Spinning in the New Year!
Spinning may leave us with our hands full, but we can still make merry while doing it. The start of the New Year signals a time for doing just that in many groups. A traditional holiday celebrating spinning is St. Distaff’s Day, the Monday following Epiphany (January 6 or Twelfth Night), a date which can vary each calendar year. A number of guilds annually schedule Rock Day (for the German word rocken meaning distaff) with festivities and exhibitions of spinning techniques. If you are looking for a way to liven up the winter months, here are some ideas gleaned from your newsletters to set your wheels a-turning. And if you are looking for a resolution to make, think about the words of the Rock Day Spinners Guild (New York) motto, “Happy is a spinner who spins and spins and spins and then makes stuff!”
Silly Spinning Games was a success for disrupting “cabin fever” for the Genesee Valley Handspinners (New York). Feats included spinning the longest continuous strand of yarn wearing gloves, spinning the thinnest singles, and team spinning with one person holding the wheel steady and still while a second treadled it as fast as possible as a third walked backwards spinning, roving held in one hand. The first team to spin a yarn from one side of the room to the other won.
A spin-out in Maine sponsored by T.H.E. Spinners conducted Spinning Games that challenged the individual to perform the Most Yarn Spun While Blindfolded in Five Minutes on a Spinning Wheel, the Most Yards on the Drop Spindle, the Smoothest Yarn, and the Lumpiest Yarn. A two-member-team contest called Spin to the Wall involved one person treadling while a second spun yarn walking backwards until reaching the designated spot.
The Back of the Wasatch Woolpack Handspinners (Utah) has set members to the task of spinning the longest thread with plastic bags worn on the hands in two heats, one for spindle spinners and one for wheel spinners. A handspindle team competition involved one person drafting fiber without touching the spindle while the other turned the spindle without touching the fibers. Winners received a custom wood spindle as a souvenir.
An elaborate party for spinners is given each December by the Spindles & Flyers Spinning Guild (California) in celebration of St. Fleecia. The tongue-in-cheek legend created by member Margaret Jaeger is about Knytta, the Mitten Goddess and Mytta, the Knittin’ Goddess. The guild has created folklore that traces a Scandinavian maiden, Felicia, who appeared dressed in white and crowned with candles to distribute Lucia buns. She became known as Fleecia, or the fleece maiden, and she appears “wherever a quorum of spinners gathers to celebrate in that month (her day is a moveable feast). Traditionally it was an honor to have St. Fleecia appear. . . . [She] rewarded diligent spinners with new spindles or more fleece (more spinning to get done in between turning the oat cakes and stacking the peat turves . . .) and chastised lazy spinners by leaving sheep droppings in their shoes on Christmas Eve.” Each year she makes an appearance at the Spindles & Flyers guild in full regalia.
Incidentally, there is a group named DISTAFF, an acronym for Discussion, Interpretation and Study of Textile Arts, Fabrics and Fashion, which holds an annual conference. However you end the year or bring in the new, I hope spinning in good company is on the list. And please stay connected by sending us news of your guild’s plans and dreams for 2009.