Remembering Priscilla Gibson-Roberts

Revisit some of Priscilla's many Spin Off articles published across three decades.

Spin Off Editorial Staff Mar 15, 2024 - 4 min read

Remembering Priscilla Gibson-Roberts Primary Image

A few of the Spin Off issues from the 1980s and 1990s with articles by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts shown with a top whorl from Vermont Spindle. Photo by Kate Larson.

The spinning and knitting communities are noting the passing of author Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (1939–2024). A frequent contributor to Spin Off between 1984–2001, her impact on the way we think about spinning is still felt today.

Most makers are more familiar with Priscilla’s books, including Knitting in the Old Way and High Whorling: A Spinner's Guide to an Old-World Skill. Her books continue to resonate with generations of makers who look back to traditional sweater designs and spinning methods to inform future work. We asked Interweave founder and Long Thread Media cofounder Linda Ligon to tell us how she and Priscilla first met.

I first met Priscilla Gibson-Roberts when she arrived at my Interweave office in 1983 telling me I would publish her knitting book, Knitting in the Old Way. “But we don’t publish knitting books,” I insisted. “Only spinning and weaving books.” Well, never mind. We published Knitting in the Old Way in 1985.

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. Photograph by J. VanSant Roberts, courtesy of the Roberts family

That’s how Priscilla lived her life. She would have a vision of what would be good and worthwhile, and she would make it happen. I never regretted taking her book on; she was right.

We worked together on various projects over the years, mostly related to traditional sock knitting, but that was only one facet of her expansive mind and far-reaching interests. We last connected at her home in Cedaredge, Colorado, where she lived in defiance of extreme scoliosis, never missing a beat in our wide-ranging conversation.

Priscilla's Colorful Armenian Socks, published in PieceWork Jan/Feb 2013. Photo by Joe Coca

Her obituary says her life ended on February 24, 2024, but that’s not strictly true. Her life as a sum of the work she did, the people she touched, the persistence of vision that marked her personality, will live on for years to come.

Articles by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts

We highly recommend "Bulky Singles for Knitting" and "Salish Shoulder Join," from Spin Off Winter 1992. You can find the excerpt for those articles plus two knitted vest patterns, in this PDF in the library.

Priscilla spinning for her 1992 article on bulky spinning.

Below you will find a reading list featuring some of Priscilla’s articles in Spin Off. All of these back issues are available in our library.

  • Wool: from fleece to knitting yarn. Fall 1984:27–29
  • Spinning traditional knitting yarns for ethnic sweaters. Winter 1984:26–28
  • Finishing a woolen knitting yarn. Summer 1985:28–30
  • Nature: a color source and inspiration for traditional sweaters. Fall 1985:42–46
  • Spin your own lopi? Summer 1986:40–41
  • Thirty-button classic. Spring 1987:32–34
  • Like the ad says: “We’ve come a long way.” Fall 1987:26–27
  • Woolcombing in the peasant way. Spring 1988:42–46
  • The traveling stitches of Bavaria. Winter 1989:21, 23–35
  • The Indian head spinner. Fall 1992:64–68
  • Bulky singles for knitting. Winter 1992:56–60 (Available as a free PDF in our library)
  • Raven vest. Winter 1992:60–62 (Available as a free PDF in our library)
  • Beaver vest. Winter 1992:62–63 (Available as a free PDF in our library)
  • Salish shoulder join. Winter 1992:64 (Available as a free PDF in our library)
  • The high-whorl spindle. Spring 1995:60–65
  • Miniature Bulgarian socks with floral motif. Spring 1995:66–69
  • Basic principles of hand carding. Adapted from High Whorling: A Spinner’s Guide to an Old-World Skill. Spring 1999:69
  • Old World Crochet. Summer 2001: 54–56