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The Wednesday Spinners: 36 great years at Common Ground!

2013 marks the 36th consecutive year that the Wednesday Spinners, a group of women from Downeast Maine, have been spinning together at the Common Ground Fair. Now in their 38th year of meeting every Wednesday, September through May, at a different spinner’s home each week, the Spinners—ranging in age from 15 to 80 and with more than 700 cumulative years of spinning among them—have planned another lively and informative weekend for fairgoers.

The story of the birth of the Wednesday Spinners is shrouded in the mists of time, but some recall it grew out of an invitation from Mascha Litten (following a 1975 flax workshop with Mary Chase) to “come spin at her house next Wednesday.” Mascha made a vat of soup for 20—and only Mollie Birdsall showed up! It didn’t take long for the group to grow, however, and soon we were filling livingrooms around Hancock and Washington counties with laughter and the whir of wheels. The soup pot continues to be a weekly tradition. The babies that were crawling around under our feet in those early years now have families of their own; and—as can be expected in a group with such a long history—we have lost several of our beloved spinners, including both Mollie and Mascha. We have been a rich source of many things for each other over the years: learning and teaching, celebrating in times of joy, and providing comfort in times of grief.

Active in MOFGA from its inception, Mollie and her husband Paul went to the first Common Ground Fair in Litchfield in 1977. Mollie came back convinced that we should be a part of the Fair the following year—and we’ve been here ever since! It’s been a deeply rewarding aspect of our life together as a spinning family. Here’s to many more Fairs to come!

At this year’s Fair, the Spinners will ply their trade at an array of wheels all three days of the Fair. In addition, fairgoers will have ongoing opportunities to learn about washing, picking, carding, spinning in the grease (spinning wool “right off the sheep”), and all other aspects of transforming animal fibers into yarn. The Spinners are always ready for spirited conversations and questions.

Friday morning events feature drop-spindling for all ages and making felt balls. Other events and talks during the weekend will include choosing the right fleece and preparing it for spinning; specialty spinning techniques; and dyeing with fresh indigo. Talks and activities will be take place at the Wednesday Spinners Tent or at the small speakers tent right outside the entrance to the adjacent Fleece Tent. Please see the schedule for details and times.

Once again this year, fairgoers will have the opportunity to weave on the garden loom, now a permanent fixture in the pocket park/dye garden right near the spinners tent. Susan Merrill of Weaving a Life, Brooksville, (donor of the loom, with her husband Richard) will be coordinating the activities. Weavers and would-be weavers of all ages are welcome to participate.

Finally, as in years past, the Wednesday Spinners invite all spinners—young and old, experienced and novice—to join us for an open spin on Sunday from 10 to 4 at the Wednesday Spinners tent. Bring your wheel or drop spindle and join in the centuries-old art of spinning together.


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