Debbie Drake – The Call of the Fiber
When I was a young woman, my grandmother taught me to tat and I became proficient and passionate about it over the years. Eventually, I found a wonderful group of friends on-line that shared my passion and learned of their many other fiber-related hobbies, such as bobbin-lace, knitting, weaving, spinning, and so on. They were constantly trying to expand my horizons and infect me with their passions. Though I resisted (really I did), I gradually relented to the call of the fiber that runs deep in my soul.
When my mother passed away, I inherited her seldom-used knitting needles and taught myself to knit. My fiber-friends saw my new enthusiasm and suggested spinning my own yarn. I bristled, telling them I didn’t need yet another passion. With a twinkle in their eyes, they just smiled, knowing that the allure of our craft was more compelling than their words could ever be.
One of my fiber friends eventually tempted me with the gift of some fluffy rich green merino fiber and the loan of a drop spindle to get started. The hook was set! It didn’t take me long to spin through that, search out local fiber sources, and begin the search for a spinning wheel.
I found an ad for a beautiful Schacht Matchless (1988) and my wonderful husband bought it for my birthday. We brought her home, oiled her up, and named her “Bella.” Despite her age, she spins with the easy handling and drive of a finely crafted automobile. I was so impressed with the quality of this wheel that it became impossible to resist adding both a Sidekick and a Ladybug to my “stable” when the opportunity presented itself. I don’t really need three wheels, but can’t bear to part with any of them.
Many fibers have been transformed on these wheels – cotton, alpaca, wool, cashmere, silk, and even yak. I, too, am transformed with every rhythmic treadle and every bit of fluff that passes through my hands. What a thrill to create lovely yarn with my own hands and then to knit or weave it into another form altogether. The things we, as humans, learn about ourselves through tactile experiences (such as these) are truly invaluable.