Article published in French Newspaper Est Republicain, Sept. 15, 2006 on the Francophone Spinners' Retreat.
They were perhaps a dozen women who traveled to the farm of Marylene Durant of Horizon Mohair last weekend. They came from various regions of France, as well as of Belgium, Switzerland, and even the United States. All came with one goal: to talk about spinning.
“When one says knitting, spinning or wool, that seems a little old-fashioned, even obsolete, viewed from the outside,” explained Marylene. In reality, it is quite far from Tupperware parties. All in high spirits, they mix communication and spinning with ease.
It all started a year ago. Sandrine decided to create her own forum on the Internet. “Spinning and computers are my two passions,” she explained. Twelve months later, the site counts about 60 members. Mostly women, they are looking for information of all kinds: How to start, what spinning wheel to use, for what type of wool.
With many members exchanging photos and advice, some felt it was time to plan for a meeting. But for that, they needed to find a suitable date and a fitting location. Sandrine, who lives in Varennes, knew well of Marylene’s farm. The meeting was to be in the country, among angora goats. The original plan and nothing less.
“What brings us together is the passion for fibers and the satisfaction of creating a product from scratch,” according to Laurence, a plastic arts professor. That is to say from the shearing of the sheep to the sweater and everything in-between: washing, dyeing, spinning and knitting.
“We want to give another image of spinners. Today, we use new techniques, modern dyes, we create novelty yarns with materials like lurex,” said Sandrine. For that purpose, each brought her wheel, be it classic, traditional or modern.
Such motley of spinning equipment had to be exceptional. “There’s hardly any left in France. I import mine from Poland,” added Sandrine. The creation of her internet site allowed her to acquire more easily the tools and materials necessary for their activity.
But this weekend, it is above all a matter of sharing, though from various perspectives: Florence, from Belgium, is the only one who raises sheep for fleece; Laurence, from France, loves to play with color et texture; Therese, from the US, buys Indian charkhas – these little spinning boxes introduced by Gandhi – and then sends them to Africa.
So many reasons for the same activity. Hands extending the wool which progressively wraps itself around the bobbin: “It has a hypnotic side to it. The mind wanders off and time is forgotten,” confided Florence.
Thrilled, these women of this modern era are already thinking of the future and their next meeting. Perhaps, in Maryland in May for the wool festival. Therese has extended the invitation. They only need to answer. “We would very much like to,” sighed Laurence.