This evening I load up the car with baskets full of wool, both spun and unspun, some still in locks from sheep who once romped the Funny Farm pastures. I toss in some cotton and some flax. I don my thrown-together “Bible-era dress,” and drive off to a “vacation Bible school” to demonstrate drop-spindle spinning, as in Jesus’ earthly boyhood hometown of Nazareth.
It’s “just a hobby.” Who needs to drop-spindle spin in America’s Northeast today?
In a southwestern touristy area, Native American primitive spinning and weaving might help provide a livelihood. But elsewhere in the USA, even hand-spun yarns for sale come off spinning wheel bobbins, not drop spindle shafts. Drop-spindle yarns sell in Third World settings. People there also use hammers to break rocks into pieces, to pile by the roadside and sell. Who would do that for a hobby?
But drop spindle spinning has become a hobby in affluent America, much as it did in Italy centuries ago, among wealthy women who used ornate spindles as they sat and talked or contemplated life. Today I also see lovely ornate spindles in my high-tech world, have a friend who fashions beautiful stained glass ones. And I know a lot of people–women and men, girls and boys, who drop-spindle spin, as “just a hobby.” Why?
Why a Hobby?
It’s time to define hobby. Webster’s Unabridged Encyclopedic Dictionary says it’s “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.”
How refreshing, in our enterprise-driven, “fame-and-fortune” fixated world! And thus, a plausible reason why people drop-spin.
Once you get past the frustrations of learning either wheel or spindle spinning, a more relaxing, even soothing, activity is hard to find. Even people who sit with spinners at “work” feel life’s pressures ease, as they watch that wheel or spindle go round and round. The motion even calms careening children and lulls babes to sleep.
I know women (including myself) who in times of crisis, robbed of midnight slumber, head for their fiber stash and start spinning, just spinning, till their bodies untense and their minds let go the jumbled fears and tangled worries, as if they were lining up and straightening them out along with that fiber now turned yarn.
Just for Amateurs
The word “amateur” also comes to mind–in its original sense, rather than what it has come to imply today. Still defined first as “a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons” (i.e., as a “hobby”), by definition number three, that person gets considered “inexperienced” or “unskilled..”
Yet even God is an Amateur, as this blog post so beautifully points out, discussing the book by the same name. Who can approach His workmanship? Yet what He created was done for love and enjoyment. How sad if we lose that kind of motivation, and do every endeavor for Mammon, or deadly dull duty!
We never know, either, how God might use our amateur pursuits. I certainly didn’t with this one!
So. Enjoy a hobby today!