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Respect the Spindle

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Enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to the current trend of DIY crafts, the hand spindle remains one of the most productive, versatile, and convenient tools for creating stunning fiber arts from home, as this beautifully illustrated guide from a veteran spinner and spindle aficionado demonstrates. With step-by-step instructions, this essential manual details the basic steps of spinning and then advances to the more complicated spinning wheel, showing how to use the spindle to make specific types of yarn, explaining traditional spindle spinning techniques, and detailing five simple projects designed to instill confidence in creating a variety of yarns with this simple tool. Combining fascinating historical narratives, traditions, and cultures from around the globe with vivid photography, this all-encompassing tour of the spindle also boasts easy-to-follow, contemporary techniques and styles that affirm the tool's enduring legacy.

136 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 2009

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Abby Franquemont

3 books30 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 94 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
44 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2012
This is going to be inflammatory. You have been warned.

I ordered this book the day I picked up a spindle, and waited impatiently for Amazon to take its sweet time sending the book to me. In the meantime, of course, there was no way I was putting that spindle down, and I spun and spun and spun while I awaited the book that was touted as the spindlers' Bible, written by the woman touted as the omnipotent goddess of spinning.

In the couple of weeks it took to arrive, I learnt almost everything that was taught in its pages through my own trial and error. The book was nothing short of useless to me. Even the illustrations weren't enough to salvage it as a coffee-table book - the whole work lacks polish and gives the reader a sense that it was slapped together in a hurry to meet some imagined niche in the market - which I believe to be the case.

The US's obsession with the cult of celebrity has infected even the grass-roots movement toward handcrafts, even down at this extreme end where mad people like me spin their own yarn on tiny stick-and-disc implements not dissimilar to those used in Egypt tens of thousands of years ago. For some reason, the author of this book has been elevated to the status of some all-knowing cult leader and we're all meant to throw our money at her - oh, sorry, I mean at Interweave, who have deftly inveigled their way in between Franquemont and the general populace, as they have done or are threatening to do with other spinning "greats" like Margaret Stove, Judith Mackenzie and Jacey Boggs (list not exhaustive).

In short - don't waste your time.
Profile Image for Abby Franquemont.
Author 3 books30 followers
December 11, 2011
It wouldn't let me add this book to my shelves without including a rating, which is weird for me to try to do because I wrote it, so I have no idea how to rate it, really. That said... well, I use it as a text when I teach. ;-)
Profile Image for Velma.
707 reviews60 followers
February 21, 2015
Disclaimer: I'm friends with the author, so my gushing review should be taken as gospel because I know what the hell I'm talking about.

I came to spinning with a spindle late: I learned long after mastering spinning with a spinning wheel. But I figured, "Hey, if little kids can do it, how hard can it be for a talented girl like me?!?" Well, yes and no. Yes, I can do it, but it does require some instruction. And I'd say that, short of an in-person class with the author (which I highly recommend), Respect the Spindle is just about the absolute perfect source of that instruction.

Written by the renowned spindle guru Abby Franquemont, Respect is packed with everything needed to turn a wanna-be into an expert spindle-spinner (I know, Abby, I know: you don't like that term; too bad, because I do.) With humor, patience, and more skill than you can shake a stick (or rather, spindle) at, Abby takes the reader through the basics and then continues into more advanced techniques, demonstrating throughout the book in clear, explanatory color photos.

An absolute must-have for any self-respecting (oh yes, pun intended) fiber artist, your copy will sadly not arrive with the irreverent, hand-written annotations that Abby graciously penned throughout mine, but I do believe that it will nevertheless become your favorite spinning reference book.
Profile Image for Teddy.
113 reviews14 followers
August 4, 2011
This book is amazing. I especially recommend it for anybody who's interested in spinning but who has a disability that affects their ability to use a treadle.

I didn't really notice it at the time, but when you start (or return to after a ~25 year absence) spinning and go through the myriad of books, videos, and tutorials on the topic, it all assumes that you're going to move onto a wheel. The spindle is considered valuable, but as a learning tool, not quite a toy but not for those interested in serious production. I was aiming for a wheel simply because it didn't occur to me that there was another option, which is a big thing for me because an old injury means I can't work a treadle for any length of time - I was looking at e-wheels, but they are hellishly expensive and I'd still have to sit for extended periods, something which is more manageable than treading but not ideal.

