The Origins of my Spinning Story

The Origins of my Spinning Story

Someone asked how I got started with spinning....

Well, the story begins 8 years ago when I found a gorgeous antique spinning wheel at an estate sale. A week after that I found another.  Both sat in my living room unused but loved. I admired the craftsmanship, the worn patina of the wood and the beautiful shapes of the woodturnings.

One day something just clicked and I decided to see if I could make them work. I quickly discovered one had glue in places that were NOT recommended. The other was noisy and hard to use. Suddenly I just HAD to get them working properly. It was an unshakeable urge. Then I found another second hand wheel - a modern Ashford Traditional. So I got that one too. And started actually spinning.

I found a very helpful fiber group on Facebook. Generous, kind people answered dozens of my beginner questions. With practice - and plenty of frustration - I got the hang of it. 

Meanwhile the other two wheels taught me how to fix, tinker and adjust antique wheels - I've since fallen in love with rescuing these old girls and getting them back into service after years of neglect.

Months went by.  My skills improved and boxes of handspun yarn began to stack up.  I wondered what I should do with it all...since I don't knit (and never will). So I thought maybe I'd do some weaving. I bought a small loom. Then found an antique table loom to restore (ya, that is clearly a THING with me!).

2 years in and I'm now selling my yarns and woven pieces. A this point there are 16 or so wheels in my house. Plenty of other wheels have been restored and put in the hands of other spinners.

Thinking more about this however it seems my fiber journey started much much earlier...

During my travels I've always been fascinated with local weavers and spinners in places like Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Nepal.  I've watched carpet makers in Turkey and spent plenty of time in antique carpet shops.  I've looked through the nooks of local markets for fiber finds all over Asia and the Middle East. 

I've also explored the spiritual connections. Weaving and spinning have links to women's sacred traditions - everything from how the dye vats are tended to the sacred symbols found in weavings or carved into spindles, whorls, shuttles and other weaving implements.

In my study of ancient Goddess traditions I've often found Goddess motifs carved on ancient loom weights or spindle whorls. I find the birth symbol woven into carpets, and other textiles filled with magical symbols of healing, creation, regeneration and rebirth.

Weaving, spinning, women and Goddess is a richly intertwined world of symbolic language that I've been exploring for over 20 years. So I guess it is only fitting that I finally started my own path as a fiber artist.

Every time I pick up my own spindle I feel connected with those ancient threads. In a very small way I am part of the lineage of women who made fabric, clothing, cordage, nets, baskets, carpets, saddle bags, gathering bags, baby carriers, blankets and other beautiful, functional things.