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A New Spin on an Old Craft Handspun Yarn Gets Its Resurgence

| 6/15/2018 6:47:00 AM

Beautiful Handspun Yarn

When I tell people that my hobby is spinning, they usually assume I mean the trendy exercise class. However, you won’t find me sweating it out in a gym hunched over a stationary bike (although it’s a fair assumption to make as I am a physical education teacher by trade). Rather than pedaling, my spinning involves treadling. And it’s more common than you may think.

What’s Driving Handspinning’s Renewed Popularity?

Handspinning yarn from wool and other materials has seen a resurgence in the last two decades. While I don’t pretend to know all that has brought this about, I do know that it has grown not just in popularity, but the craft also has evolved and flourished as an art. Spinning veterans and newcomers alike are working to preserve traditional knowledge and to push the boundaries by exploring new methods and materials, creating a rich and diverse field of makers and a renewed prominence.

Digital marketplace. Since handspinning’s last wax and wane in popularity, we have seen the development of a global marketplace and communications network. This means that not only do today’s spinners have instant access to information, instructions, and an (amazing!) online community, but we also have easy and fairly inexpensive access to a whole range of materials that were previously difficult to source. With the click of a button, we can have silk from Asia, rare breeds from Great Britain, and Quiviut from the Arctic (ok so that one isn’t inexpensive!) sent right to our door.

Makers movement. Conversely, and likely in reaction to the above-mentioned digital presence in our lives, there has even more recently emerged several co-existing and intertwined movements that push back against the digital age: slow living, the makers movement, and slow fashion.

A sense of place and purpose. Despite how happy we are to have information at our fingertips, it (ironically) leaves us starved for a sense of connection. In reaction, we yearn to savor our creating, to know where the materials came from, and to produce long-lasting, quality garments that can be worn and enjoyed for decades. A step beyond the more mainstream crafts of knitting, crochet, and weaving is spinning your own yarn — possibly even from fleece you’ve sourced and processed yourself.

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