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The Basics of Spinning

The basic method used to turn a loose, soft fibre into something that resembles a yarn, is to spin these fibres together. The Stó:lō, and more generally the people of the Northwest Coast, spin wool in two very distinct steps. The first step in making yarn is to make the roving . This is usually done after all of the fibre processing is completed, including the softening, dying and straightening of the fibre. To make the roving, the fibres must be rolled between the hand and thigh to twist and bunch the fibres together. This produces a very loosely wound and somewhat thick yarn that is then coiled into a ball, usually in a manner that allows the roving to unravel from the inside out during use.

Following the fibre processing of the raw material, the roving then undergoes the spinning process. This process involves the tight twisting of the fibres-reducing the likelihood of the fibres coming apart under the tension of the weaving process. Spinning ultimately requires the use of a straight length of wood, called a spindle, and of a weight similar to a flywheel, called a spindle whorl. A spindle whorl can vary in size from 13 to 30 centimetres in diameter, and the increase or decrease in size corresponds to the materials spun and methods used. The spindle whorl used by the Stó:lō in weaving has a longstanding decorative tradition that has been made famous through the carvings and bronzes of Susan Point, an internationally recognized Coast Salish artist.

A spindle whorl being prepared for use.


(73.4 KB)A spindle whorl being prepared for use.
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