Ella Bakera fiber hero's legacy continues

Connecting the threads

A bead-whorl spindle that belonged to Ella Baker, from Judith Towers's collection, with a handspun cotton carrying case and a needlecase made by Ella and given to Irene Schmoller of Cotton Clouds.

Serendipity often occurs in our offices—sometimes it seems as if there is a thread connecting everything we do. For instance, in the Fall 2012 issue of Spin-Off's letters section reader Mauna Hair wrote about how she attended the estate sale that Ella Baker's family held after her death and how Mauna added Ella's collection of back issues of Spin-Off to her own collection to complete the set (minus one issue given to Mauna later as a gift). Not too much later we were working on the Spring 2013 issue of Spin-Off, and were ohhing and ahhing over Judith Towers's green cotton submission to the Your Yarn challenge—it had been grown from cotton that she had purchased from the same estate sale. We asked Judith if she could write an article about the sale as we kept hearing how Ella's legacy was living on through the items her family shared with the spinning community. Judith's article appeared in our Winter 2014 issue and shared not only a little more about the sale and what she acquired there but her experiences with Ella personally and what she had learned from her in workshops. Judith planted the seeds she acquired from Ella Baker—literally and figuratively.

And those seeds keep growing—blooming into cotton, that is spun into more threads, and producing more seeds.

In March we released our Spin-Off Presents: Cotton from Growing to Finishing eBook that included two articles from past issues by Ella Baker. In response to the eBook, Irene Schmoller of Cotton Clouds wrote about a visit she had from Ella about twenty years ago where Ella gave Irene a takli case and needle holder. When we heard this story we had to include a photo of these ingenious tools in our Winter 2014 issue. One of our authors, Adela Flores, happened to stop by our offices when she was in Colorado on a family trip just as we had received the package from Irene. Delighted with it we shared it with Adela. Adela was so taken by the dainty spindle holder that she combined the idea with a thrift-store find Liz Good was using to carry her spindle to design her own version for our Fall 2013 issue, the crocheted Hemp Spindle Bag.

Seeds and threads—growing and stretching around the world and our community.

Happy spinning,

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