Book Review: Get Spun by Symeon North

by Anne Podlesak

I recently purchased the Get Spun book by Symeon North from Interweave Press.   Billed as a way to learn to spin “funky and functional art yarns”, I was interested to see what I would learn from it.  Up front, I will note I am not generally an “art yarn” knitter.  I tend to like smoothly spun yarns that are easily knit up into practical, functional garments.  However, I think it is always good to expand one’s horizons occasionally, so I dove into the book.

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As you would expect from Interweave, the book is lushly photographed with a ton of nicely sized pictures.  It is laid out in three main sections: A section on tool and materials that you can use to create the yarns, a section on how to dye your own yarns and some spinning basics, and then the final, largest section is on different art yarn creation techniques.

The final section covers almost every funky technique out there – from relatively mundane things such as a thick-n-thin singles all the way up to spinning with garbage bags.  Each technique builds on a previously discussed one.   For instance, the author talks about what makes a good singles yarn and discusses how to spin that, and then expands the techniques to cover things like core spinning (wherein a core made up of singles-spun yarn is covered with another yarn) and add-ons, where you start with a base of a singles-spun yarn and add things from beads to pom-poms or other trinkets to the yarn on a lightweight binder-type yarn.

Each technique is covered in a page or two, most of them with at least 5 to 6 step-by-step photographs showing the author spinning that specific technique at each step in the yarn’s construction.   The photographs are bright, clear and show the technique being used in detail.  I chose to try out the directions for one of the “add-on” yarns, and spun a skein of singles from BFL/silk and then added small beads to it on a rayon thread.

(Please see the Spinster’s Corner article in this edition for more information on that skein.)

In general, I found this book to have a lot of information for spinners who would like to expand their repetoire beyond just basic yarns.  I did wish that there was less information on basic spinning techniques and dyeing, and more time spent on some of the specifics of “What do I do if….?” on the art yarn techniques.  For instance, the add-on yarn technique information simply says you will need prespun singles and lengths of thread or yarn prestrung with beads, etc.  It would have been helpful to know what types of fiber bases would work best for the singles, what types of thread are going to work best and approximately how many beads you’d need for a 4-ounce skein of singles.  I wound up doing a lot of trial and error in crafting my beaded-yarn skein, and would have liked to have had a little more basic information before jumping off to start spinning the yarn.  However, if you are someone who likes to experiment, try different things, and likes yarn for yarn’s sake, this will probably not bother you in the least.

I would recommend this book as a nice addition to your spinner’s reference library once you’ve mastered some spinning basics and are ready to take your yarns to a new artistic level!

Please note that I purchased this book for myself and was in no way compensated for reviewing this book by Interweave Press.  The opinions in this review are strictly my own and your mileage may vary.

Photos © Anne Podlesak

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