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Monthly Archives: September 2013

If Only It Hadn’t Rained

Having an over-abundance of frequent flyer miles, and nothing else to do last weekend, I decided to check out the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, or OFFF, for short. For those of you who are new to fiber festivals, imagine a fairground full of independent artisans selling their own farm-raised fiber, their own dyed roving and yarn, their own lathe-turned spindles. And then there are the fleece sales. For those of us who love this stuff, it’s a shopper’s dream. “Hi. My name is Barbara and I’m a spindleholic.”

OFFF is a small, friendly festival, tucked into the Clackamas County Event Center. The classes looked to be taught by local spinners. Many of the vendors were locals as well. Which is a good thing, because the Pacific Northwest has an abundance of wonderful craftspeople. Steve Poulson of Spindlewood, www.spindlewoodco.com, makes my favorite drop spindles. They aren’t readily available in the Midwest. I own a Hansen mini-Spinner, hansencrafts.com, and love it, and was finally able to try the new lace flyer.  One came home with me.

Above all, I had a chance to try an Olympic spinning wheel, olympicspinningwheels.com. Olympic wheels are small wheels with the treadles on either side of the drive wheel. They are made entirely from quality wood. There is no plywood anywhere. The artist, Gary, works closely with each customer to get them exactly the wheel they want. Of course there are no Olympic wheels anywhere near Chicago, which is what got me to OFFF. The wheel was smooth as butter, a delight to spin on, but because the drive wheel was small, it required a lot of treadling. It wasn’t for me, but if anyone out there is in the market for a small, beautifully made custom wheel, check Olympic out.

It was a lovely trip, despite weather that was horrid even for Oregon. We were stuck under a low pressure system that down trees and caused flooding in Portland. The vendors in tents outside deserve awards for courage and tenacity. A good, if wet, time was had by all.

 

Introductions, and a Leap into Free Space

I am a handspinner, a knitter, a weaver, and a Presbyterian minister working for a middle judicatory. I’m also married, a mother, a grandmother, and a Midwesterner. My heart belongs to Jesus and my family. My hands, however, belong to craft.

There’s something about craft work that feeds the soul. Crafting is tactile, meditative, and creative. God, our creator, calls us to be co-creators and graced us with the marvels of the natural world. I happen to like wool – and silk – and cotton – and linen – in fact, I like just about any fiber that isn’t plastic. Wool breathes. It wicks moisture, making it cool in summer and warm in winter. It doesn’t like to burn. Dress babies in wool, and they know they’re loved.

I am convinced there is a link between craft work and spirituality. We Presbyterians are great with words. We can theologize with the best of them. Craft work bypasses the language center of the brain. It requires us to focus on the present moment. It connects us with the natural world and with all the generations of crafters who have gone before us.

Spinning is older than civilization. Twisted, dyed linen fibers have been found at sites that are 40,000 years old. Some say the human race survived the ice age by twisting fibers into cord. That’s not a bad heritage to follow.

There’s a two-fold purpose to this blog. I hope to explore the relationship between craft work and soul work. To that end, comment, please. The more the merrier. I also plan to post about current projects. Comment there, too.

So to all you crafters out there, join me. How do your hands pray?