4 Things You Know If You Live with a Handspinner

We thought we’d give a shout-out to the brave and supportive souls who live with a handspinner.

Elizabeth Prose Jan 3, 2022 - 5 min read

4 Things You Know If You Live with a Handspinner Primary Image

Basic spinning toolbox of spindle, handcards, and niddy-noddy. In the basket are a selection of fibers you can spin without processing with tools or adapt to your own purposes with a set of handcards. Photo by Devin Helmen.

We thought we’d give a shout-out to the brave and supportive souls who live with a handspinner. You know who they are: They’re the husbands, wives, significant others, family members, and housemates who cohabitate with a person who has a serious fiber fixation. We understand; it isn’t easy living with a handspinner.

1. Spinners produce hairballs.

On the floor of a handspinner’s home, bits of stray fiber join the usual suspects such as pet hair and dust bunnies. Not to say that spinners are untidy, but over time, a brightly colored rainbow of leftover wool often gets wound around the brush of the vacuum cleaner. In the laundry, the bits of fluff felt and adhere to clothes and cling to socks. People who live with spinners prepare themselves for such situations by always having a pair of scissors close at hand and a lint roller within reach.

live with a handspinner

This is only a fraction of the fiber stored in Spin Off Editor Anne Merrow’s basement. Photo by Anne Merrow.

2. Spinners take up a lot of space.

Handspinners love fiber . . . and yarn . . . and tools . . . and other crafts, too. After a while, the assorted accoutrements of their spinning habit will encroach on a shared living space. First comes a growing mass of tubs filled with fiber in the basement. Eventually, spinning wheels, drumcarders, and even a weaving loom take over a spare room. A supportive companion doesn’t bat an eye at discovering hidden fiber purchases in unusual places. They get used to watching out for drying yarn hanging in the shower. Doesn’t everyone have a basement full of wool?

live with a handspinner

Angora rabbits make great “starter” fiber animals. This Satin Angora from Red Sky Farm has a color pattern called “broken black.” Photo by George Boe.

3. There will be talk of expanding your family.

I was once lucky enough to live with a cat (RIP Lulu Pearl) who would carry a ball of yarn from my second-floor yarn room (see #2) down the stairs, place it on the floor, and then meow over it. She never mauled it—I like to believe that she wanted me to knit more! Pets and handspinning may not always mix so easily. Yet there will come a time when a spinner asks their loved one about enlarging their “family,” not with a new puppy, kitten, or even a baby, but by acquiring a fiber-producing animal. Urban chickens are “a thing,” so why not keep a sheep, goat, or curly pig in the backyard? Getting an angora rabbit might be a good compromise.

live with a handspinner

“Lisa, we need to talk.” From It Itches by Franklin Habit

4. Your behavior changes.

It starts out slowly, even before sharing living quarters with a spinner and her fleeces. Date night discussions revolve around the color, texture, and feel of wool fibers. The non-spinner soon develops a greater appreciation for handmade items. Their vocabulary expands, and the names of fiber producers, spinning teachers, and spinning wheel manufacturers need no further explanation. Once things get really serious, the non-spinner always knows where to find the most comfortable seat at the LYS. On road trips, they automatically pull over when serendipitously passing a yarn shop or fiber festival. They may discover an unexpected benefit: a spinner probably won’t balk at the space, cost, and enthusiasm that their partner’s passions bring to the relationship. Spinners know that the non-spinner is fully committed when they aren’t scared off by talk of getting sheep (see #3).

I’d like to thank Jim and Ben for providing honest accounts of their experiences of living with handspinners Anne Merrow and Elizabeth Prose for this blog post. Your patient support of two handspinning fiends is much appreciated!

Elizabeth Prose is the former associate editor of Spin Off magazine.