Wool Into Yarn

The Odd Tuesday Spinners


Chris Duffey

Jennie Van Heuit and Betsy Brazy are talking about spinning.

“Remember the time that ‘MotorKnits’ [the online nickname of a local knitter] came with the wool from the Icelandic sheep in Missouri, Betsy?” Van Heuit, 48, asks Brazy, 52.

“Yes I do, Jennie,” Brazy responds brightly.

Van Heuit shakes her head. “She was hoping we’d be a market for the wool ...”

“… but it’s too coarse,” Brazy continues the thought. “That churro is really for weaving, not knitting.”

“Right,” Van Heuit says. “I’m all for bringing back the native sheep, but you can’t knit with that horrible stuff.”

Heuit, a software engineer by day, and Brazy, a special education lawyer, are the founding members of the Odd Tuesday Spinners, a small group of local women who gather at Dewey’s Friends Café at the Alameda Free Library from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Tuesday of every month to spin raw wool into yarn; the day’s stress into peace; old-fashioned hobby into social support. “This is my community,” Van Heuit says. “These are the people I like to hang out with.”

The group, which is open to the public, began in June 2009 and usually attracts three or four women per session. Some attendees choose to just knit; those who spin bring small spinning wheels that can be folded up and transported easily, and they spend an hour or two spinning dyed wool, often from local dyers, into yarn. Their conversation is peppered with delightful textile words like “Andean plying,” “knitting jenny,” “knitty noddy” and “lazy Kate.” And they often attract curious children who want to see what’s going on. The adults, Van Heuit says, “are kind of shy asking about it. But kids will ask anything.”

Spinning is a long process. It can take several weeks (of very part-time spinning) to create enough yarn even for a pair of anklets. But the Odd Tuesday Spinners do it because it’s “very soothing to touch the wool,” Brazy says. “It’s peaceful. It’s like playing with hair.” Adds Van Heuit, “It’s not about producing yarn for me. It’s all about the process. Spinning is like meditation.

“Thank God for this group,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to spin without it."

Interested in being an Odd Tuesday Spinner? Drop by Dewey’s Friends Café on the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month, or join the spinning at the library forum on www.Ravelry.com.

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