Best Reference Books for Handspinners (by the School of SweetGeorgia Instructors)

spinning reference books

Ask any writer, and they will tell you that books will never wholly go out of style. This could be why so many spinners and industry pros rely on their collections of hard copy, spinning-themed reference books. We keep these works where they are easily accessible and refer to them time and again because we can count on the accuracy we find within these pages.

We, your School of SweetGeorgia handspinning instructors (Diana, Katrina, Kim, Rachel, and Debbie), thought we’d share with you an index of our own most used titles. We encourage you to read those that appeal to you so that you can start (or add to) your own at-the-ready reference library.

Please note: For ease of reference, this list is in alphabetical order, by title. Some titles are no longer in print, but most can be acquired through online sellers, including Amazon, Abe Books, and eBay. (One or two are self-published and available only from the authors.) Please do your research as to the best prices and sellers’ reputations.


A Spinner’s Dozen: 14 Darn Useful Tools by Stephenie Gaustad (2020)

Color in Spinning by Deb Menz (2005)

Dyeing to Spin and Knit: Techniques and Tips to Make Custom Hand-Dyed Yarns by Felicia Lo (2017)

Hand Woolcombing and Spinning: A Guide to Worsteds from the Spinning Wheel by Peter Teal (1976)

Hands on Spinning by Lee Raven (1987)

Handspinning: Art and Technique  by Allen Fannin (1970)

In a Spin: Handspun Yarn Design and Technique by Pat Old (2009 – rare)

In Sheep’s Clothing by Nola Fournier and Jane Fournier (2003)

Learn to Spin by Anne Field (2011)

Merino: Handspinning, Dyeing and Working with Merino and Superfine Wools by Margaret Stove (1991) 

Pure Wool: A Guide to Using Single-Breed Yarns by Sue Blacker (2012)

Respect the Spindle: Spin Infinite Yarns with One Amazing Tool by Abby Franquemont (2009)

Spin to Weave: The Weaver’s Guide to Making Yarn by Sarah Lamb (2013)

Spinning Wool: Beyond the Basics Anne Field (2010)

Synthetic Dyes for Natural Fibers by Linda Knutson (1986)

The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning: Being A Compendium of Information, Advice, and Opinions On the Noble Art & Craft by Alden Amos (2001)

Spinning and Dyeing Yarn: The Home Spinner’s Guide to Creating Traditional and Art Yarns by Ashley Martineau (2014)

Spinning and Weaving with Wool by Paula Simmons (1977)

Synthetic Dyes for Natural Fibers by Linda Knutson (1986)

The Big book of Fibery Rainbows by Suzy Brown and Arlene Thayer (2016)

The Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners by Mabel Ross (1987)

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Carol Ekarius and Deb Robson (2011)

The Intentional Spinner: A Holistic Approach to Making Yarn by Judith MacKenzie McCuin

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax and Hemp by Stephenie Gaustad (2014)

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Rare Luxury Fibers by Judith Mackenzie (2015)

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Silk by Sarah Lamb (2014)

The Practical Spinners Guide – Wool by Kate Larson (2015)

The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs: Techniques for Creating 80 Yarns by Sarah Anderson

Unbraided: The Art and Science of Spinning Colour by Rachel Smith and Katrina Stewart (2019)

Yarnitechture by Jillian Moreno (2016)

51 Yarns to Spin Before You Cast Off by Jacey Boggs Faulkner (2018)

I keep my reference books within arm’s reach of my desk and my laptop, as I most often refer to them to fact-check my articles. I don’t keep the titles in alphabetical order. Rather, I group my reference books by theme: weaving, sewing, and handspinning.

I once had a professional organizer tell me that we all think differently, so it’s best to file items in the way that works best with your own brain. (This is the reason it can be so challenging to find an item after “cleaning up” a space!) Wherever you build your spinning library is fine, so long as you can access the books easily and you know where they are when you need them.

Industry magazines can also be a terrific source of trusted (and beautiful!) spinning material for the ages, so be sure to keep them after reading them.

I like to sort my reference books by category: (L-R) sewing, weaving, and spinning books are grouped together on a shelf in my office area.

What about digital titles? Digital downloads make for beautiful and handy reading on any device, and they tend to be more affordable than hard-copy publications. I prefer leafing through a book when I have a question (it’s much faster for me), though I definitely do have a few titles stored in my Kindle library, too.

Spinning magazines make for wonderful references and inspiration. I like to store/file mine by publication and year, in handy magazine organizers.

Did we miss any of your favorite titles? Let us know in the comments here, or in the School of SweetGeorgia forums!

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