Then I read this book, and I find that actually, staying with the drop spindle is an option; not only an option but a good option. I feel like I should have known that anyway, because the spindle lasted a long time and is still in use in some parts of the world, but see above point about everything seeming to assume you'll move on. In fact, according to the author, drop spindles are better for some types of yarn, and those happen to be types I'm interested in making (weaving yarns, alpaca fibre, etc.) Instead of thinking about a wheel I'm now using the techniques described to speed up my production using drop spindles, and I'm producing plenty of yarn even in this beginner stage, as I get better practiced and faster I have no doubt that I'm going to leave the amount of yarn I could produce on a wheel well behind; especially when you consider that I can only treadle for ~20 minutes if I don't want to cripple myself for a couple of days.

Not to mention, learning how to spin when walking around (something it didn't occur to me to try until I read this book and the author's description of a childhood in the Andes spent playing games whilst spinning) has added to my ability to cope with pain; I have to walk around sometimes or I seize up, there's only so many things you can do while walking, and spinning takes enough of my concentration that it provides a bit of distraction from the hurt + bonus yarn. It's not exactly something I could do with a wheel.

Granted there aren't a lot of spinners with my particular circumstances, but I think there's plenty in this book for the able-bodied spinner too.
Profile Image for penny shima glanz.
449 reviews49 followers
January 4, 2010
When you know an addition to your bookshelf will change your life and make something you enjoy doing much more enjoyable and easier, how do you write a proper review?

When I first started spindling I was very shy and scared and really really bad at it. Some people I asked for assistance had a very anti-spindle bias; they saw a spindle as a stepping-stone on the way to a wheel. I knew that was silly and that for many cultures there were spindles, not wheels doing the yarn production. I am very lucky that I have some very good friends who love spindling *and* wheels and they helped me get on the right direction. I'm still not very good.

When I heard Abby was writing a book I was thrilled. I found her articles and blog posts informative and very helpful over the years. A few months ago she had posted a video tutorial that introduced me to the concept of winding a butterfly and my spindling immediately got easier (there's a photo tutorial on p 86).

When I finally got my hands on a copy (thanks to a surprise gift from my husband) and I actually had a chance to sit and read through this book while fondling holding my spindles I was thrilled and thankful.

This is a soft cover book, so it is light and could be taken along in a bag. It's not spiral bound, but I don't find I care about that in my spinning books. The photos are clear and if a technique is being demonstrated it is done so with very precise steps and I'm very thankful for the plain background and Abby's simple clothing.

Just reading this book will not make you a better spinner overnight, you still need to practice but I think Abby has written a superb book. This book is valuable for anyone, whether you spindle or not, thought if you aren't interested in spinning you might only like the first 47 pages of history, science, and other knowledgeable things. I think this will help me if anyone wants me to try to explain the basics of spinning to them. I wouldn't go out and ask to be hired as a teacher, but when you spindle in public, people are interested and this book should help me figure out a clear and concise way to explain what I'm trying to do.

The most amusing part of the book was seeing two different ways to wind a cop and realizing that my other life prepared me for this one. I used to make my own bassoon reeds and the thread knotting method for that is very similar to winding a cop using the crossing method. I love it when my life experiences overlap!
Profile Image for Niffer.
696 reviews15 followers
March 30, 2015
Excellent. The author has a wonderful perspective on the usefulness of multiple spinning tools, discusses briefly the benefits of spindles versus wheels without denigrating either, and then goes on to give an incredibly complete review of types of spindles, how to spin on them, and which ones tend to be best for different tasks/fibers.

Well worth adding to your spinning library.

edit to add:
Okay, so I read a couple of the less positive reviews and some of the feedback and I decided that maybe I wanted to clarify some of what I liked about this book and why I agree it might not be for everyone.

The author spends a lot of time doing things like discussing physics and things like larger objects will take more effort to get in motion but will stay in motion for longer, smaller whorls will spin faster, bottom whorls will be more stable, etc.

If you're a beginner looking for a "how do I spin on a drop spindle," there's a lot of information that probably you don't care about. Don't get me wrong, there's a whole section on starting to spin and it's got a lot of useful information, but I don't know that it has more information than any other beginning spinning book. I know when I started spinning, I didn't really get the concept of drive ratios and why I should care. I just wanted to know how to do it.

