New access to timeless information

New access to timeless information

Sarah Natani demonstrates spinning on a Navajo spindle in the Spring 1995 issue of Spin-Off.

Spin-Off's managing editor, Liz Good, and I were just talking about what the digital age was like when I was in college and she was in high school—almost twenty years ago. Personal computers had only been on the scene for about ten years and there was this newfangled way to communicate called electronic mail. The Internet hadn't yet become the connecting web of information that we experience daily now. I still wrote letters—and hadn't yet started calling it snail mail. I remember the first time I heard a phone ring in someone's purse and what a surreal experience that was.

I was an emerging spinner, though, and I was delighted to find copies of Spin-Off at my university library. They had been bound together into a collection of big heavy books. I would camp out in the aisle, poring through the back issues. I gleaned a lot of great tips from those pages that helped me become a better spinner.

Inspired by exquisite textiles made with simple tools and limited materials, Germaine Salsberg challenged herself to use her stock of "less-than ideal" fibers. She produced this vest for her husband, which is modeled here by spinner Jane Fournier in the Summer 1995 issue of Spin-Off.

In a lot of ways the information is timeless but the way we get it is ever evolving. If you had asked me as a college student who had looked up the location of the magazines in an actual card catalog, how I'd be accessing that same information twenty years in the future, I would have looked at you in confusion. Imagine whipping out your smart phone and browsing through the Spring 1995 issue.

Simply the juxtaposition of the article Spinning on a Navajo Spindle and the myriad ways we now access that information about using simple tools to spin a thread is mind-boggling. Reading Germaine Salsberg's discussion about making her (modern) primitive Fair Ilse knitted vest using simple tools in the Summer 1995 issue, it's clear that spinners were pondering the same incongruities twenty years ago as we are today. Interestingly, the Winter 1996 issue has an article called, "Spin-Off: The first twenty years." We use age old tools and techniques to make beautiful things and it helps create a balance in a world that is changing swiftly in some ways, and enduring as ever before in many other ways.

Happy spinning,

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