Spinning in a Public Space: The County Fair

words and photos by: Olivia Resch

In a things-are-somewhat-back-to-normal-but-not-quite year, 2022 became not just a time to reacquaint myself with society, it also became a year to carve a new identity. In the spring of 2022, I turned that cardinal age of forty. Since the last years of my thirties were dominated by a Covid-frenzied world along with the primary caretaking of two young children in a time of community isolation, I was ready for new adventures. 


In the previous decade, I did not have leisure time to focus on creativity. At a time when I needed a creative outlet the most, when my kids were really little, I began to build one by learning to spin yarn and weave, and then . . . bam. Covid hit, schools were closed, and everyone was home all the time. Talk about a big blow to creativity. 


My spinning practice all but disappeared at the beginning of Covid. With a two-year-old and five-year-old at home full time, without the option of playdates or the park or museums or anything else we were used to, I felt stifled. My focus became keeping the kids entertained. My Ashford Traditional didn’t lend itself to being used around small children, so it was relegated to the garage. That’s when I picked up the spindle I had purchased online pre-Covid and then left in a drawer for months. I watched tutorials, learned how to use it, albeit clunky at first, and slowly but surely, I was spinning my own yarn. 


In the fall of 2021, I began taking an in-person spinning class. Part community, part camaraderie, part instruction, the class was everything I needed to further my spinning skills. For three hours a week, I had dedicated time and space to spin. I continued in the class through the spring, during which time the instructor asked for volunteers to spin at the San Diego County Fair. 


Spin yarn, at the fair, in front of an audience? Although an activity I had never done before, in keeping with the spirit of partaking in new adventures, I agreed. As it turned out, I was the only person to sign up for that day, so I was alone. On top of that, I was sitting on a stage in a busy building, using a wheel that was not my own. Despite that, I had a lot of fun stepping out of my comfort zone and spinning in a busy public space. 


Some people merely watched from near and far while others were more curious and asked questions. A group of young girls got close to the stage, and we had the following exchange: 


Girl 1: What are you making out of that? 

Me: Yarn! 

Girl 1: Is that wool? 

Me: Yes! 

Girl 2: That is impressive. 


Another fun exchange came from a young boy, about the age of my oldest daughter, seven at the time: “Why are you doing this here and not in a private space?” The honest, unedited questions from children can be worthy of a giggle. 


An older man asked, “Is that the way they used to do it?” Why yes, yes it is. Though not with this modern spinning wheel. (I was spinning on an Ashford Kiwi.) 


Another group of middle-school girls had a flurry of questions: How did you learn to do that? Is it hard? How long does it take? Why do you do it? To them, I emphasized the importance of finding a hobby you enjoy, and I find that spinning yarn is very enjoyable! 

Over the course of the two hours demonstrating spinning, many groups came by and watched, and I had the opportunity to speak to about fifty people. I enjoyed sharing my love and knowledge of spinning with others. Would I spin yarn again in a public place? Absolutely! 

Olivia Resch is a writer who loves spinning, weaving, and knitting and who calls San Diego, California home. She has two children and is working on projects to get children involved in the fiber arts. She teaches inkle weaving locally. Olivia’s adventures can be followed on Instagram @weftconnect. 

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