Getting Started in the Tour de Fleece

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Natalie (npeace on Ravelry) is a prolific spinner who creates her wonderful yarns almost exclusively on spindles.  With the Tour de Fleece coming up, it felt natural to ask her to share her thoughts on the best way to get started…


By Natalie

July 3rd marks the start of one of the biggest events of the spinning year – the Tour de Fleece.   For 3 weeks, spinners everywhere will spin along as the cyclists in the Tour de France work their way across France.  During this time, gorgeous handspun yarns will be popping up all over the internet as spinners show off their tour projects on their blogs and on Ravelry.

It was actually all this frenetic tour-based posting of handspun that got me interested in spinning a few years ago.  If you find yourself drooling over yet another absolutely stunning barber-poled yarn or wondering how it would feel to play in a big pile of cloud-like merino… well, that’s a pretty common side effect of the Tour de Fleece.

Natalie spinning SpaceCadet Creations BFL combed top in Garden in Spring, on a Butterfly Girl spindle

It used to be that people felt they had to invest hundreds of dollars in a wheel in order to do “real” spinning.  This often seems like too daunting an investment to make just to give something a try.  Fortunately, with the current resurgence in popularity of the humble spindle, spinning is becoming ever more accessible.  If you get all fired up by the Tour de Fleece and want to give this spindle thing a try for yourself, here’s a list of resources to get you started:


Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont – If you’re only going to buy one spindle resource, this is the one to get.  It starts with the basics but will continue to be useful as you gain competence and experience.  There is also an accompanying video available as a DVD or as a video download from the Interweave online store.

Productive Spindling by Amelia Garripoli, also known as the Bellwether.  This book covers a lot of the same material as Respect the Spindle, but the approach is different, and it is an equally valuable resource.

Internet Resources:

Both authors above have informative blogs.  Abby Franquemont’s is and Amelia Garripoli can be found at  Both have extensive archives of general spinning and spindle-specific information.  Abby Franquemont has also posted a number of fabulous instructional videos to you tube, which you can find here.

Also invaluable to the new spindle spinner is the Spindlers group on Ravelry.  The “Stupid Questions” thread is full of answers to every beginner question imaginable, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for there you can post a new question.  Many experienced spinners generously spend their time monitoring that forum and answering all manner of questions for the new and confused.

There are many, many more resources out there, but starting with the list above will have you up and spinning very quickly.  Have fun!