n 1964, as newlyweds living in Charleston, West Virginia, my husband, Tom, and I would go to the Laundromat each week, and while waiting for our laundry to dry, we would walk around the block. Each week, we’d pass an antique store with a spinning wheel sitting in the window, and each week, I’d comment about the beautiful wheel. I didn’t know what I’d do with it, but it kept drawing my attention. At a hundred dollars, it was certainly out of reach for our small budget, but I continued to stop and visit with the wheel. The gentleman in the store said it was from an old farmhouse in West Virginia. I would touch the wheel and think about who might have owned it and what she made from the yarn she spun. One day Tom came home with my wheel. He had saved money for months to give me this special gift. I looked at him with astonishment and declared, “I will learn to spin.” The wheel sat in our home as decoration, and I would spin the wheel around and around with my hand. Our daughter was born, and as she grew, the wheel was something for her to play with. She would push the treadle up and down and sit her toys on it. As a busy mother, my thoughts of learning to spin diminished. We attended the Mountain State Arts and Craft Fair, and once again I was entranced by the magic of the spinning wheel. I stood for a long time watching a group of spinners with large and small wheels, the women spinning and talking. I approached the women and told them about my most beautiful spinning wheel. No one offered to let me sit and try the wheels before
me, though my heart longed just to sit and try for a moment. I went home that day and sat at my wheel, but I had no idea of what to do, and again the wheel was set aside. Years went by, and I kept watching the spinners at the arts and craft fair; finally someone shared with me how to take cotton twine and make
kids now playing and spinning it as fast as they could, and once again it became just a decoration. Time passed quickly, and now it was 1996 and we were proud owners of llamas with bags of fiber stuffed in our outbuilding. We went to llama shows and other fiber events, and the magic of the spinning wheel ensnared me once again. We were invited to attend a spin-in, and there were ladies and wheels everywhere. This time it was my turn to sit at the wheel and learn. I learned that my antique wheel was very wobbly and difficult to use, so I purchased a beautiful Louet wheel, and now I had two spinning wheels to decorate my house. Then I was invited to take spinning lessons from the most gifted, wonderful woman, Billy Bannerman. Thirty-five years after the draw of that first spinning wheel, my dream of learning to spin is now a reality. The circle is almost complete as our fiber guild has been invited to demonstrate spinning at the Mountain State Arts and Craft Fair. As I sit and spin, I ask those watching, “Do you want to try my wheel?” It is my turn to teach others about the magic of the spinning wheel. As the fiber slides through my fingers, the sound of the treadle and the whirl of the flyer allow me time to reminisce and smile as I think about the magic of the spinning wheel and what it has given to me. z
Enchanted by a Spinning Wheel
Judy Ros s
a drive band. I went home happy—now I would spin! But it didn’t happen as I expected, and my elation turned to discouragement. What are these hooks for? How do I thread this thing? I needed more instruction, so the wheel sat for another period of time with school
Judy Ross and her husband ,Tom, share their Good News Farm (http://goodnewsllamas.com) with twenty-six llamas in southern Ohio. She spins, crochets, felts, knits, and loves using natural dyes for her llama fiber. Judy is currently studying to become a llama fleece judge and facilitates workshops on working with and preparing llama fleece.