Review: How to Spin by Beth Smith

Audience: Beginning Spinners

How to Spin: From Choosing a Spinning Wheel to Making Yarn by Beth Smith is a beginning spinner book with a focus on using a wheel instead of a spindle. Each chapter builds on the previous, beginning with an overview of spinning, then a general description of wheels, sections describing fiber preparations and drafting methods and a techniques section that begins to build on the basics.  A solid glossary and index wrap this title up and make it easy for the reader to find just about any concept they may be looking for quickly.


Smith is a fantastic teacher. This title has a ton of hints and tricks that are helpful for the new spinner, including some hints that were new to me (like using a lark’s head knot to secure your leader to your bobbin)!  She is brilliant at painting a picture with words which is great, as the book has no photos.  There are some illustrations scattered throughout the text that depict the concepts clearly, but the text holds its own well without additional visuals.

For me, this title is best read while sitting in front of a wheel, pairing the verbal learning style with a kinesthetic learning style.  Smith sticks to the basics and provides the right tip at the right moment to encourage the learning process.


Smith’s text is executed with grace, but I found the layout poorly handled.  While Storey Publishing has some offering that knock it out of the park, this book and the other books in this series have the appearance of a how-to book from 20 or 30 years ago.  Even though the text has a contemporary feel and includes current references I  was somewhat put off by the formatting and am concerned that it might not have a strong appeal for the upcoming generations of new spinners.


I rate this book a four out of five stars.  The text is brilliant, but the formatting of the physical book left something to be desired.  Smith has a grasp on the mindset of the beginning spinner and feeds information to the reader the way a shepherd bottle feeds a lamb.  Even beyond beginners, this title would be beneficial as a refresher for the experienced spinner.


I urge the beginning spinner to take a look at this book.  The look of this book makes it feel like the text may be outdated, but this is not the case. Beth Smith provides clear descriptions and some unique tips you won’t find in another beginning spinner book.  She also manages to make herself incredibly clear without falling back on illustrations, which is a skill in itself that should receive kudos.


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