The Wheel Reinvented: Spin Off Fall 2022

The fall issue takes a new spin on the tools we love.

Kate Larson Aug 19, 2022 - 3 min read

The Wheel Reinvented: Spin Off Fall 2022 Primary Image

Physical therapist Carson Demers talks about finding wheel that comfortably fits your body. Photos by Matt Graves

The phrase “reinventing the wheel,” typically a rebuff, often comes to my mind. The idea is, why bother figuring out something that is settled, something now optimized and made modern? So, why do we learn to spin yarn, knit sweaters, or bake bread when efficient machines now replace these hard-won hand-skills?

Why? Because I—and likely you, dear reader—find doing and making and learning to be a vital part of being alive in this world. And I think that’s why our tools can become so endearing to us. Tools are our companions as we explore. Together, we face challenges, find our flow, and wander off the beaten track. Spinning wheels, in particular, find a way into our hearts.

“Reinventing the wheel” is a common adage, but I chose to think of this issue of Spin Off as “the wheel reinvented.” We are indebted to the wheel makers, authors, and instructors who explore the old technology of handspinning with fresh eyes. New generations of thinkers and makers continue this work—are we not so very lucky?

Meagan Condon uses modern technology to rehabilitate an old wheel.

When breakthroughs occur—from sealed bearings to modern minicombs to e-spinners that fit in your purse—change ripples out into our community as it always has. In this issue, researcher Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa follows the traditional bulky yarn of the Coast Salish peoples from spindle to the Salish spinner to modern wheels for XL yarns. Meagan Condon explores the possibility of using 3D printing to rehabilitate antique wheels with missing or broken parts, and Kerry Bullock-Ozkan shares her wheel adjustments for accommodating a blend of cotton and cottonized hemp.

Deborah Held breathes new life into leftovers from other projects for her tweed socks.

Reinvention can also come in the form of renewal. Deborah Held entices us to try some tweed yarns by giving colorful leftover fibers a second life, and Madeline Keller-King shares simple tips for extracting a palette of colors from the humble onion skin.

We are a community of makers, and I’m so glad you are a part of it.

Kate Larson is the editor of Spin Off and spends as many hours as life allows in the barn with her beloved flock of Border Leicesters.