Catawba County Employee Spotlight

Jennifer Tuttle

Jennifer Tuttle

Department:  Public Health
Spinning Wool  

Tell us about spinning wool.  What do you like about it?  Where do you get your wool?  What do you do with the wool once it has been spun?  

I love spinning for the joy of making something useful with my hands, as well as it being therapeutic.  I have a stressful job and often find myself taking work home with me and then my brain cannot rest.  If I sit and spin for 10 or 15 minutes, the motion requires me to focus on the coordination of my hands and feet and concurrently I am able to relax my mind.  The bonus is the end product of yarn and knowing that I made it with my hands.  
I try to source my wool from local farms in the county, as well as a few surrounding counties that have larger sheep and alpaca farms.  Being in Catawba County, I am fortunate to be close to Hendersonville and every October they host a large fiber festival.  I often attend and purchase either a raw fleece to process or washed wool ready to spin. Once spun, the wool is ready for me to either knit, crochet or weave into clothing.  
   
How did you get started spinning wool?  What inspired you to start?

I began spinning about 14 years ago when I was visiting a festival in Asheville and saw a demonstration.  I was mesmerized by the entire process and thought it looked easy, because the hand and wheel flow is so rhythmic.  I was very wrong!  I soon discovered the flow is a learned muscle memory and once you hit that rhythm the relaxation sets in and it is a great stress relief.  

I taught myself to spin with the aid of books and videos, since I was never able to find any other spinners in my area to glean information from or study.  I found the history of spinning and fiber arts fascinating and continued to practice to see if I could make useful yarn out of a sheep fleece.  It was rewarding to go from a raw fleece to a beautiful yarn.  I have since taught others to spin, either with a wheel or a drop spindle.  Spinning is a dying art and I would leave for others to learn this skill to keep it alive.

Any fun or interesting stories you’d like to share about spinning wool?   

For several years I attended a women's retreat in Michigan and would take my traveling wheel with me as a carry on.  This wheel is small, folds flat and fits in a special back pack for travel.  It never failed that I was always stopped and searched by TSA to and from Michigan and asked to please explain this "thing" that was in the backpack.  I thought everyone had seen a spinning wheel in some form at least once in their life, but I was wrong.  I soon learned to begin the explanation with the story of Rapunzel and the wheel and found that helped shorten my TSA issues.