The Life-Changing Magic of Learning to Spin Yarn

For many of us, learning to spin yarn can be a life-changing event! In the Fall 2017 issue of Spin Off, Kathy Augustine took a brief and very unscientific survey of some of Spin Off’s contributors. Here’s what they had to say about learning.

Kathy Augustine Jul 3, 2018 - 4 min read

The Life-Changing Magic of Learning to Spin Yarn Primary Image

Spin Off editor Anne Merrow had been spinning for less than a year when this photo was taken in 2006. Photo courtesy of Spin Off

For many of us, learning to spin yarn can be a life-changing event! In the Fall 2017 issue of Spin Off, Kathy Augustine took a brief and very unscientific survey of some of Spin Off’s contributors. Here’s what they had to say about joining the handspinning fold, and how once they got started, they just couldn’t stop!

spin yarn

Roving Reporter Kate Larson at age 14 or 15 preparing Della, a Columbia ewe, for 4-H show day. Photo courtesy of Kate Larson

A respected author, teacher, and spinner for more than 50 years, Maggie Casey reflects: “I took a drop spindle class on a whim; I have no idea why. It was not a successful class, the spindle was heavy, the fiber was not good fiber for beginners, and my yarn was a spaghetti mess. Since that was such a disaster, I went out and bought a wheel. Go figure. I taught myself at first mostly from books, but there weren’t as many available at that time and [it was] way before the Internet. Later on, I joined the Handweavers Guild of Boulder, and a whole new world opened up . . . I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t taken that spindle class; I had no idea it would change my life in such a wonderful way.”

Amy Tyler describes how spinning has changed her life: “Becoming a spinner has certainly improved my quality of life. Not only is the act of spinning satisfying and useful, but the people in the fiber arts world are universally kind, generous, and a pleasure to be around.” Sara Lamb agrees, saying, “Spinning, and the people who spin, have brought me great joy, wonderful friendships, a craft that continually satisfies, edifies, and keeps me entertained after all these years.” Kate Larson sums up her experience saying, “Wool is the glue in my life in many ways.”

spin yarn

Maggie Casey was already an accomplished spinner and teacher when this photo was taken at the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat in 1988. Photo courtesy of Spin Off

In today’s high-tech fast-paced world, those who spin their own yarn may seem to the non-fiber-lover as old-fashioned or just a bit off kilter. But this ancient craft beckons to us, and we are firm in our convictions. We tend to flock together, gathering in groups and guilds. We mark the sheep and wool festivals on our calendars and reserve hotel rooms months or even years in advance. We have come to the craft at many different stages in our lives, spinning for many different reasons, each with a different story to tell. But we remain united in our passion and our legacy.

—Kathy

Enticed by the notion that she would have “plenty of time,” Kathy Augustine purchased her first spinning wheel 25 years ago shortly before going on maternity leave. It was only about 15 years ago that her wheel began to receive the attention it deserved.

How did you become a handspinner? Share with us in the comments below!

Featured Image: Spin Off editor Anne Merrow had been spinning for less than a year when this photo was taken in 2006. Photo courtesy of Spin Off


ARTICLES FOR YOU