Spirited Away to a Spinner’s Delight

You will watch nearly two hours for the first glimpse of fiber arts in Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant 2001 anime film. You will hardly notice the time pass, though, as the adventures of a young girl trapped in a spirit world unfold. Although Miyazaki’s films My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo are better known, Spirited Away is considered one of the best animated films of all time.

spirited away

The film is reaching the end when Chihiro, the heroine, travels to visit a nasty-tempered witch, two enchanted friends and a subdued monster trailing her. But the woman has mellowed into a nurturing Granny whose house is filled with yarn: skeins hang from the rafters; balls sit in baskets on the table; a simple loom waits warped and ready. The monster sits down at a flax spinning wheel, which is set up in double drive with a full distaff, and makes a good linen yarn. Granny teaches several of the characters to knit. When Chihiro leaves, Granny gives her a handspun hair tie for protection.

Spirited Away has plenty to enchant non-spinners, but the scenes in Granny’s cottage reward the fiber-loving viewer with a special delight.

Spirited Away. By Hayao Miyazaki. Japan: Studio Ghibli, 2001. Distributed in the United States by Disney Video (watch a trailer).

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