The Story Behind the Wacky Blanket
How a Magazine Article is Born
Fresh copies of the 2011 Spin-Off Collection CD just landed on my desk, and inside the case is a lovely large photo of Avedan Raggio’s Wacky Blanket from the Summer 2011 issue—I instantly flashed back to the first time I encountered the blanket at Spin-Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR) 2010 at the Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin. While SOAR participants were busily spinning away in class, Liz Good and I were setting up the Handspun Gallery in a room that was normally used by the resort staff to do art projects with kids. Construction paper, glitter, and markers were spilling out of cabinets, and all the chairs and tables were half-pint sized and smeared with paint (don’t worry—no paint or glitter got onto the handspun garments!).
We were opening up bags with the entries to the handspun gallery submitted by SOAR participants—each one delightful in its own way—and working on transforming that creative space into a differently creative space. We pulled out wee-bitty baby booties and "oooh" and "ahhed" over them for a bit and then figured out how to display them to best effect. Sometimes we were compelled to try on a cardigan or a hat while we thought of how we were going to hang it up.
Avedan took all the bits and pieces she spindle spun as a beginner to weave her Wacky Blanket.
Then we got to the bag that contained Avedan’s enormous Wacky Blanket. We knew we were dealing with something significant from the moment we picked it up—it was huge and heavy! We opened up the bag and unfolded and unfolded yards and yards of yummy handspun blanket. It filled the gallery space. I found the gallery card and read on it that Avedan had spindle spun all of the yarn—not only that, it was her beginning yarn. She had woven it on a rigid-heddle loom and stitched the pieces together to make a blanket—all this while she was a student of archaeology. I pretty much ran out of the gallery and tracked her down to beg her to write up her story and submit it to Spin-Off.
She resisted the idea at first—blushing and stating that she was a beginning spinner and that she didn’t think that she could do it, confessing that she had even wondered about submitting it to the SOAR gallery. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard this! I’m always amazed. The thing is that everyone of us has the experience of being a beginner spinner—we all start at the beginning. It is a commonality we share across our diversity as spinners. And seeing how someone handles their beginning yarn, especially someone who has handled it so uniquely, is very inspiring. We received so many emails, photos, and letters to that effect after the story was published.
Every article starts somewhere, and even those spinners with impressively spindle-spun rigid-heddle-woven queen-size blankets sometimes need a little encouragement. Do you have a special project or spinning experience you would like to share with our readers? We are always accepting submissions for articles and would love to hear about it.