"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Love of Spinning

If a woman is married to a man and she dies. Then he gets married again, are his new wife and his late wife related? They may not be but somehow, in the events of life that follow, the new wife may very well be related to the remaining family members. At least in the heart.

This story is about that very thing. You see, when my husband, Dean, and his late wife first got married in 1987 (for the second time each), they began attending the church that I attended with my late husband and boys. Dean's two children lived with them (one, a 16 year old boy), so they left promptly after the service each Sunday - to feed the kids, I'm thinking. As a result, I did not get to know Judy for a couple of years. Dean was always just "Judy's husband" to me and we may have never said anything to each other in those years. Maybe a "Hi" in the foyer. Maybe.  

Unknown to me and shortly after they were married, Judy's Swedish mother gave her a family treasure she had stashed up in her attic. It was a Swedish spinning wheel from her grandmother and Dean believes it was brought to "the new country" from Sweden. Judy was hoping to be able to spin with it.

Now one day shortly after that, maybe in 1989, I was demonstrating spinning at the county fair during the sheep show. None of the other ladies in my spinning group could make it that day so I was there alone, in the middle of a sand floored metal building with the sheep ring all down at one end. It might have looked a bit strange and I was feeling slightly out-of-place. But all of a sudden I heard my name, looked up and there was Judy and Dean watching me spin. Judy was very excited to learn that I was a spinner since she was hoping to learn the craft.  

She came to our next monthly spinning get-together with her beloved antique wheel. But we found that it was a flax wheel with a teeny-tiny orifice and it was a bit creaky and grumpy, as old peopl...er...things get. The wheel was better left as an heirloom.

They began looking to buy a newer one for a reasonable price. Stopping one day after work at the late GREAT Weaving Workshop in Madison, WI they found on the bulletin board, an ad for a used wheel for sale at $50.00. 

They found a solid walnut, handcrafted wheel made by a person named R. Pessig. How do I know this, you ask. The name AND address is stamped on the bottom. Long story short, they bought it, Dean was able to make the orifice on it much bigger with a bit of copper pipe and Judy began learning to spin.  

And she LOVED it! Judy had been a single mother for many years and had to work very hard to support her and her growing daughter. I don't know what all she had for jobs but by the time she met Dean, she was a corporate fund raiser with InterVarsity. Her daughter was in college by then but Judy had quite a high pressured job. Spinning was just "the ticket" for her to relax. She thoroughly enjoyed the process and made very "thick & thin yarn," the stuff we pay big bucks for.   

I became good friends with Judy when we went to the Wisconsin State Spin-In in about 1992.  It was "up north" somewhere, maybe Phillips, and we got a little log lodge for the weekend. After that, we shared many good times together, working on various church committees and, of course, spinning.  I never really spoke to Dean until both of our spouses had passed away.

But I have, and her family has, very fond memories of the joy that spinning brought to Judy. We have just one picture of her at her spinning wheel.

The few items she knitted with her hand spun, I've since given to her daughter as, in her daughter's words, "gifts from Mom." But I did find some wool she had bought and spun it up for a hat for Dean's daughter and a scarf for Judy's daughter.

I don't have pictures of those items either.  boo-hoo  But I have one last photo: while Judy was still alive, my sister-in-law, who was also Judy's sister-in-law  :)  took some of Judy's hand spun and knitted a little teddy bear for Dean.  

We can all spin memories, with or without a wheel.  But wheels make it very nice.


  1. How cool! :) Maybe you'll be able to pass the wheel on to your grandchildren. :)

    1. Yes, Dean's daughter will get the newer wheel, when her boys are old enough not to break it and when she's ready for it, space-wise. One day, one of her boys, our grandboys, will have it.


Thanks for the encouragement of your comments.