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(image source:  http://www.pbase.com/taboo5/calvin_coolidge_homestead_plymouth_notch_vt_private_album)

This morning I was sitting by that window between the two large doors, spinning (at times) Icelandic wool and (at other times) mohair on two of my favorite drop spindles.  Our spinning group was demonstrating our share of  long-ago-stuff to tourists at the Calvin Coolidge Historical Site, his homestead, where he was in fact born 140 years ago today.  There was also a parade and a chicken barbecue, but I think people were very interested in what we were doing, too.  The other women brought their wheels and serious, pointy, blood-drawing fiber prep tools.  If I had a wheel I would never use it; it would have coats piled on top of it.  But because I’m surrounded by all these little spindles, I’ve been spinning every single day since I learned in 2010.

The wool and mohair were both local (the sheep owner I actually know), and undyed.  I enjoy spinning all kinds of things, any color, any fiber, I’ll try it all.  But at these historical things people tend to ask if the wool is local, and if it is, are they your sheep? and if they are, well, but did you raise them from lambs?  And if the fiber is any unnatural color, you did dye it yourself, didn’t you? and with natural plant dyes, of course? that you planted and harvested yourself?  It’s not possible to be authentic enough for some people.

We show people how the spinning wheel is essentially a spindle on its side, driven by foot power, assisted by angular momentum.  The spindle isn’t the original string-making method, of course; I roll a bit of wool on my thigh until it turns into something like yarn:  behold, the incredible artificial vine, or sinew substitute.  A spindle is a machine too.

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