Spinning and Weaving Week

Recycled Baskets
Judith Saunders, of Virginia and North Carolina, organizes a weaving challenge among her basketry students. They recycle junk mail and magazines by weaving baskets and sculptural forms from the paper strips. Each project is woven independently during Spinning and Weaving Week. Shown here are baskets from 2012. Credit Handweavers Guild of America

This week is National Spinning and Weaving Week.  In the United States, the first full week in October is set aside for textile enthusiasts to share their love of weaving and spinning with their communities.  Many find unique ways to inspire others to think about textile traditions in new ways.  Judith Saunders gives her basketry student students an annual challenge to create woven baskets from junk mail.

A Gyotaku flounder print helps teach students about the fish’s anatomy. Credit: Smithsonian Institute

If you are interested in exploring the breadth of textile traditions, browse the Textile Techniques column in WARP’s quarterly newsletter written by Deborah Brandon. Back issues are are available online.  In the Winter 2004 issues, you will  learn about Gyotaku or Japanese fish printing that was first used over 100 years ago by fisherman to record their catch.  Fish prints were emblazoned on rice paper or silk cloth.  Today it is a popular art form. The Smithsonian uses this method to teach kids about fish anatomy and introduce them to block printing, an often used textile technique.

In the Summer 2012 issue, we learn that some textiles have highly ritualized and ceremonial purposes.  Sikkes are the tall felted hats worn by Whirling Dervishes to accentuate the tilting of the head as they twirl.  According to Brandon, “The hat, similar to a tall version of a fez, is approximately two feet high and has a slightly flattened top. Traditional sikkes were made from the hair of a yearling camel, but now sheep’s wool or mohair are more commonly used.”  Wouldn’t it be fun to all make our own version of the sikkes and give them a whirl?

Celebrating textiles reaches far beyond this one week. In November, weavers of the Americas and beyond will gather in Cusco, Peru for Tinkuy to learn from one another.  The gathering includes seminars in product design, sustainability, and marketing for weavers indigenous to the Americas and their guests, plus hands-on workshops for the textile enthusiast.  The grand parade of weavers up the Avenida del Sol will be a site to see! Many WARP members are attending. If you go send us a postcard—real or virtual—we will be reporting back after the event.

Happy Spinning and Weaving Week!