Handspun Histories: Spin Off Summer 2020

The authors in the Summer 2020 issue, each in a personal way, share pieces of their own handspun histories.

Kate Larson May 22, 2020 - 3 min read

Handspun Histories: Spin Off Summer 2020 Primary Image

Jane Woodhouse gives the long locks of Karakul, a rare, multicoated sheep breed, a spin in the Summer 2020 issue of Spin Off magazine. Photos by Matt Graves

Spring is a time of change and renewal, and as I write in mid-April, change abounds in this season of social distancing and loss. Renewal can be hard to embrace despite trees breaking bud and new lambs exploring green pastures.


Connect to cotton’s long history in the American Southwest. Louie Garcia, a Tiwa/Piro Pueblo textile artist, investigates a historical weaving technique with his homegrown fiber.

A year ago, my vision for the Summer 2020 issue of Spin Off was about the unrelenting continuity that textiles offer (and have offered for a very, very long time). Through war and famine as well as times of abundance and leisure, people have made, mended, and remade textiles. In cloth of the past, however ancient or recent, we can find creativity, skill, and intention.


Brown bag it in style with a handwoven hemp lunch bag designed by Devin Helmen. Weave a simple sack from singles yarn, perfect for carrying your daily sustenance.

Spring of 2020 was a time of change, but I look to summer for the reminders of what endures. Whether you sit down to spin at a wheel, e-spinner, or favorite support spindle, I hope that you find comfort in your connection to the long thread of handspinners that stretches as far back as it does into the future. Yard by yard, we move forward.


Many spinners find themselves seduced by antique spinning wheels. Learn from Heavenly Bresser which wheels are worthy of rescue and restoration, and get tips on using vintage wheels to produce modern yarns.

In this Handspun Histories Issue, you’ll meet handspinners connecting or reconnecting to the makers, animals, and tools that came before us. Heavenly Bresser shares her utter joy at chancing upon an antique spinning wheel in need of nurture. Jane Woodhouse goes back to her spinning roots with Karakul wool. And follow Louie García’s incredible re-creation of ancient cloth and lost textile techniques. The authors in this issue, each in a personal way, share pieces of their own handspun histories. I hope their stories bring you a sense of continuity, community, and joy.

Wishing you peace and perfectly filled bobbins,

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.