Our current predicament of textile abundance

Spinning, my love for you is as precious as salt

In our modern era, most humans no longer need to know how make their own cloth, or grow plants that will yield fibrous strands to be spun into thread—technology has made cloth abundantly available. It has become disposable, in fact. Before the industrialization of yarn and fabric making, textiles were endlessly recycled to the point of literally disappearing. It is one reason why there are so few textiles in museum collections.

Our current predicament of textile abundance reminds me of the fairytale about the princess who was banished because she told her father the king that she loved him as much as salt. Her sisters had likened their love to rare, precious metals. It wasn't until that salt disappeared and everyone realized how vital it was to their very survival that the king understood how much his daughter loved him. She came back to him with a bag of salt that restored his health.

Being immersed in textiles the way that I am, I sometimes have a hard time remembering that other people go about their lives without the daily reminders of how integral, how vital the making and using of textiles are to our every breathing moment. Maybe it is because textiles are everywhere…on our bodies, in our homes, critical in business, and vital in medicine and science, as well as architecture. Sometimes when something is so ubiquitous it is hard to see it, let alone fathom how important it is. It seems mundane rather than sacred. The forest can't be seen because the trees are in the way.

We as spinners know what it means to pour your heart and soul into a functional piece and why we do it. I often wonder about how much the average person thinks about textiles—is it safe to assume that they don't give them a second thought? One of my little fantasies is to imagine a world where all manufactured cloth rapturously disappears. Maybe then the nontextile people would then understand why the making of yarn and cloth moves me to tears. And maybe not, but it is fun to fantasize about it anyway.

Happy spinning,

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