Lifestyle

How to spin a yarn: Whidbey Weavers Guild puts on a show

Anne Berry, a Whidbey Weavers Guild member from Anacortes, spins sock yarn Sunday during the 38th annual Spin-In in the Oak Harbor High School Student Union Building.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times.
Anne Berry, a Whidbey Weavers Guild member from Anacortes, spins sock yarn Sunday during the 38th annual Spin-In in the Oak Harbor High School Student Union Building.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times.

Dozens of fast hands were drawing wool during a two-day Whidbey Island “spin-in” last weekend.

The annual event was filled with lectures, spinning workshops and fabric vendors.

“Some people think ‘It’s just yarn’ but there are so many techniques and ways to use color,” Ann Smith of the Whidbey Weavers’ Guild said.

The guild, a community of fiber artists, has organized the event since 1972. Over the years, spin-in has moved from a 4-H building in Langley to a multi-purpose room at Coupeville Elementary. The event eventually relocated to Oak Harbor High School, and attendance grew from 45 people in ‘72 to 160 people in 2007.

Organizer Anne Berenaman said that about 230 people registered for the 2010 affair.

Along with allowing for some heavy-duty shopping, the event gave visitors a look at the roots of fiber arts and some of its latest innovations. Sunday, Amelia Garripoli, the featured presenter, taught the crowd how to spin vividly colored sock yarn. She demonstrated that the yarn can be used to create fingerless gloves.

The high school cafeteria was a backdrop of spinning wheels and looms, and attendees broke into smaller semi-circles to practice.

The process starts with a raw material, usually wool or cotton, and it is carefully spun into yarn for woven or knitted fabric. Many times, the guild shares wool from local alpaca or sheep shearings.

Jean Spalti, who has spun for 10 years, said the process is almost hypnotizing.

“Creating my own yarn and the meditation of doing it is extremely soothing,” she said.

Across the room, about 30 vendors were busy selling fleece, fibers, yarn, books, portable spinning wheels and soap among others. The vendors also donated door prizes.

For more information about the Whidbey Weaver’s Guild and upcoming events, visit www.whidbeyweaversguild.org.

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