Review: The yarn book

The yarn book : how to understand, design, and use yarn 9780713669558 by Penny Walsh is a book we are adding to the spinner’s library. It is not specifically for spinners and I thought it might be of interest to knitters as well. The book covers the history of spinning, materials, yarn spinning mechanisms, handspinning techniques, yarn in fabric and contemporary yarns. The handspinning techniques chapter isn’t so much about how to make the yarns as describing and defining different types of yarns, especially novelty yarns. This could help a knitter have a better understanding of yarn so she can better choose commercial yarn. The chapter on yarn in fabric is primarily about weaving. The book defines many different types of fabric (from barathea to velvet).

I have done quite a bit of reading on the history of spinning and on different types of fibers so this was largely a review, but in general it looked quite good. The book gives a pretty good overview to many aspects of yarn, but it really is an overview. To be fair, I read the book quickly today because I need to bring it to our meeting on Tuesday (and I’m busy tomorrow)—I purchased the book in November but I just now got it read, procrastinator that I am.

Some of the spinning techniques and their photos were a little confusing to me. For example, p.87 has a pictured labeled “spots being inserted into ply” and the same photo on p.92 is labeled “plying thread winding across slub”. Both captions seem appropriate but using the same photo makes it more confusing for me.

Also, some of the fabric definitions confuse me, such as the difference between “Crepon: crepe yarn in weft only, giving fluted vertical pleats” and “Moss crepe (silk): woven from pairs of alternating ‘S’- and ‘Z’-ply crepe yarns in weft only to give a spongy handle and good draping quality”. Crepe is defined as “pairs of alternate ‘S’- and ‘Z’-plied yarns in wasp and weft,” so if you put this into the crepon definition the structure sounds to me like it is the same as moss silk.

One other thing I am unsure about is the placement of bamboo in the cellulosic fibers (with flax, cotton, hemp, jute, sisal, nettle and paper) rather than with the regenerated fibers, like rayon and viscose. My understanding was that bamboo yarn was made in much the same way as rayon and not flax and hemp (see these sites).

Despite these problems, I think it is a good overview collecting together a lot of information, and a book I can easily see JQ or DJ being interested in.

Rating: 3.4

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