But after a couple years of spinning, I started to care. The same with this book and spindles. There's a tremendous amount of good information in it--but it might not be something that you particularly care about when you're first starting. I've been spinning for 20 years, but mostly on a wheel. I can use a drop spindle, but I've never used a support spindle and I've been curious about different types of spindles, like tahkli spindles and the pointy Russian spindles and the huge Navajo spindles. This book discusses all of these different types of spindles and the hows and wherefores of changing your technique to use different spindle types.

Is this a totally useless book for a beginner? No, I don't think so. It does give you basic instruction on how to spin. It also gives more advance information. Is every advanced spinner going to get a lot out of this book? Not necessarily. But if I have a question about how to use a particular drop spindle, or the advantages of top whorl versus bottom whorl, this is going to be the book on my shelf that I will reach for first.

Overall, I think it's well worth being in any spinner's library.
Profile Image for Tomomi Landsman.
97 reviews1 follower
April 24, 2020
I picked up this book at a spinning shop in Kyoto, Japan called Kin no Hitsuji, which translates to Golden Sheep. It was a bit of an impulse buy and was a little pricey at 3614 yen.

I am a brand new spinner and was looking for a book specifically about spindle spinning. I am not very interested in buying a wheel, so it was nice to feel validated in sticking with spindles entirely. The parts about this book that I enjoyed most are where Franquemont writes about her personal experiences and outlook on spinning. I felt the how-to parts are rather weak, and I don't think I will be referencing this book for the majority of learning to spin. I feel like drafting is the area in which I would like the most help, which this book just didn't do for me.

The book also has four patterns at the end of the book. Only one, a hat, is for crochet, which I plan to check out in the future.
Profile Image for Ashley.
154 reviews12 followers
October 16, 2019
Once you've tried out spinning just a bit, this is a perfect resource to use as you think about what type(s) of yarn you most want to make and which tool(s) will help you achieve that. Book contains excellent information about how your tools (heavy spindles, light spindles, supported spindles, walking wheels, flyer and bobbin wheels, etc.) impact the type of yarn you make. Good photos and succinct accompanying text to explain drafting methods, ergonomics, and ways to ply. I picked up this book when I was first learning to use a spindle and felt overwhelmed by it then. After I used online videos, including Franquemont's, to understand the basics of drop spindle spinning and make some (rather bad then less bad then almost acceptable) yarn, that's when it was most useful to come back to this book.
174 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2022
Well, I bought a spindle, and now I'm using it, so I guess it's a good book!

Seriously though, I spent a long time working out whether I would like to use a spindle instead of a spinning wheel. This book was really helpful in my decision-making, and in my first experience using the spindle. While there are lots of videos on YouTube, it has been useful to have a book that I can go back to time and again to answer the questions that puzzle me as I continue my journey with this spindle. It's much quicker to pick up and flick to the right page of the book, than to browse through everything on YouTube and listen to people talk and talk and talk.

The book has way more information than I need. Even though I'm a scientist, I don't really want to read about the science of spinning, but I was interested to read about the different styles of spinning and styles of spindles.
Profile Image for Laurie.
475 reviews28 followers
July 6, 2018
Very helpful for a beginner like me - helped me to envision the entire process of hand-spinning yarn. I know I will come back to it after I feel confident I have the process down so I can re-read and see what I missed the first time around because I did not yet have the experience to understand. I am doing well after only a couple of days of practice. Having spent thousands of hours of my life handling and creating with yarn since I was a child, I seem to have an affinity for adding new skills to my repertoire. I want to take a project from hand spinning through finished product to see if I like it enough to keep doing it and at that point, determine if I want to try a wheel or an electric spinner, or keep to the spindle.
Profile Image for Kasey.
90 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2021
This book is an excellent resource and Abby Franquemont's background in spinning is so interesting (she learned as a child in Peru, where her parents were anthropologists who studied textiles). I also really recommend the companion video. I was able to get both from the library and very quickly, the tips and visuals made a huge difference in my spinning. Abby explains so clearly how spinning works, which helped me understand better what I wasn't doing quite right. Her troubleshooting is spot on, too. All in all, a great book that makes a strong case that you don't have to use a wheel to efficiently make good yarn (which is good, because I'm still struggling to get the wheel going).
Profile Image for Christina.
92 reviews
June 23, 2022
Pshew, my brain hurts. I had no idea that learning about spindles could be at the level of a college course! That's what I love about this book, though. She takes her craft seriously and provides you with everything you could ever want to know in order to take it seriously as well. There's even an entire chapter on physics! I was really just planning on getting a spindle to see if I like spinning without having to drop the massive price for a massive wheel... Exactly the sort of person Abby begs her readers not to be. Well, she convinced me! I'm going to respect the spindle a lot more and for a lot longer now.
Profile Image for Jordan.
7 reviews6 followers
January 8, 2017
Fantastic introduction to spindle spinning! Franquemont gives us a general history of spindles, an overview of the physics behind spinning, practical wisdom and tricks of the trade, while encouraging new spinners to try out whatever feels right for them. I've completed a couple of skeins of yarn while reading this book and I honestly don't think I would have made such quick progress without Franquemont's wisdom. I recommend this book to every person looking to break in their first spindle, improve their skills, or explore other methods beyond their routine.
Profile Image for Belinda.
245 reviews43 followers
July 7, 2020
Why you should Respect the Spindle

