebeccaG@4 wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 10:25 AM

I'm just back from the Wool Market at Estes Park, Colorado, and two days of spinning with Maggie. What a fine teacher and wise spinner! I learned so much in two days, as we went from washed fleece to yarn, learned and practiced woolen and worsted spinning, and tasted different fibers. What a challenging, pleasurable time it was. Go, Maggie!

WendyH@37 wrote
on Jun 19, 2009 10:15 AM

Maggie is the BEST!!!!

One of Maggie's girls,

Wendy in NM