Now and Then
The epitome of 1970s spinning in Colorado. The yarn for this hanging was spun by members of the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild and the Handweavers Guild of Boulder during a Madame DeFarge celebration in 1975. The piece itself was constructed by Anne Bliss and Linda Ligon.
Interweave turns 40 this year, and I am so proud to say that founder Linda Ligon still works here.
At various points in our history she's performed more jobs than she cares to remember, but you can still find her in our office every week. (Well, except when she's off gathering amazing textiles and new travel adventure stories.) And Linda doesn't just put her feet up on her desk and goof off, either. She gives her opinions on covers and invents snappy cover lines for the next issue of Spin-Off, brainstorms article ideas with Jeane Hutchins at PieceWork, and even produces videos (including Patsy Zawistoski's 2014 video trio).
To keep Spinning Daily in touch with our roots and our global connections, but mostly because Linda is a sharp and entertaining writer, we've asked her to begin an occasional series of posts. Look for another one in February.
When I first started spinning forty or so years ago, here in Colorado the rule was you spun in the grease. If you were a rank beginner, you probably spun on a “drop” spindle, and it might have been made out of a dowel and a wooden drawer pull. If you were more advanced, you would probably have invested in an Ashford kit wheel, which sold for an affordable $100. The how-to book was Elsie Davenport’s Your Handspinning, a little staple-bound volume with black and white line drawings and a few photos. To her credit, she did suggest that you could wash your fleece before spinning. (But in Colorado, that would have been considered sort of cheating.)
This was not a bad beginning. The Ashford wheel is still a popular choice (though the price has gone up a tad), and Elsie Davenport was kind and clear in her instructions on how to spin a continuous yarn. The greasy fleece, well, nobody does that much anymore.
What’s interesting to me is how rapidly everything has changed. An advantage of getting old is you see how things evolve. From my first spinning lessons on the dread drop spindle with the stinky wool, it was no more than a year before the ranch operation that became Brown’s Sheep was producing nice clean natural-colored rovings from their Romney meat sheep. A very few years more, and Merino rovings were coming in from Australia, dyed in bright primary colors—really bright! A short step from that were rovings dyed in pretty variegated palettes. And so it went. When I went looking for some non-premium grease fleece this past fall for a little project I was doing for Spin-Off, I could hardly find any.
Now, everything I’ve said is from a very personal perspective, my own little history. If you started your spinning adventure in another place or another year, your story would be quite different. Tell me about it.