Promoting spinning through the SOAR Scholarship

The SOAR 2013 Scholars (SS) and Scholarship Committee (SC): Boyeun Kim (SS), Pete Leonard (SC), Bekah Piepergerdes (SS), Maggie Casey (SC), Jeannine Glaves (SC), Amy Clarke Moore, Chris Pappas (SS), Becca Boland (SS), and Kate Larson (SC). Not shown: Carol Leonard (SC), Judy Gilchrist (SC). Photo: Ercil Howard Wroth.

The Spin-Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR) Scholarship program has been actively bringing spinning scholars to attend SOAR since its inception in 1995. A dedicated team of SOAR participants with the help from Interweave founded the scholarship, organized a silent auction onsite at the yearly spinning retreat to fund it, and formed a volunteer committee to review applications and select scholars for each year. The goal of the scholarship is to bring worthy spinning scholars to SOAR—people who in most cases would not be able to attend on their own, and spinners who have exhibited the promise of furthering the craft of spinning both within and outside of the spinning community.  This year at SOAR 2013, participants, mentors, vendors, and staff donated items to the silent auction and raised $2,434 for the SOAR Scholarship.

This year SOAR welcomed four spinners as the 2013 SOAR Scholars:

Becca Boland of Berwyn, Illinois, is a long time knitter and spinner. After graduating, her first official job was at the local library in the position of the Teen Librarian. She knew she wanted to share her love of spinning and knitting with the teens and worked her love of the crafts into her curriculum at the library. She also started working on dyeing her own fibers. She not only wants to spin her own yarn, but she also wants to create her own colorways as well. Sometime in the future, she hopes to open a spinning shop.

Bekah Piepergerdes of Golden, Colorado, is guide (or teacher) at Compass Montessori in Golden, Colorado. It is the only pre-K through 12th grade public Montessori school in the nation with a working farm on the campus. Bekah teaches in the junior high in the Farm school, guiding the 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds in their education—she does this through hands-on activities on the farm and in the fiber studio where they take the fiber from the resident alpacas and learn how to spin, dye, weave, knit, and crochet with it. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that these young teens are social newborns, who should live in a small community and participate in growing their food, making their clothing, and meeting their own fundamental needs while spending time away from their parents. The aim of this plane of development is the valorization of the personality where students can answer the questions: Who am I? What am I good at? Where do I fit into this community? The teachers in the farm school are working on developing the curriculum for the junior high students that Maria Montessori left sketched out, but unfinished when she died.

2013 SOAR Scholar, Bekah Piepergerdes enthusiastically learning about the mechanics of the spinning wheel in Amy Tyler's retreat session. Photo: Amy Clarke Moore.

When Chris Pappas of Nicholasville, Kentucky, was a college freshman studying archaeology, she was encouraged to pick a type of material culture to specialize in. Other students chose to study stone tools, pottery, or bones. For Chris, the bits of fabric, mats, sandals, and baskets were most intriguing, and she chose textiles as her specialty. The subtle nuances of personal choice and cultural variation in the textiles fascinated her, and she studied archaeological textiles throughout college and graduate school. Today, she is lucky to have a job where she can continue this research and share it with interested students. Chris Pappas was selected by former SOAR Scholarship Committee member Gisela Evitt as the 2013 Evitt Scholar.

Boyeun Kim of South Korea, has traveled around the world (to Turkey, the United States, Japan) gathering the information that she can about spinning traditions. She hopes to bring what she learns back to South Korea where she knows there is a long spinning and weaving tradition, but she has had a hard time finding anyone with living memory of how these traditions worked. She is looking into the South Korean traditions of spinning cotton, hemp, and ramie. She was named by former SOAR Scholarship Committee member Gisela Evitt as the Jodie Aves Scholar for 2013.

After SOAR, the Scholars are asked to write a blog post for the SOAR Scholar's blog, where they can report how they've been able to put what they gleaned from SOAR into action for the spinning community as a whole. Many past SOAR scholars have gone on to become mentors, vendors, and published authors. Some have even come full circle and serve on the scholarship committee.

Happy spinning,

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