Review: 51 Yarns to Spin Before You Cast Off by Jacey Boggs Faulkner, Illustrated by Kirsten Slade

Audience: Intermediate Spinners

Framed as a life-list style book, 51 Yarns to Spin Before You Cast Off, written by Jacey Boggs Faulkner and illustrated by Kirsten Slade is a playful and inspiring look at a breadth of fiber techniques and topics.

Pros

The layout of this title is solid. The blue, striped endpapers are beautiful and the vertical stripes are carried throughout the book in a variety of design elements that provide visual breaks between sections.  As a librarian, I have a deep appreciation for good endpapers.

Kirsten Slade was a great choice for the illustrations.  Her artwork is playful and matches the tone of the text superbly.  I got a chuckle out of identifying faces in the illustrations.  My favorite may be Beth Smith on page six with her gorgeous tiara.  The soft tones of the water color illustrations and the other design elements work in harmony and keep the reader moving through the text.

Jacey takes a broad look at techniques and gives the reader just a taste of each idea.  This is the perfect title for someone interested in branching out from their default spinning.  I love that the intended audience for this book is the intermediate spinner.  There are so many titles available to bring new spinners into the fold, but very few newer titles aimed at the experienced spinner.

Cons

While well-executed, I’m not sure how much longevity this title will have.    Not every book needs to last until the next millennium, but it is worth noting.  It has many references that are likely to age out both in the illustrations and the text.  Many of the illustrations of current popular fiber artists are gems that will likely get lost over time or lost upon spinners from outside the core community.  This is only half a con, as Jacey put together a selection of yarn concepts that likely won’t age out!

This title really expects the reader to come to the table with a fairly solid knowledge of fiber and the current state of the fiber arts community.  This alone isn’t a negative! While the reference list in the back is deliciously packed with great resources, there are no resources for the individual yarns suggested through the book and very little technique discussed for each one.  Each section has just enough technique and facts to whet the appetite, but not enough follow up information to get to the next step.  For a spinner with a good reference point, this won’t be a problem.  But I can see it being a problem with some readers, particularly those who are on the other side of the digital divide or have limited resources.

Analysis

Even though Jacey advertises this title “Whether you’re just beginning or are already deep in the throes of your spinning adventure…” I would probably not hand this title to a entry-level spinner.  It could be inspiring or intimidating depending on the individual.  The text has enough information to get an intermediate spinner to dig deeper, but not enough for the beginner who hasn’t yet built up a mental library of resources.

As an intermediate title, this book is the bees knees.  It is fun and has something that will take every spinner out of his or her comfort zone.  If you’re looking for a gift for the spinner who has everything, this book would be a fantastic choice.  It really is a new type of fiber book.  With this book, Jacey branches out and connects the world of spinning publications to other contemporary forms of non-fiction available in the market.

Conclusion

I rate this title a four out of five stars.  As you probably already know if you’re reading my blog, I’m a tough reviewer.  This is a fantastic intermediate book, but I have to disagree with Jacey’s assessment of target audience.  I don’t feel like she adequately explains spinning jargon or techniques for a beginner, so if she considers beginners to be part of her target audience, I’m afraid she missed the mark a little.  That said, all my closest spinner friends who haven’t already gotten it will probably get it as a Christmas gift from me this year.  And if you’ve been spinning for more than a week or two, you should probably also pick up this book.

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