Getting from there to here, including highlights from Ecuador

On the Quilotoa Loop in the
central highlands of Ecuador.

The typical landscape of the
highlands of Ecuador.

Women chatting and crocheting
in Chugchilan, Ecuador.

Yarn for sale at the Thursday
market in Saquisili, Ecuador.

Liz Gipson shopping for yarn
in Otavalo, Ecuador.

The winding path

A note from Amy Clarke Moore: You may or may not know that our wonderful assistant editor, Stefanie Berganini, decided to take a full-time position at our sister publication, Stitch, when it was offered to her earlier this autumn. Liz Good is now sitting in Stefanie's seat. Liz started her career at Interweave as Spin-Off's intern before she was hired full-time as the assistant editor of Fiberarts magazine where she's worked for almost seven years. Before she was an intern at Interweave, she was an intern at Schacht Spindle Company in Boulder, Colorado, and before that she was a fiber-arts student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado—so she's had a rich background in the Northern Colorado fibers community. Liz is a spinner, knitter, and  weaver; she also keeps bees (she just got her first harvest last month—13 pounds!). I think you'll be as delighted with her contributions to the spinning community as I am, but I'll let you decide for yourself—here she is:

Hello! My journey to Spin-Off wasn't necessarily a direct one, but I have learned a lot along the way. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from Colorado State University, I returned to get a degree in Anthropology. I took the opportunity to take classes that I hadn't been able to my first time around, which included Fibers with Tom Lundberg. I quickly became very interested in weaving and in the machinery of the floor loom, I saw a close relationship to photography, which had been my creative outlet since high school. There was an important difference, though; working with fiber allowed a natural, sustainable alternative to the harsh chemicals of photography. I also loved the detail, the science, and the problem solving that went into getting my desired results in fabric. Oh, and I love cloth. I have always been very tactile and have always admired both hand- and machine-made textiles. Cloth has a very strong cultural component, which the anthropologist in me can't help but love.

Through the fibers department I found an internship at Schacht Spindle Company, where I had the pleasure of trying every loom they make and was exposed to spinning for the first time. My internship at Schacht led to my internship at Interweave. Through Interweave I have been exposed to an incredible amount of fiber. I have become more interested in spinning and took Maggie Casey's beginning spinning class last year (and got my own wheel) and hope to take more classes from Maggie soon. I am really excited to be part of the Spin-Off team and look forward to getting to know you, too!

Spinning in Ecuador

I'd like to share some pictures and a video from my recent trip to Ecuador with my friend Liz Gipson (some of you may remember that Liz was Spin-Off's Assistant Editor 2001–2005). (I started my job at Spin-Off the day I got back!) I spent a week in the central highlands just before the political unrest that unfortunately just took place there. And while time flew by, I feel lucky that I got to spend time in such lovely country. The central highlands are highly agricultural and much of the steep volcanic slopes are filled with the crops and livestock of family farms.

Though I didn't see as much spinning as I expected, I noticed a lot of women knitting and crocheting while walking, visiting with friends in the markets, and by the side of the road. Yarn was sold in giant skeins in piles stacked six feet tall in markets and in store fronts. We visited Otavalo, which is known for its massive weekly crafts market. In the nearby town of Agato, we visited Tahuantinsuyo Weaving Workshop, the shop (and home) of Miguel Andrango. Mr. Andrango was very welcoming and generous and gave us a very thorough spinning demonstration on his walking wheel. I had never seen one before and am including a video of it here. And while he didn't speak much English (and our Spanish was about as good) we were able to share our passion for making things by hand despite the language barriers.

What types of wheels or spindles have you encountered while traveling? Please share your stories in the comments section.

Spin on,

P.S. I just learned about this interesting article about Miguel Andrango and preserving traditional Andean weaving, it is definitely worth a read.

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