In the hills of southeastern Ohio near Senecaville and Lore City, a group of locals gather to spin their yarn and their tales. Quite often you’ll hear them telling stories of a particular time in history as they spin their yarn for weaving.
Members of Ohio Hills Spinners & Weavers Guild are a friendly and happy group, eager to share knowledge about their hobby, which many have pursued for over twenty years. The items they create are beautiful as a result of their artistic abilities.
For members, meetings bring total relaxation as it takes their mind off any troubles while they sit and spin or knit. They find it fascinating that they can “make something from nothing”. Imagine starting with a sheep in the field and ending up with a sweater.
Most of the wool comes from the sheep on the farm of Sally Mehler. Sometimes they use alpaca wool from a neighboring farm as well. This local wool then progresses through the steps of washing, picking, and carding, before it’s spun into yarn. Then often it’s dyed.
Everyone has their own touch when it comes to spinning and weaving. Some prefer a traditional spinning wheel, while others try a more modern touch. A few of the members have an electronic spinner, Hansen miniSpinner, which eases the tension on their hands and most likely produces a more even yarn.
It’s a great feeling to take the wool and spin it into yarn so it can either be woven or knit into something special. It’s not difficult. Take a section of wool and start spinning from one end on a spinning wheel. Pull little snippets of the wool roving back as the twists of fiber start around the bobbin’s original yarn. The bobbin fills up with the newly formed yarn.
Members carefully choose the type of wool used especially in garments. Merino wool claims to be the softest wool in the world. The merino sheep raised in Australia and New Zealand give us most of the wool used in the United States. If wool makes you itch, you’ve got the wrong kind of wool. “That kind should have been a rug on the floor.”
These spinners insist that the more you do, the smoother the yarn. But it’s done from the heart, as one spinner commented, “You don’t get enough in sales to pay for the spinning.” That doesn’t count for all the time spent afterwards creating beautiful items. But it’s still worth-while as people enjoy what they make, while they’re relaxing.
Newcomers will be first taught to spin and then encouraged to move forward with using that yarn to create something they can use. The first thing they learn to knit is usually a basic dish cloth. As they progress, more difficult patterns are introduced.
Shortly, they’re spinning the yarn, then knitting gloves, hats, socks, sweaters and even rugs. This creative process makes people want to return again and again. The woolen items they make will keep a person warm even during wet weather.
Others enjoy rug twining. Three layers of fabric are braided together to form a sturdy rug for use inside or out. It takes a couple of weeks to complete a rug and then they’re usually given away. One rug maker doesn’t even have one of his own…and people are waiting for the next one to be finished.
This group meets the second Thursday of every month at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Lore City. They can also be found displaying their methods and products at many area events during the year. One week they might make mittens or perhaps use Kool-Aid for dying. There’s always an interesting project happening.
Homespun yarn won’t be perfect, but one of the spinners remarked with a smile, ” If you wanted perfect, you would go buy your yarn at the fabric shop!”
Comments on: "Spinners & Weavers in the Ohio Hills" (4)
Thank you for this informative article on these great people. Good to see Bill S. and miss Rose Ann R, Keeping the old arts and crafts alive is so important.
We are so lucky to have such talented people in our area. They really enjoy what they do.
I can see where this would be relaxing. It’s probably good for your blood pressure too, eh?
The weavers seemed to find it very calming. Great for the blood pressure and would certainly give a feeling of peace and pride in accomplishment.