Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Spot: Layla Weir

Layla Weir is here today with part one of her two-part series on spinning (the yarn kind, not the aerobic kind!)  She's here as part of her Homespun blog tour (which includes a homespun giveaway!).  Homespun comes out in just a few days and sounds like something I'd want to curl up with on a chilly fall day with a cup of hot spiced cider.

Say, that reminds me of a joke - one German says to the other, "Du spinnst!"  The other says, "Nein, ich weben."  

Okay, Layla, i've warmed them up for you!

Click here to read more:

Thank you, Jessica, for hosting me today! I'm blog touring for my novella Homespun, available now from Dreamspinner Press, and of all my guest posts, this and the next are maybe the ones I had the most fun writing. Before I get to the good stuff, though, I need to mention that during my blog tour (which runs 'til Oct. 8) I'm giving away a handmade scarf, knit or crocheted by me specially for you, in a style and yarn color that you get to pick! (This would also be a great holiday gift for someone else!) More details here: - you just need to comment on any of the posts in the Homespun blog tour to be entered.

Obviously, given the nature of the prize, I enjoy knitting and crochet as hobbies. And as you might guess from the title, Homespun uses spinning -- as in, converting wool to yarn -- as a central metaphor. Owen is a spinner himself, turning raw fiber from his sheep into yarn for the small home business that he runs along with his daughter Laura. As the novella goes along, the characters' lives are slowly wound together, like fiber being spun into thread.

You might wonder, reading the descriptions of spinning in the novella, if I can spin myself. The answer, up until about a month ago, would have been "not at all". I wrote those passages based upon videos on Youtube and a couple of spinning books which I acquired as *coughcough* research.

(Seriously, the number of books I've bought over the years because I wanted to research some minor point for something I was writing ... let me tell you, it is A LOT.)

But I've always wanted to learn to spin, and a few weeks ago, I did exactly that! Now I have a brand-new fun but useless skill for my "just in case I get thrown back in time a thousand years and/or survive an apocalypse" skill set.

*puts on amateur-historian nerd hat*

Prior to the modern era of powered looms and stores full of cheap clothing, spinning was one of the main occupations of women (and some men) the world over. In most agricultural societies, the vast majority of the labor of the adults in the household went into producing textiles (clothing and blankets), and grinding grain to make bread. All the yarn for the family's needs had to be spun from raw fiber -- mainly wool, cotton, or flax, a.k.a. linen -- using simple hand tools. While they were watching children, feeding livestock, visiting, and doing many other ordinary activities, women carried around spindles with them and casually spun fiber into different kinds of yarns and threads. These would be used to make everything from blankets to rugs to the family's clothing.

Like many generations of spinners before me, I learned to spin on a drop spindle ( I am now the proud owner of a simple wooden top-whorl spindle that looks like this:

The other major way of producing yarn from raw fiber is on a spinning wheel ( If you were going to be making all your family's clothing from hand-spun yarn, let's face it, this is what you'd want for producing industrial-sized quantities of yarn, which is why they caught on rapidly as soon as a spinning wheel was designed that could produce reliable, high-quality yarn. However, they're expensive and have a lot of moving parts. The spindle is just about as simple as you can possibly get. It consists of a central rod and a weighted whorl (that's the bit on top, which makes it spin). No one knows exactly how old they are, but they go back at least 10,000 years. They are very cheap (mine cost less than $20) and can be carried everywhere; you can pack a spindle and a good-sized quantity of wool for spinning into the same sized bag that you'd use to carry knitting around with you.

 Me with my new toy.

I'm going to take a break here, and tomorrow I'll be back at Anne Barwell's blog ( for Spinning: Part 2, in which I talk about what learning to spin is like.

by Layla M. Wier

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella/104 pages
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2013

For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.

Buy at Dreamspinner Press:

About Layla:
Layla M. Wier is the romance pen name of artist and writer Layla Lawlor. She was born in a log cabin in rural Alaska and grew up thirty miles from towns, roads, electricity, and cars. These days, she lives in Fox, a gold-rush mining town on the highway north of Fairbanks, Alaska, with her husband, dogs, and the occasional farm animal. Their house is a log cabin in a birch and aspen forest. Wolves, moose, and foxes wander through the front yard. During the short, bright Arctic summer, Layla enjoys gardening and hiking, and in the winter, she writes, paints, and draws.

Where to find Layla:

Stops and topics on the Homespun blog tour (Sept. 16-Oct. 8):
Monday, Sept. 16: Zahra Owens ( - autumn
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Tali Spencer ( - sharing passions
Wednesday, Sept. 18: RELEASE DAY! Party at the Dreamspinner Press blog!
Thursday, Sept. 19: Charley Descoteaux ( - location scouting in central New York
Friday, Sept. 20: Chris T. Kat ( - interview

Monday, Sept. 23: Charlie Cochet's Purple Rose Tea House ( - doing research
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Helen Pattskyn ( - bisexuality in Homespun
Wednesday, Sept. 25: Garrett Leigh ( - interview
Thursday, Sept. 26: Skylar Cates ( - rural life
Friday, Sept. 27: Madison Parker ( - interview + review

Monday, Sept. 30: Jessica Davies ( - learning to spin, part 1
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Anne Barwell ( - learning to spin, part 2
Thursday, Oct. 3: Michael Rupured ( - writing respectfully from outside a subculture
Friday, Oct. 4: Jana Denardo ( - invading characters' privacy

Monday, Oct. 7: SL Huang ( - interview
Tuesday, Oct. 8: PD Singer ( - central NY photo tour


  1. Thank you again for hosting me, Jessica! I really appreciate it. :)

  2. I thought knitting was too much work for me and now this! I just don't think I'm very crafty…

    1. It's really not that hard! I'm hopelessly uncoordinated, so if I can learn it, anyone can. :)