Give yourself a simple gift

Give yourself a simple gift

Rita shows her New England
Autumn Color with a woven rug.


A handspun, handwoven pillowcase
how dreamy!

Lovely garments from Rita's

I can count on my two hands the number of projects I have woven or knitted entirely from my own handspun yarn in the past four decades since I began learning to spin. When I sat down and actually started making a list, I was shocked at my scanty output. I have spun lots of dibs and dabs and included them in projects, and I have spun many, many skeins that haven't found a fabric home yet. What I can remember: One sweater, one blanket, one yardage for a jacket, a bunch of scarves, some warm winter caps, a couple of pairs of gloves, a couple of pairs of socks—if there's more, I have forgotten. (And actually, that does add up to more than ten, but not by a whole lot.)

So I sat in gape-jawed wonder as Rita Buchanan pulled out piles and piles of handspun projects—major projects. Floor rugs, wall rugs, bed-sized blankets, pillowcases, table linens, towels, a stylishly timeless wardrobe—and so much more. This was at her home in Connecticut where we filmed two video workshops—How I Spin and In Praise of Simple Cloth. The title for the latter came to me as Rita produced these mountains of textile riches. Her fabrics were not flashy (except for when she goes a little nuts with New England Autumn color). They are for the most part simple twills and plain weave. Simple, but with so much soul. Her fabrics have lives and personalities of their own, because of the thoughtful care and joyful process that went into making them. It's easy to say these words, but hard to really convey what I'm trying to express. (You'd just have to see it for yourself, which happily, you can.)

I did come away inspired to do more. You don't have to be an expert spinner or weaver or knitter to accomplish what Rita has. The spinning is mostly simple singles and two-ply yarns. The knit stitches and weave drafts are about as straightforward as you can get. You do need to be willing to invest your creative time and a bit of your heart and soul, but the reward is surrounding yourself with a fiber world of your own making. I'm going to tackle this one piece at a time. I think I will start with a small wooly blanket. What a comfort it will be.


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