Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


The words jumped out at me.

“October 6—12, 2014

Spinzilla—A Monster of a Spinning Week

On your Mark! Get Ready! Spin!

Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals compete in a friendly challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week!”

All those exclamation marks really hyped me up. I clicked out of the website and went downstairs. I made sure I had enough fiber to keep me going for a month, then oiled my Schacht Ladybug and placed it in front of one of the dining room chairs. I was ready.

I accepted the invitation to join the Schacht team a few weeks ago. Then a couple of days before the beginning of Spinzilla week, I received an offer to write a guest-blog post for Schacht, and a promise of a T-shirt. A T-shirt? I had trouble containing my excitement.

Unfortunately, October 6 happened to be a particularly busy day at work and I couldn’t start spinning until the evening. Wanting to spin uninterrupted for several hours, I decided to wait until after a quick supper.

Finally, I sat in front of the spinning wheel and dipped my hand into the various bags of fiber. I fondled some creamy white merino, black, brown, and caramel alpaca, and an alpaca/silk blend. The choice was made for me—caramel alpaca for an appetizer and the alpaca/silk for dessert. And the rest… I’d play by ear.

As soon as I began treadling, a cloud of alpaca flowing through my fingers, I felt the calm descend on me. And I remembered all over again why I spin.

There’s an earthiness about spinning that connects me to the land, to our past. It reminds me of times when the rhythm of our lives was more in tune with the rhythm of the natural world.

I love losing myself to the rhythm of my feet treadling and the wheel turning. I love meditative quality of spinning, the quiet it brings me. Unless the fiber is particularly luscious, when I spin, my mind roams, imagining shearing and carding, dreaming about projects past and projects to come. I feel connected to other spinners past and present.

During Spinzilla week, I felt that connection more acutely. As I spun, I felt a sense of community with all those others spinners who were spinning with me, some focused on the process. Others, their attention on the end product. Some solitary, enjoying the quiet, others, in groups, chatting and laughing.
All of us industriously creating the yarn that binds us together into a community.
As I sat and spun my caramel alpaca, wearing my team T-shirt, I imagined the spinners on my team, in a circle on the patch of grass by the gazebo outside the Schacht factory. I saw them, in my mind’s eye, sitting at their wheels, focused on their spinning.
When I spun the black alpaca, I envisioned the hat I would knit. Would I use an Aran pattern or keep it plain? Or perhaps I would weave a scarf instead.
As the alpaca flowed and entered the twist, the words for the guest-blog flowed through my mind. I’d set them free into the world later, after I filled my first bobbin. Perhaps after the second, or after I finished plying.
Finally, it was time for dessert, October 12, the last day of Spinzilla. I was exhausted by the time I finished plying the black alpaca, I really should have gone to bed, but I couldn’t resist the alpaca/silk.
It spun like a dream. I watched it flow through my fingers, enter the twist, and wind onto the bobbin. All I could see in my mind’s eyes was the swirl of caramel alpaca and white silk. I saw nothing else, no hats or scarves, no spinners from the past, or from the present. I was in a dreamlike state, unaware of anything else other than spinning. All my senses, my entire being was focused on this luscious fiber.