Remembering My Friend, Alden Amos

Posted By Web Manager on December 30, 2015

“A Stradivari of spinning wheels,” and “the best curmudgeon in the world,” is how he is described by the New York Times. Alden Amos was my friend. My enthusiasm for his recent article on “Handspun Rope: The Hows and Whys of an Ancient Craft” in Spin-Off ¬†prompted a letter to the editor. It was an opportunity to tell the fiber world of the generosity of this man and his impact on me and thousands of kids who “learned the ropes” on a machine made by Alden. There are kids in El Dorado County who have photos encircled with handmade rope from “the machine.” Horses and ponies are lead from their pastures with handmade ropes from “the machine.” Children in Nevada skip rope with a handmade rope from “the machine.”

Alden’s infectious enthusiasm for all things fiber, his profound knowledge of woodworking, and his willingness to share left a mark on all members of my family. In his quest for knowledge of steam bending rockers for a rocking chair, my father asked if I thought Alden had a bit of time to answers some questions. On a sunny afternoon, after several hours in Alden’s shop, my dad reappeared with a smile on his face. Traveling home, he said, “I have never known someone who could impart such a tremendous amount of knowledge about wood, its lamination, and adhesives, AND who also could give you the composition of each and the whys of which worked best!” My husband was inspired by Alden to build a hammered dulcimer for me. Alden conspired with my husband to build me a great wheel for an anniversary gift. When my son was young and studying the Renaissance in school, he informed his teacher that he knew a Renaissance man, and his name was Alden Amos. ¬†

How about a trebuchet from which you could launch fiber frogs? That project captured Alden in 2011 for the CNCH conference in Sutter Creek. Attendees gathered one evening to launch their frogs into a “pond” while being cheered on by Mark Twain. Only Alden would have found time to create such a diversion for a conference.

Alden Amos died on November 28 in Jackson, California. The gifts of knowledge, time, and interests that Alden shared cannot be measured. How will I remember my friend? I will spin and spin and spin, then I will “Git A Rope!”

Kathleen McPherson