This is the beginning of a rag rug made from several pairs of sleep pants. It came out 21 inches wide and I think 4 feet long, and it is soft as butter. Now, it's on the Gear Floor at Lanterman's Mill in Mill Creek Park, Youngstown, Ohio, waiting for Saturday and the start of the Olde-Fashioned Christmas in the historic grist mill. If you're in the area, stop by! The crafters are there Saturday and Sunday, but I can't guarantee that this great rug will be there too long! All my rugs are one of a kind, and woven from recycled materials on my Union 36 carpet loom.
Spin Together 2022
“Spin Together is about the joy of spinning and the opportunity to share that joy with others who also like to spin.” Spin Together is a celebration of Spinning & Weaving Week, a team-based competition that ll takes place online. Over 500 team members participated, from 11 countries.
Noon on October 1, 2022 to Noon on October 8, 2022. Your local time. Spin where you want, as much as you can, whatever fiber you want. Then measure your yardage, report to your team captain. And in between support your teammates and form a community.
I had participated in 3 Spinzillas, so I knew the fiber I’d spin—Chevy, the ram at the Chardon Farm Park. I had plenty of it cleaned, dyed and ready to card. I took part in Tour de Fleece for the first time this year, and I liked the Facebook group format for forming community. Now, to choose a team as they formed up. I didn’t want to join anything ultra-competitive, and feel like I was letting the team down—I do work full-time, so I can’t spend 10 hours a day spinning. Some teams might be able to meet in person, or by Zoom. Again, might not fit my schedule. Anywhere in the world, remember? Choose by name? Wool Witches, Dances With Wool, Twisted Spinners. Clever, clever. I chose Team 52 Weeks of Sheep. They are based on a Facebook Group (public) and created a Facebook Group for the team (private.) Easy to make connections, and so much information about sheep!
Teams could have 25 members, tops. We had 11. Pretty sure we were all in the US, but I really only know where 3 of us were—and I’m one of the three. But we started connecting, sharing plans for what and how we’d spin. Spindles, wheels, e-spinners. And we started encouraging one another.
Because, you know, life happens. Illness, accidents, sick pets, equipment issues, work schedules. Best laid plans.
That week, I spun 1,410 yards of woolen yarn and made a skein of Art Yarn. I mainly used my bottom-whorl drop spindle, but at the very end I broke out my Scottish dealgan and tested how much I might be able to spin in the final 15 minutes before noon. (11 Yards, as it happens.) I didn’t waste time taking the last singles or plied yarn off the other spindles.
Five days to report yardage to your captain. Then the captains report the yardage. Then the teams wait for the results to be tabulated. Meanwhile, there are the two contests members can enter and vote on: Most Beautiful Skein and Wildest Art Yarn. I entered both.
And then more waiting. But at last the results came up. Most Beautiful Skein: there were five pages of beautiful yarns up for vote. No way I was getting that. But maybe Art Yarn, I had a chance. I mean I had handspun, scraps of dupioni silk, locks of wool, yarn that’s partly Chevy and partly a sheep he sired. Wild. Named it “Dragonspun.” Nope.
Well how did Team 52 Weeks do? I started to scroll down the results. Before the Team stats came results by method. Some spinners use spindles and wheels. Some use just one method.
First came “Highest Yardage on a Spindle.”
1st place: 2,945 yards. Well over a mile (1760)
2nd: 2,379 yards. Well over a mile. My best ever was a mile and a quarter.
3rd: 1,752 yards. Now we’re in my range. If only I’d filled my spindle a couple more times…
4th: 1,530 yards. If only I’d spun another hour…
And then: I realized there was a 5th place. And it was me! 1,410 yards for the honor of Team 52 Weeks of Sheep and a couple of cool fiber prizes. I wasn’t the high yardage spinner for my team, but I was the only one spinning exclusively on my drop spindles.
In that first week of October, spinners spun 1,794,813 yards. The top wheel spinner did 49,077 yards. The top e-spinner made 61,515 yards. Our team yardage was 10,732 yards. Over 30 teams, and we weren’t last! (Always my cherished position when running Fun Runs with various dogs.)
