15th November 2008
We had a "distinguished" guest at our spinner guild meeting last Saturday! Judith MacKenzie McCuin was in town to teach some classes on spinning, spinning for weaving and spinning for knitting (none of which I could take because it was the first of the month and there was no way I could have responsibly taken the time off from work to go - darn). Anyhow, she came in the afternoon and gave a little talk on the history of spinning in North America.
I have never given much thought to the "politics" of fiber until recently - hearing Celia Quinn speak about spinning with drop spindles and the impact that it had on civilization - and now listening to Judith speak -
Fiber - fabric (or the lack of), and being taxed on their own wool, (along with the other unfriendly policies that England imposed), was part of what brought the colonies to war.
I probably should have stopped my spinning and taken notes - I'm so A.D.D. that all I have to do is see a bird on a branch outside and I lose my train of thought and anything that went in one ear, escaped out the other without being noticed or remembered. BUT, I have ordered Ms. MacKenzies' new book, "The Intentional Spinner" from Interweave Press. So maybe after I read it, I'll give you all a book report...
It was wonderful to have our friend Donna from Sedro Woolley come and join our merry group.
Judith also told some stories of her childhood in British Columbia - learning to spin the fluffy wool of the coastal Salish sheep from the First Nations spinners who prepare the yarn for their famous Cowichan sweaters by rubbing it on their leg - collect a little yarn, knit a little, go back to "spinning" - She gave us some samples of this lofty wool to try - it didn't work for me - but some were able to get a respectable yarn by doing this method. I realized that the yarn used in a locally crocheted shawl that The Shepherd gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago was probably made by this same way. I had never been able to figure out how they got such a thick yarn with a spinning wheel - that's one mystery solved.