When we learned that 2009 was to be the United Nations’ Year of Natural Fiber, our first thought was, “Wow! What can we do that’s really special?” Our second thought was, “Wait a minute—we’re about natural fiber EVERY year! What’s special about that?” Our sister publication, Handwoven, found this to be a particular dilemma. While Handwoven sometimes uses regenerated fibers such as rayon or bamboo in its projects, petrochemical yarns almost never show up in its pages. Weavers, like spinners, are just natural and green by nature.
Nevertheless, Handwoven’s special “Year of the Natural Fiber” issue in May has some special and unusual treats for fiber enthusiasts of every persuasion.
• There’s a focus on alpaca from the Andean highlands, spindle-spun by elders who have lost the strength to weave on their backstrap looms—what to do with it, how to get some. (Here’s a little video of spinners in the mountain community of Acopia—some spinning, some plying, all using their own homegrown sheeps’ wool and local natural dyes.)
• Buffalo, aka American Bison, and the stories of how it gets from that big shaggy animal (or the fences it rubs against) into small production runs of yarn suitable for knitting or weaving.
• Silk, both wild and tame, from worm to warp. And so on.
As a spinner, you probably spend 99% of your time spinning natural fibers. If you’re a weaver, Handwoven gives you a wealth of ideas for how to use it up—hearty kitchen towels of natural-colored cotton, a handsome tow linen runner, an elegant but rustic wild silk scarf, buffalo pillows, and more. And as a spinner, you don’t have to buy yarn! You can make your own!
Appreciating wonderful yarn is at the heart of the sisterhood/brotherhood of spinners and weavers. It’s why we check labels. It’s why we count twist. It’s why we have stashes. If your stash includes handspun yarn just waiting for a purpose, check out Handwoven’s May issue. Great projects, great information, great stories.