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Comment: EX-LIBRARY, clean copy with light wear. Has light wear on the cover, edges and corners. Binding is tight. Ex-library book, with library markings, features, and stamps. This item ships promptly from Amazon's warehouse with tracking, 24/7 customer service, and no-hassle returns. Eligible for Amazon's Free Super Saver Shipping and Prime programs. Over 70,000 satisfied orders!
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The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning: Being A Compendium of Information, Advice, and Opinions On the Noble Art & Craft Hardcover – May 1, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Just when double-treadle spinning wheels had become popular, Amos caused quite a stir by suggesting that they were not necessarily God's gift to the handspinner. As the owner of a double-treadle spinning wheel, I couldn't resist looking to see if his opinion had changed in the intervening years. Nope. Amos argues here that you don't really need this type of wheel unless, among other things, "you are such a klutz that you cannot keep the wheel going with one foot." Amos, who has been making spinning wheels and studying handspinning for more than 40 years, has finally distilled this experience into a definitive book deserving of its title. Even the most knowledgeable spinner will learn something and will be entertained in the bargain. This major contribution to the literature should be in any library where there is demand, though small public libraries may prefer less comprehensive books, such as Lee Raven's Hands on Spinning (1987) or Connie Delaney's Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert (Kokovoco, 1998) to offer beginners.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Just when double-treadle spinning wheels had become popular, Amos caused quite a stir by suggesting that they were not necessarily God's gift to the handspinner. As the owner of a double-treadle spinning wheel, I couldn't resist looking to see if his opinion had changed in the intervening years. Nope. Amos argues here that you don't really need this type of wheel unless, among other things, 'you are such a klutz that you cannot keep the wheel going with one foot.' Amos, who has been making spinning wheels and studying handspinning for more than 40 years, has finally distilled this experience into a definitive book deserving of its title. Even the most knowledgeable spinner will learn something and will be entertained in the bargain. This major contribution to the literature should be in any library where there is demand, though small public libraries may prefer less comprehensive books, such as Lee Raven's Hands on Spinning (1987) or Connie Delaney's Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert (Kokovoco, 1998) to offer beginners." - Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc., Library Journal

"A great and entertaining read...Informative and funny...[despite] the very technical nature of the book." - Spindle and Wheel online magazine

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Interweave; First Edition edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883010888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883010881
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 7.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book should be read with a critical eye. Some of the information in it is flat-out wrong. One example (not the only one by far, but a potentially disastrous one) is that Mr. Amos recommends winding off a drop spindle by hanging it from the ceiling and then routing the yarn down to a chair and through the top rail of the back, so that the yarn pulls off the end of the spindle. Please do not do this. Every time the yarn comes off the spindle tip, a twist will be added or removed, depending on how you've wound the yarn. This is the same principle that a Great Wheel works on. On some yarns, the extra or reduced twist won't matter. On others, it can either unspin it until it drifts apart, or twist it until it starts kinking. At the very least, winding off the end is inviting tangles and frustration. Drop spindles are best wound off from the side.

Besides incorrect information, there are also a number of omissions in the book. My personal favorite (again, not the only example by far) is when Mr. Amos is discussing umbrella swifts. He states that plans to build one are included later in the book. The book has no plans for any yarn swift, umbrella or otherwise.

The book is poorly laid out. Information on equipment is spread between 3 or 4 places at least. Similar with discussion of twist and related properties. On the other hand, the break between chapter 4 (Determining Character of Yarn) and chapter 5 (Accurate Measurements) seems completely arbitrary. Mr. Amos also has an annoying, and perhaps unethical, habit of plugging his own products -- without noting that they are his. He also often goes out of his way to avoid mentioning a competitor by name (i.e.
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Format: Hardcover
I was expecting a useful compendium of information to help me to become a better spinner and to be able to better evaluate the differences and limitations of various spinning wheels, however, Mr Amos seems to be more intent on patting himself on the back for his own achievements (footnotes abound) and gets so technical with the rest of his info such that only production spinners would find it useful. For example, in one paragraph he writes off all castle wheels as useless (his reason is that they are not useful for production). He also disses double treadle styles as being something of a morphodite set-up (as mentioned by another reviewer).

He allows a "generous" two pages each explaining bobbin-lead vs flyer-lead and scotch tension as compared to about thirty pages extolling the virtues of the double drive system (can you guess which one he prefers). He then devotes another two chapters to the mathematics of whorls, ratios, grist and twist in relation to, of course, the double drive system (without a lick of info regarding how to keep consistency using a single drive system).

All in all, though the book is full of worthy information, if and only if you have a double-drive, saxony-style wheel, the presentation was annoying and biased. I really feel that it didn't impart the knowledge that I was expecting at all. I'm glad I checked this book out from the Library, as I will NOT be purchasing it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. Could have been called The Complete Book Of Spinning, had the namers a pedantic turn of phrase.

This is a big book, that can be read from front to back, or sampled, as one prefers. While very readable, this book has technical sections that will not appeal to all spinners, but they exist to help those who need this information. So buy the book with the understanding that while it's almost all here, you don't have to embrace any more of it than you want to.

I bought this book for any information that will help me in building wheels. There are a few chapters on the wheels themselves that will really help a builder, or spinner, understand the why's of different designs. It was surprising to come across a reference to Super Quench, a cutting edge quench for mild steel, but it does belong here. It was also surprising to see little information on band drives, even if the author doesn't prefer them.

Amos has obviously offended some readers with comments on double peddle wheels. Yet he later mentions that with enough drag the Scotch tension can get hard to push. Hello?

If there are a few phrases in the whole book in which Amos let's go a few of his preferences, all the better. This book is an important link with the craft that will do a lot to keep spinning alive. For all that it's fun to read.

Quick update. Since I wrote this review, craft spinning wheels have moved on through several major redesign steps. This book is more about traditional wheels, not about craft wheels. Still useful, but the new gear is not represented here.
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Format: Hardcover
Whilst the writing style can be slightly overwhelming at times this book is one of those "Must Haves" that everyone will wish they had purchased once it goes out of print.
I'm still only 1/5th of the way through (it has 500 pages!!!), but I've already come across much information that I wish I had known before and have applied it to my spinning technique with great success.
One of the most interesting sections of the book contains schematics for making your own tools (niddy noddy, nostepinne, drop spindle, among others). Now I just have to find myself a woodworker to make them for me!
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