What was life like for you before you learned to spin?
Long before spinning yarn became a part of my life, I worked part-time providing education programs to encourage adults to use the Nature Center at the Saint Joseph County Park. Charlotte Bass, a local quilter and the bicentennial director for the county, was looking for venues to create interest in the upcoming 1976 celebration. An expert in colonial arts from Virginia was visiting the area and offered to teach a session on handspinning. My job was to publicize what to bring (a small potato and a 12-inch-long piece of dowel) and help during the event to make it a success. On the night of the program, a young man came dressed in linen he had spun from flax grown in a field near his home, woven into material on his loom, and sewn into a three-piece suit! He brought a great wheel and began to demonstrate the process of making yarn. Of the more than twenty visitors watching, not one knew how to spin (nor did I at the time). But within two hours, people of all ages were standing together with potatoes dangling from twirling dowels upheld in their hands connected by a tuft of wool. The scene of delighted faces, including a grandmother spinning side by side with her nine-year-old granddaughter, is still vivid in my mind. Because I was on duty that night, I didn’t get a chance to try spinning myself, but I was like a moth circling a source of light; spinning captured my imagination, and I soon was caught in a web of my own threads.
What was life like for you before you learned to spin? Last January, Peg MacMorris of the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild (Colorado) purchased a handspindle at the guild’s sale but has yet to spin on it. When she saw the beauty of the wood and the elegance of it in motion, she suddenly could not imagine leaving without it. She wrote about the allure of fiber and how the sight of its colors and textures, the sounds associated with using it in spinning wheels, knitting needles, or shuttles, and the touch of running it through our fingers as we work draws us to the fiber.
Stephanie Fesenger, a member of the Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers Guild (Virginia), once shared how hard it was for her to make conversation with strangers until finding common interests. After being transferred to a new job location, she attended the employee picnic. Not knowing anyone to talk to, she brought her handspindle out of the car to pass the time. Quickly she became the center of attention and several employees discovered they held similar interests without ever knowing it. Within a few minutes, she had turned an uncomfortable silence into a lively conversation of people talking about their love of crafts.
Paula Vester, a member of the Peachtree Handspinners (Georgia), at one time wrote, “When I learned to spin, little did I know that it would spread out and weave into all the other facets of my life. Spinning has overrun my life as well as my home, and its pursuit and activity winds its way through a large part of my daily life.”
Spinning is one of those activities that unconsciously influences us long after the time spent in performing it has gone by. Part of the healing element of any task are the unnoticed aspects that take place while doing it-the exercise of our fingers and movement of our limbs, the increased circulation and rhythm of our hearts, the suspension of stress with the subtle change in breathing. When we spin there is a difference-in our health, in our outlook, and in what we are able to give to others as a result. How has it changed you? We would love to hear from you and learn of your guild’s activities. Pictures of your group’s projects may be entered for possible posting here. The content for this column comes directly from you, our readers. If you are new to the Spinner’s Connection, welcome to the community! Send news and your reflections about spinning to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to all those editors who keep me on their mailing lists. Let’s continue the connection.