Monday, February 1, 2010
(VMFA photos by Jeffrey W. Allison)
They say olfactory senses are the most powerful for memory. That was certainly the case when I entered the Pauley Center parlor on January 22 and smelled raw fleece. I majored in textiles in art school and spent several years after graduation teaching traditional textile arts. Spinning wool and flax on a variety of spinning wheels was a perennially popular practice.
I still learned a lot from the recent lecture by fiber artist Judith Towner of Clotho's Children Handspinners. She demonstrated fiber spinning techniques to an attentive crowd, mesmerizing us with exotic drop spindles from many cultures and with skeins of yarn spun from wool, cotton, flax, alpaca, angora and even Lhasa Apso. It’s easy to imagine spinning enough yarn for sweaters and blankets, but think about ship’s sails!
Judith mentioned the Fall Fiber Festival, which will be at James Madison’s Montpelier October 2-3. It’s a lovely day full of beautiful handspun yarn, every kind of weaving, spinning, and knitting demonstrations as well sheep shearing and the ever-popular sheep dog trials. They have various breeds of sheep on display and – of course – sell raw fleece, redolent with the natural lanolin which coats very fiber to make a sheep water resistant.
I’ve marked my calendar, yet again inspired by VMFA!
Suzanne Hall, Chief Communications Officer, VMFA