The nature of our community

Earth, wind, water, and fire

Judith MacKenzie teaching at Sunriver Resort, Oregon, at SOAR 2009.

Whether you've read her articles in Spin-Off, pored over her books, watched her DVDs, or traveled near or far to take classes with her, it is likely that Judith MacKenzie has touched your spinning life. In the dining hall for breakfast on October 28th, the last day of SOAR 2012, I saw Judith MacKenzie briefly to wish her a safe trip home. She was concerned about a possible Tsunami that was headed toward her home in Forks, Washington, but relieved that it had been downgraded and wasn't likely to be as bad as earlier predicted. Meanwhile, on the other coast, Super Storm Sandy was brewing and a number of spinners were concerned about how they were going to get home or what they'd find when they got there.

When I got home to Colorado, I was surprised to get a message from Kate Larson, another SOAR mentor, wondering if I had heard about the fire in Forks, and whether I had heard from Judith. I hurriedly contacted Judith and was relieved to learn that she was okay. However, the fire in the downtown building in Forks had destroyed the community theater and the spinning and weaving studio at the Rainforest Arts Center where she is an artist-in-residence. Fortunately no one was injured in the fire—it occurred in the wee hours and was likely an electrical fire.

In typical Judith-style, though this is a devastating personal loss, she is most worried about the students who had stored equipment in the studio as well as the impact the loss of the theater will have on the Forks community. She's determined to replace the wheels and looms of her students first.

Over 12 spinning wheels and 14 looms were destroyed in the fire, in addition, Judith lost her library of textile books, more fleeces and fiber than is possible to imagine (including the bison fiber she collected during years of working with her herd in Montana), her textile collection, and slides that she's been gathering for over thirty years of teaching and traveling. She's also lost the samples and swatches that she uses when she teaches. A website has been created by a group of her close friends, On the website, you can donate directly, find a PO Box if you want to mail something to Judith, or look at a list of items that were lost.

On Tuesday November 13, 2012,  an online auction opened to raise money to help Judith rebuild her studio. In addition to this, Interweave is donating 10% of sales of the Judith MacKenzie Support DVD Bundle: Three Bags Full and Popular Wheel Mechanics,  from now to until November 19, 2012, directly to Judith.

It is heartening to see this generosity and outpouring, though it is not surprising. Judith has really touched so many lives—many of us see it as our chance to give back to someone who has given so much to us.

There are also many people who lost homes and studios in the storms that hit the East Coast at the same time—they may not have this strong community to rally around them as Judith does. Consider a donation to the American Red Cross, or The Craft Emergency Relief Fund,, which has been helping artists and artisans recover from catastrophic loss since 1985.

Happy spinning,

Post a Comment