September 02, 2009

"Fishing" with a Drop Spindle

This past weekend a friend organized a multiple vendor outdoor yard and craft sale. I went to hang out and do a little spinning in public.

A couple of preteen girls were all "Wow!" when they saw my drop spindle spinning around. Bright blue wool doesn't hurt, eh?

I went through my usual, "Here, if you take a piece of wool, you can tear it easily but if you twist it in your fingers the strands become strong and that's spinning" spiel.

They tried it and they understood the mechanics of spinning, and then the girls made what I consider a very smart connection: "There's a wood turner over there [at another booth]; maybe he has drop spindles for sale."

They went over and checked, and came back to report that he didn't.

Now, in the last year I have become a great fan of drop spindles. I think there should be more of them in the world, especially spindles made by independent local craftspeople and especially made by vendors who go to the people and sell where established fibre arts suppliers are unlikely to go (like this onetime outdoor market).

I thought it was a great pity the wood turner didn't have any drop spindles.

I judged that this lack of drop spindles on his part was likely due to lack of proper exposure. After all, until last year the drop spindle had only been an abstract name and a static image in books to me.

I felt it incumbent upon myself to ensure the man had a chance to see a drop spindle. I decided to go near the wood turner's booth in his line of vision and spin. My friend the organizer was taking photos of all the vendors, so I went with her over to the turner's spot.

Stand, spin, smile, nothing, okay, let's move on. But then, my jigging* caught his attention! The wood turner came over and quickly started sketching the drop spindle's shape, and then he asked questions to be sure that if he made and sold drop spindles he wouldn't be stealing anyone's design.

Well, no, drop spindles have been around for thousands of years so it's not as though anyone has a claim to the basic shape, and here's another one for you to look at with a different shape and weight for comparison, I told him.

So I am pretty happy about the results of my recent spinning in public.

* I use the term jigging metaphorically. We used to sing a song in school about the "Squid Jiggin' Ground." It was a song about fishing, from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. (For us British Columbian kids on the opposite side of the country this was pretty culturally foreign but then so were maple sugaring and Bonhomme from Quebec and Nanabush tales from Ontario and a lot of other things they taught us, and the song was enjoyably catchy to sing.) I've jigged for salmon, myself, in Broughton Strait (in B.C.). Jigging means you pull up the rod quickly and let it down again, so if you actually jigged with a drop spindle, you'd probably drop it.

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