began spinning in 1982 after attending a class presented by our local
Cooperative Extension Service (in NY State). The class was called "Working with Wool",
and it was all about choosing a fleece and getting the fibers ready to
spin: sorting; washing; picking; teasing; and
carding the wool. I think each of us in the class had about 10
minutes to try using a wheel.
It was certainly not meant to be much of a spinning
lesson, but for me, it was plenty. I was thoroughly entranced - and bought
my wheel within a few weeks.
following year, my husband gave me a loom - a cute little
counterbalance loom, with a 27 inch weaving width. At the time,
weaving with my handspun seemed like a reasonable next step
along the path spinning was leading me, but it was several years before
my technical skills caught up with all the ideas I had for handspun
In the meantime I practiced a lot, made
presents for family and friends using commercially available yarns, and read as much as I could understand.
Around the time we moved from
rural NY to rural VT, I was asked by a friend to weave cotton fabric (similar to
my heavy weight toweling) large enough for a blanket. Her son was involved in Civil War
Re-enactments and several of the men in his regiment were eager to have
handwoven cotton blankets made to their specifications.
got out and inquiries started
coming in from all over the US. The business of my
weaving began in earnest.
recently, I find myself creating fabrics to sell at the Burlington Farmer's Market.
Much of what I've learned
through the years, I've been
able to access through books and periodicals. My handspinning
changed dramatically when I decided to use the Handweaver's Guild of
America COE (Certificate of Excellence) in Handspinning
as a study guide.
Instead of spinning for the fun of it, - developing the technical skills to control twist and grist suddenly became a passion.
be clear: I have not completed the program. It served
as a most excellent guide and propelled me towards finding out (and
being able to do) what I like to do best - weaving with my handspun.
I consider myself
extremely fortunate to have been able to attend
a workshop by Paula Simmons the very first year I learned to spin.
"Spinning for Softness and Speed" undoubtedly influenced me most
as I began to develop my own spinning style.
Only on rare occasions do I
find myself in the right place at the right time to be able to attend
classes with the people whose books and videos have taught me everything
I've ever wanted (and thought I needed) to know. In 1997, when SOAR came to Vermont, I was able to attend fiber workshops led by Patsy Zawistoski,
Jane Fournier, and Patricia Emerick. In 2000 I
traveled to Webs in Massachusetts to attend a weaving class taught by Virginia
West, and in 2002 I went to Harrisville, NH in order to
breathe the same air as Deborah Chandler. Really. If it
hadn't been for her book, "Learning to Weave", I never would have
understood that I could love measuring yarn and dressing the loom as
much as (or even more than) the weaving itself.
sound a bit silly,
but these people are some of the rock stars of the spinning and
They've been my teachers for the past 24 years, - whether they know it
or not - and I've wanted to thank
them for all the help they've given me. I'm sorry I 'missed' Mabel
Ross, but her work continues to inspire through her books and video.