Amy Ross Manko is here to kick off one of the biggest events of the year for spinners: Spinzilla!
What are your plans for the first full week of October? My plan, and the plans of 77 teams of up to 25 spinners each, is participation in a fun event called Spinzilla. Spinzilla is a week of spinning for fun, challenging yourself and friendly competition. Last year’s teams were made up of spinners representing fourteen countries from all over the world, who come together for this annual event to raise money to support The National Needlearts Association’s initiative to bring the fiber arts to youth through the Needle Arts Mentoring Program. Spinners of all levels celebrate the joy of spinning yarn by hand, support local small businesses and aim to “spin enough yarn to reach around the world,” according to the Spinzilla website. Spinning begins at 12:01am Monday, October 3rd and ends at 11:59pm on Sunday, October 9th in whatever time zone you are in. This week has traditionally been known as Spinning and Weaving Week, and Spinzilla is a great way to celebrate it!
This will be my fourth year on a Spinzilla team. Year one, I spun for a local yarn shop’s team and had no idea what I was doing as a new spinner. I made some yarn and had some fun, but didn’t really understand what I was doing (or why!) so I just kept spinning all week and felt pretty good about myself at the end of the week.
The second year, I joined Team KnitGirllls and spun my personal record of over 5000 yards in a week, and had a blast doing it, too. I was PUMPED and we were sure that we would win. At the end of the week when the final tallies were announced, we had lost to Team Fancy Tiger Crafts by about 800 yards of yarn. Literally one skein separated us from the first place team. We were devastated. We all felt we could have spun just one more braid and changed the outcome. We all vowed to increase our production by one braid for next year and try again. After all, it’s all in good fun and for a good cause, right?
The third year, Team KnitGirllls was determined to spin more than ever and finally win the coveted Golden Niddy Noddy (yes, that’s a thing… I’ve seen it and it’s MAGNIFICENT) for Leslie and Laura. We got to work spinning more yardage than ever and keeping our eyes on the prize! At the end of the week, I’d spun a new personal record: over 6000 yards of yarn. This HAD to be good enough for victory, right? Nope. Team Louet North America blew us completely out of the water with 271,607 yards! One of their team members spun over 48,000 yards herself. We finished in third place with just over 183,000 yards. This was definitely nothing to feel badly about, but nearly 90,000 yards less than the winner.
After that, I vowed that this year would be different. I’d remember what Spinzilla is all about and spin for fun and fellowship. No pressure. No numbers. No drive to win. I formed my own team here in our hometown and partnered with a local maker-space to host a registration party with a batt-making bar, spin-ins, wheel tune-up parties, “closing ceremonies” and a plan to just enjoy each other’s company and share our love of spinning with others. This is what I’d been missing most alone in my living room, binge-watching reality television and spinning away. This is what Spinzilla is all about: sharing our love of fiber with other fibery folk. Our team boasts both seasoned veterans and newbies, wheel spinners and spindlers and even a sixteen year old young woman!
Whether you spin “rogue” alone in your room, join a team (virtual or in real life) or watch from the sidelines, I can tell you one thing: Spinzilla is the most fun you’ll ever have making yarn and raising money to support the youth-mentoring programming of TNNA. Last year they raised $17,700 while spinning 5,246,497 yards of yarn.
Amy Ross Manko is the Chief Executive Farmer of The Ross Farm and with her husband, “Scooterpie the Shepherd Guy,” and their son, lives on a 170 acre sheep farm in Southwestern Pennsylvania that’s been in her family over 120 years and is on the National Register of Historic Places. They raise ten breeds of Heritage and Rare breed sheep and produce natural, breed-specific yarns and roving from the flock.