Thursday, October 13, 2005

All I have to say...

is that I'm glad my livelihood does not depend on spinning. That's why it is a hobby, one that I do enjoy very much, but a hobby. I will gladly admit that I am glad my family does not depend on me to spin yarn and weave cloth in order to keep them clothed. I enjoy spinning partly because, to me, it is a tribute to those who had to do it.

My first interest in spinning was when I took a Roman technology course back in college. I did a report on spinning and dyeing in Ancient Rome, but somehow never took it up at that point. But it did continue to fascinate me and when I went back to knitting after a hiatus, spinning seemed like something I also needed to do.

People who don't knit or spin don't quite get why I would want to do it. They do understand knitting a little more, but spinning? Many people don't even realize that handspinning still exists. When I checked out a spinning book at the library, the librarian asked me if they still made spinning wheels. I didn't tell her that they even still make spindles. Why would anyone actually spin anymore if we can just buy clothes ready-made in the store. It's all about the process for me. Yes, it's slow and it took me many hours to get just 150 yards of laceweight, but I enjoyed it. The process of drawing out the yarn and watching the wheel spin is meditative. And it gives me an appreciation for the time when we were not a disposable society. A time when women spun linen, cotton and wool on spindles (and later wheels) to be woven into cloth. There were no synthetic dyes and people did not have vast closets of clothes.

A great book on the subject of ancient textiles is Women's Work by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. It explains why spinning and weaving and the like traditionally fell to women until around the industrial age. I think I can appreciate the women who came before me more because I do spin and dabble in other fiber arts. But I am glad that I don't have to do it.


Blogger Debi said...

Aren't we so lucky that we can practice these wonderful crafts as a *hobby* NOT a livelihood?

You can be Pumpkin's Auntie Alison since you can't have a kitty of your own :)

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Dad;
What you said of spinning is true of most hobbies. But if it weren't for our ancestors who learned to do such things, we would not have had anything on which to improve. An efficient process must start at its most basic form. It is fun to go back and do it the old fashioned way, but as you said it is a time consuming process. I like to do leatherwork, although I hardly find the time anymore. Woodworking is enjoyable too and it is the hands on old fashioned way that is the most satisfying. Hobbies are just that, because they take patience and provide satisfaction and a look at how things used to be done and how they have evolved over the years

8:43 AM  
Blogger LadyV said...

My sentiments exactly. It is all about the process for me; and the connection to times past. I often wonder with all of our technology and gadgets to help us do things faster why we so often complain about the time we "don't" have. I like to take time to re-connect with a slower paced activity but as you said, if I had to make all the quilts to warm the beds, every sweater and sock to warm the body, and sew the items of clothing, I'd be in trouble :-)even though there are many accessible fabric stores, the internet, computerized sewing machines, etc. that the women "way back when" did not have.

10:19 AM  

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