CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

It’s all Magic

A Brief History of  (My) Spinning.

Back in the day, the early 70’s when I took up weaving, the obvious adjunct to all things fiber was learning to spin. Conventional wisdom dictated that you learn to spin on a drop spindle before plunging in to the intricacies of a spinning wheel with bobbins and maidens and treadles; flyers, drive bands, and a wheel. Putting foot, hand, and eye together to make yarn was supposed to be much more difficult than spinning on a suspended spindle. It was not.

The Classic Ashford Wheel

Most of us, tired of the vagaries of hand spindles, bought a treadle wheel, probably a new Ashford like mine, economical, efficient, and readily available from Straw Into Gold in Berkeley.

Skilled teachers published books and gave spinning workshops. Workshops were offered at the yarn emporiums that proliferated in the Bay area. And local enthusiasts, were willing, for a small fee, to share their expertise — if any. We would gather at a House In the Woods down a gravel lane to eat healthy, flavorless lentil soup, practice pumping our wheels and discuss the fine new tradition of spinning all things wool regardless of grease, dirt or gunky fleece. What we spun were funky, clunky skeins and it was all magic.

We gradually honed our skills, learned about quality fibers, and how to spin a superior yarn suitable for our fiber projects. My spinning got finer and finer, as in thinner.  I like fine yarns but any more I can’t consistently spin anything else. I want choices, but I need help. And come October I will get it at the Wool Festival in Taos with Abby Franquemont who will show me in her Rut Buster Extraordinaire 3 day workshop how to bust my rut. Not only that, but I will participate in her All Spindles, All Day workshop because spindle spinning is In big time now and I’ll be right there enjoying high whorl, low whorl, suspended and supported spinning.

Stone whorl on drop spindle

A support spindle

A selection of Spindles

Isn’t it marvelous? What goes around comes around just like the spindle and the spinning wheel. It’s all magic.

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