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Do you recognize this book title, Metaphysics of Batrachomyomachy?
It is one of my new favorite books. First, I love that I can hide it in any bookshelf and no one will ever pick it up or know what it is. Second, it is a really fun book to own. If you haven’t guessed already, Metaphysics of Batrachomyomachy is what it says on the spine of the printed book, Fleegle Spins Supported. How I love that!
The book was written by Fleegle.
No! Not that Fleegle! This Fleegle.
Susan Stevens, aka Fleegle, is the author of one of the few books that are devoted specifically to supported spinning. I think the reason her book stands out for me is the sheer size of it. It is a textbook, in weight and appearance, running 400+ pages. It is huge. Good thing too, as Ms Stevens, aka Ms Fleegle, covers fibers and their preparations, spindles, spindle anatomy, makers, techniques, yarn, record keeping, and rounds it all out with cool appendices. (Yes, I read and refer to those in most books.) Want to know the micron count of a tribble? It’s in there. No, I won’t tell you. Get the book. (and you call yourself a Trekkie!)
Although Fleegle Spins Supported is available as an interactive .pdf that you receive on a jump drive, I will be reviewing the hard copy. Because I bought the bound book, I received the jump drive version too. (I was not paid to review this book and paid full price for my personal copy.) I did look at the files but I prefer to have a book in my hands to read if at all possible so I didn’t open the book file much unless I wanted to click to find a vendor. Of course, I did watch the 18 demonstration videos. (My daughter loved the spider one.) The book is the same nonetheless, regardless of the format but my vote goes to the hardcover.
Fleegle Spins Supported is advertised as a full-color coffee table book. Instantly, my mind went to Kramer, but it is true. It has very beautiful photographs. Think spindle/fiber porn.
Many times I take it off the shelf just to look through the pictures and dream. You can see why the hardcover is so expensive when you look through it. Every page has color pictures showing everything from spindles, to specific fibers being spun, to Neal Brand demonstrating turning a spindle. How cool can you get?
Fleegle’s writing style is decidedly decided and quite humorous. Her descriptions of techniques are easy to follow and are written in a step-by-step manner that I think most new spinners would be able to comprehend. I particularly like the steps she gives to new spinners starting with twirling the spindle without looking for a week. It reminds me of Maggie Casey‘s advice to treadle for 20-30 minutes to get the hang of a using spinning wheel.
The book starts with descriptions of fibers available and not available to spin with their strengths and weakness listed. I really enjoyed this section and loved the pictures of each fiber making its way onto the spindle. Ms Stevens adds her opinion on how each fiber spun for her and was most interesting. If she doesn’t like a fiber, it is said in a good-natured way. Readers can make up their own minds by trying each on their own. One of the things that I loved was the section on Kozo spinning. Kozo is a paper made from mulberry paper.
I can’t wait to try it. I bought the paper and am ready to start. Thank you, Fleegle!
Her fiber preparation section was outstanding. One of my pet peeves is incorrect washing instructions for raw wool. She did very well. Her pictures ranging from batts, clouds, to fauxlags are clear and sumptuous. The pages devoted to making a batt make you want to run to your drum carder without haste.
The section on spindles and their makers is really dangerous. I suggest you get out a towel for the drool and hide your credit cards. They can only inspire you to buy one of each type. After all, you can justify that, right? It is for your education, isn’t it?
I followed Fleegle’s steps to learn supported spinning in her spinning technique section to the letter to give it a proper go. The directions are uncomplicated and well-thought out. If you aren’t proficient at supported spinning, or are stuck with park and draft and want to further your techniques, I think Ms Stevens can help you get to the next level. I found myself a bit too advanced to experience it in the same way but found it useful and fun to revisit. The videos that correspond to the written lessons are indispensable. They are a wonderful addition. I spin in the opposite manner of Fleegle, that is to say left-handed, but found the flipped right-handed video to be very instructive indeed.
The section on record keeping is fabulous. I ordered my DMC blank embroidery cards straight away. (I am terrible about keeping records since I had the baby.) I feel that the trouble shooting section will be of great service to the new spinner. The appendices! Yes, one of my favorite things. I find them just fun to check out. Don’t miss them.
All in all, I would highly recommend Fleegle Spins Supported. Ms Stevens has wit and opinions. She allows for the reader to ignore what she thinks and probably would encourage each spinner to try all aspects for themselves as we are all different. Her opinion is not to be set in stone. For example, she admits to having small hands. I wonder if this effects some of her spinning times. We all are different sizes and may use spindles in different ways. One of the vendors who she lists with a twirling time of only 7.9 seconds on an empty spindle. I tried it at home, since it is one of my fave spindles, and got more like 32 seconds. That time would have been more than the leading spindle in that category. The longest time was 24.2 seconds with an empty twirl. I think it behooves the reader to take the book as a guide and not as gospel. A very good, lovely, fun and knowledgeable guide but a guide.
If you are thinking of learning to spin supported, there can be no better instruction without a teacher present. The .pdf book costs $30, and the hardcover, which includes the .pdf, is $100. Another option is to take advantage of the Support Spindle Starter kit offered by Malcolm Fielding. For $100 + shipping, you will receive the .pdf copy of the book, fiber, and one of his Dervish spindle and bowl sets. I have paid more for workshops where I have learned less. I ask you to consider it as such. You will not regret it.