Abby is a powerhouse of knowledge. This book is authoritative and covers everything you need to know about spindle spinning. I recommend it to beginners, but also to those for whom the spindle was a thing to begin with but move on from... The book is as much for you as a newcomer. Come in, read, learn the ways of the spindle and respect it as a simple yet effective tool. Never forget- all textiles the world over were spun using some form of spindle or hand spinning techniques for thousands of years.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
426 reviews16 followers
April 24, 2021
Seems extremely overwhelming for a novice. It is nice way to get all the information you find on YouTube and various blogs all over the Internet in one place, though. And it is fun to look at all the different spindle designs. The level of detail is... Sometimes more than I'd think would be called for. But I guess some people need to be told how to put a spindle down on a flat surface without it rolling away. There's also a couple of patterns in the back but those too seem superfluous to the scope of this book. Padding?
Profile Image for Nathaniel.
60 reviews3 followers
November 17, 2021
This book is packed with information! The history of drop spindles, their differing anatomies and the physics of how they work, and even how to make, break, & fix them. Impressively thorough spinning instructions complete with multiple methods and troubleshooting solutions for common mistakes. There are photos for every step of the process, in addition to the written explanations. My favorite of the oh so many drop spindle how-to books I've been reading and the one I'd recommend to anyone wanting to learn.
Profile Image for Alejandra.
686 reviews2 followers
June 10, 2018
I did not find this sufficient to learn how to spin (classes with a local instructor got me off the ground), but it is a great resource to fine tune your spindling and to know which terms to search for when looking for videos on specific techniques. I really enjoyed the chapters describing how the different elements of the spindle and the fiber contribute to the yarn you make. Physics is fun.
30 reviews31 followers
December 14, 2019
An excellent beginner's how-two book. My only complaint is that maybe some of the techniques would be easier to understand in motion (i.e., video), but in print form, the step-by-step pictures and detailed descriptions are the next best thing.

It's really difficult to describe in detail a craft that involves so much intuitive movement and muscle memory, but this book succeeds.
20 reviews
September 13, 2017
I just finished reading this book for the second time. I first picked up a spindle in 2009, and I learned some new things in this reading that I missed the first time. I'd like to have a copy for my own library eventually.
Profile Image for Mary.
266 reviews2 followers
September 23, 2018
I have always been curious about all fiber arts--embroidery, crochet, weaving, spinning among others. This is a good survey for anyone just starting out (me) or anyone who wants to improve their skills.
227 reviews2 followers
May 11, 2019
Very thorough book about spindle spinning by Amy, who learned to spin as a child. It has not only the history of spindles, but lots of tips and techniques for anyone interested in using a spindle. This is one I want for my personal library.
234 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2021
Seems to cover everything

I checked this out as an intro to see if I wanted to try spinning. I blew right through some pages because of the amount of info. However, if I take up spinning, I will get this book.
Profile Image for Greyling54.
186 reviews14 followers
March 18, 2022
Fantastic book for the beginning or experienced spindler. Franquemont does a superb job of explaining spinning on a spindle, including getting into the physics of how it all works. Of course, you can skip that part if you want. I also recommend the video of the same name.
9 reviews
March 11, 2018
A very helpful book for begging and advanced spinners. I still use mine as a reference all the time.
102 reviews
July 22, 2018
Very detailed but sometimes a bit tedious and difficult to read and follow. Good photos and illustrations.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
228 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2020
Thank you Abby for a clear, in-depth insight into the world of spinning. I loved sharing your passion and seeing your amazing skillfulness.
Profile Image for Jean.
44 reviews1 follower
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 5, 2022
Looked like a good resource, but I was struggling with a spindle, so I just bought a spinning wheel instead.
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