text: Han Starnes

Hand-spinning is a beautiful skill that seems to be lost in time.  Before moving to Nashville, TN,  I lived in Wellington, New Zealand— a lovely place at the bottom of the world. There I joined a spinning guild, which included mostly woman who would gather every other week to spin wool into yarn and have a coffee and chat.  In the 1970s my group totaled over 250 members, but today there are only about 20, most of whom are of an older generation and who have been spinning their whole lives.

Hand-spinning is an amazing process especially for anyone interested in textiles.  It gives you the unique ability to shape the yarn however you desire. As a spinner, you have complete freedom to create the yarn you want. You can create yarn with thick or thin spots, you can loosely spin or even overspin it.  So many different options.  Wool is an especially neat hand-spinning fiber—like a glue, it will stick and form to itself.

At Josi Faye, I’ve loved incorporating hand-spinning into what we do.  When we begin designing a garment, we start with the yarn. We think about what sort of form we desire in the yarn, and then find the best shape to communicate this in the piece.  Naturally yarn making also brings you back to the farm.  More than in any other step, hand-spinning gives you a perspective into the quality of the wool and thus showcases the quality of the farming. In some of our pieces, we intentionally try to keep in little remnants of the farm in the yarn, like a little blade of grass or bit of hay to remind all of us where this wool came from. The yarn is also effected by other things like how the sheep are treated, the shearing process, the carding and preparing of the fiber. These are all important in the character of the yarn and the eventual beauty and story of the garment.

For more information, please visit www.josifaye.com.