And we had a lot of fun. We shared, we supported, we learned how much we could create, as we spun together!
Thou shalt fly without wings
“Retirement home available for deserving gelding. Know a special guy at the end of his show career? You don’t really have the stall space, but you don’t want him to go just anywhere?”
I put that out on my vendor table at the Summer Classic Arabian Horse Show, Harlansburg Show Grounds, in 2004.Put it out to the universe that, after losing Max the year before, I was ready to look for another Arabian. (Was that the year we had a loose horse right outside the vendor tent, and I wondered whether she’d fit in my Civic Coupe? I always kept a halter and lead rope in my car, but in fact, all we vendors did was make sure she didn’t head toward the road while her owner came up with a can of grain and her halter.)
Just before Christmas, 2004, a woman called to say a horse had just come in to Henderson Equestrian in Butler, and they thought his situation was precarious due to his owner’s health. Was I interested in meeting him? A bay with a star.
Day after Christmas, the freezing cold arena at Henderson, and they walked him toward me. That big white star on his forehead shone like a beacon. His name was Cash. A 17-year old Polish Arabian. When he shed out, he had tiger-stripes on his front legs, a nickle-sized black body spot on his left side, and ermine spots on both hind heels. Three white socks, varying heights.
He was my gigolo—good looking, did nothing that might be called work, I paid all his bills. His manners were impeccable—no biting, never saw him kick, no stepping on me. An aristocrat of mixed Polish and Egyptian bloodlines, foaled at the end of the Arabian boom, and named Cashoggi after Adnan Kashoggi, the richest man in the world—who was later revealed to be an international arms dealer. Never shown, never shod, gelded at 8, possibly got his first under-saddle training at 16 or 17. He had heaves, from moldy hay, or a damp barn, and he could never have hay again.
Turned out, that wasn’t true. His heave trigger was not hay, but a mold that only blossomed in the fall. He dodged it for years, only having one flare-up that I can recall. He had “tick fever” twice, and colicked once, and got kicked in the ribs. His face went gray. When he was 32, he started showing symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome, and he was on daily meds for the rest of his days.
He wasn’t well started for riding. He was started late, and may not have had much time to learn to carry a rider. I was told he had learned to buck. He was anxious about having a person on his back. But on the ground, he trusted me. He was on the long line when a sapling started to fall beside the ring. I halted him, talked to him, dared not go near him because I knew he would bolt when the tree fell. He did, I dropped the line and let him go. He didn’t run away from me. He stayed on the circle around me. Scared, cantering, but listening to me. He came down to a trot, so I gave him an “Aaaaand walk.”—and he did! So I gave him a “Ho!”, and he stopped. I picked up the line, and walked toward him, folding up the line as I went. And told him what a good boy he was!
I didn’t care about riding him. I had less time, he was afraid of being ridden. I didn’t have to be on his back to enjoy being with him.
We used the ground poles to learn his prepositions: He could do “over”. Any horse can do that. And of course he could do “around.” But as an Arab, he could do “between” like nobody’s business We’d walk between two poles, turn tight around the end and walk between the next set. He was nimble—but I always had to tell him to pick his feet up when we came back into the stall! Every time.
His stall window looked into the chicken coop. And at the end, when he was in the small pasture where the other horses could not chase him, he hung out by the neighbor’s outdoor chicken coop. I went down to see him, and heard the hens singing quietly. Cash liked chickens. I’m so glad he had that!
He was 34 years, one day shy of 6 months when I got the call every horse owner dreads: 5:15 in the morning, from the barn. Something was wrong, I might want to come out. The vet confirmed what I already knew.
He went surrounded by those he had known for years, his vet, the farm owner, me. I stood where he could see me, and he pointed his ears at me, which horse people know means he was looking at me. All I could see was that big white star, shining in the early morning light.
Rest in Peace, Cash.
Writer of epic fantasy with a wry twist. Fond of horses, dogs, cats, canaries, falcons and draft cider. Dedicated multi-tasker, I also paint with chalk pastels.