Have you heard of this book?
If you spin yarn, I’d bet an ounce of cashmere that you’ve heard of it. It was published last year by the woman who is right now at the exact centre of the whirling evolution of the yarn-spinning subculture: Jacey Boggs-Faulkner, editor of PLY Magazine. It’s the first book published by PLY, and presumably she hopes to make more. But this is a really fun, beginner-friendly start.
51 Yarns is just what it sounds like: a walk through 51 different spinning experiences. If you spin through it, which is the idea, you’ll get a tasting of the very wide variety of possible ways to spin. For the past several months, PLY has been hosting a spin-along, spinning every chapter of the book but out of order, one per week. There have been competitions on Instagram; it’s looked like a good time.
Rachel Smith, creator and brave leader of the Wool n Spinning community of which I have been a part for two years now, has decided to take us for a spin (as it were) through the book, as a way to do a longer spin-along together. The difference is that we are going to spin through the book in order, and we’ll take two years to do it. This equates to slightly more than two yarns per month.
I waffled for quite a while on whether to participate. I’m having a hard time fitting spinning into my life right now, and it’ll probably remain that way for a while. Longer pockets of focused spinning time will have to mostly be dedicated to sewing, and #spin15aday is just going to be out of my grasp until I have a baby who sleeps reliably through the night. Is it wise to sign up for such a big project?
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be perfect. I probably can’t handle a sweater spin; even shorter spins take so long right now that they depress me. But each of these fifty-one yarns are supposed to be samples: usually an ounce or less. I could put a time limit on it: no more than two nights of spinning each. I’ll try to knit a sample swatch for each, but if I don’t get to it, I’m not going to sweat it. A few hours a week, every other week. This might be the perfect way to keep spinning fresh and exciting for me without bogging me down in a bigger project.
What’s more, I can use my stash! My stash has a wide variety of fibres. Several are in large quantities that I feel like I’ll never get to. But if I can use this as an opportunity to sample for the big spins, I’ll feel like I’m starting them. I can’t tell you how stoked I am to actually play with these fibres, some of which have been sitting on my shelves for so, so long.
I bought the digital version of the book, not because I prefer PDFs (I do not!) but because my plan was to print it all out on cardstock, put the pages in sheet protectors, and keep my finished samples and sample cards in the page protectors. Then I’ll have a little library of starting places.
What’s so cool about this study is that it’s like a survey course. You could come back to any of these chapters and make an entire career just exploring that topic. Many spinners focus on a narrow range of yarns covered by only a few chapters. In fact, I’ve already tried many of these techniques and wools before. But I won’t be repeating myself; there’s just too much to explore. And, ahem, you know how much I love working through a complete book in
a neurotic an orderly fashion.
I’m very thankful this has worked out. It was not my idea, and it took a lot of thinking to even realize this would work for me. It’ll be awesome to keep this kind of creativity going in an otherwise busy time!
Of course, it’s only a few days into January, and I’ve already finished yarn #1. Check back in tomorrow to hear me ramble about it.