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Anniversary

It’s hard to believe, but five years ago today is the date on the WHOIS record for abbysyarns.com. In other words, today we are five.

Dude, we’ve come a long way. Baby. I was going to make this a blog post full of recaps, like “Hey, here, look at this old post,” and be all “Best of the First Five Years” or whatever. But instead… I’m gonna tell you a story, and then ask you a question.

Five years and four months ago, I left behind my computer career. You see, here’s the thing. I grew up with self-employed parents and I knew how hard that was. When I struck out on my own as a young adult, I worked with self-employed musicians. I waited tables. I temped in offices. I did… you know, whatever, for a living. Nothing you could really call a career.

But long about 1992, as things happened, there I was at this short-term contract editorial assistant gig that I had, and I could fix the computer problems and make things go, and the geek in me just went to town on that concept. And before I knew it I’d gotten an offer for an actual job. You know, one with a salary and health insurance and a 401k and sick days and vacation days, and a cubicle with my name on a nameplate.

I had scoffed at the idea of wanting such a thing, once upon a time… but then, there I was, a young wife in my early twenties, with goals and dreams and all kinds of things like that. And when I was offered the princely sum of $27,500 a year plus benefits, dude, the truth is I was all over that. Plus! Imagine! If I was sick? I could take a sick day. And instead of not getting paid, that was… you know, part of the deal. And I would get a paycheck like clockwork. Just for troubleshooting and making computers do things. Easy work, interesting work, work with a future and a growth path. I would have been crazy not to do it.

It worked out pretty well for me for a while. I was pretty decent at it, and it was in-demand work. It was rewarding. My involvement in that field outlasted that marriage, even. I kept progressing, learning new things, doing new stuff, earning better wages. It was a good and rewarding career. I met a new fella. We had a kid. And that’s when things changed for me professionally.

Part of it was certainly because of choices I made, like the one to seek out some sort of telecommuting option that would let me work a regular job, doing computer stuff, from home, while taking care of the new baby. I made a lot of compromises to score a gig like that, and I made it work. It wasn’t easy, but, whatever, I pulled it off. Still though, even after several years and with a toddler in preschool and me in the office all the time, I’d been mommy tracked. My career growth stalled entirely. There are a ton of complex reasons for this as I see it, but it’s not relevant to the whole picture I’m trying to paint, except in that it serves to illustrate where I was: a decade and change into a career I had loved and for which I’d been very hopeful, but that ultimately was just not panning out.

Thing is, I could hardly say it wasn’t panning out at all, given that I made a nice salary and had great benefits and all of that sort of thing. No way in hell could I look a waitress or a musician or a freelance writer in the eye and say “Yeah but it sucks having a dependable paycheck and health insurance and honest to God sick days, plus I never seem to be able to find a way to use up my vacation time, and I can’t get promoted or do interesting things or even apparently find a new job someplace else.”

So I stuck it out, even though every day I’d get up in the morning and literally cry in the bathroom because I had to go to my depressing dead-end job that shouldn’t have been a dead end but was. I would sit in my cubicle performing data drudgery I’d agreed to handle on a temporary basis years before, growing more and more depressed about the meaninglessness of it, watching fresh-faced young males straight out of college get hired and be assigned the projects I’d been told I would be working on if I just emptied the bitbucket for a couple more months. Year in, year out.

God, I shudder in reflection to think that it was really almost five years I spent trying to either turn that job around for me or find a new one. But it was a dot-com slump in 2001 when I started that process. And I no longer fit the twentysomething geekgirl image that had existed for me to fall right into in the 1990s. I was thirtysomething and somebody’s mom. Dude, everyone knows moms are the mortal enemy of the geek. Duh.

A lot was hard about that timeframe; for instance, my father came down with cancer and died a few weeks after his 59th birthday. That sucked. My job sucking made that suck more, and vice versa, and then the overall suck level just kept going up. And up. And up. And by the time three or four years had gone on like that, the only way that I withstood it all was by getting to the end of my work day and investing time in yarn-related projects. The textile pursuits had always been there, but it was never something I intended to make a career. It hadn’t been enough of a living for my parents, and let me tell you, that’s saying something, because my parents were field anthropologists and everybody knows that’s not a living at all.

So people — well-meaning — would say things like “You should see if you can’t do something with yarn and make a living that way.” Which when you’re living in Silicon Valley in the 2000s, well, it’s frankly laughable. The same people would then say things like “I mean I’d probably pay $50 for that sweater you’re wearing right now,” when that’s, you know, an hour of their time staffing a help desk and asking a caller if the caps lock key is on. No, making a living as a fiber person was just… not possible. I was pretty sure of that.

But at the same time, people would ask me to teach them stuff. You know, yarn-related things. And I wanted to do that. If there were only some way to make that work. I mean there was no chance living on Silicon Valley where if you were lucky you could rent a one-bedroom apartment for around a grand. And I had responsibilities. So no. And I couldn’t do it on the side, this yarn teaching thing, because there were too many schedule conflicts and just… no time.

But eventually, in early 2006, we decided to move. I quit that job. You heard me. I quit it. And I didn’t look for a new job. Instead, I became — for the first time in my adult life — totally dependent on my partner’s income, while trying to figure out a way to squeeze a living out of knowing a lot of stuff about yarn and yarn-related pursuits. It was a crazy idea. But five years ago today, I launched abbysyarns.com.

I can’t say it feels like five years. But then again maybe I just don’t know what five years feels like.

Five years ago, I sold handspun yarn and spinning fiber on eBay, as a short-term quick solution. I started gathering up things I had written about yarn, and getting them in some sort of shape to put online. I considered opening a brick and mortar yarn store. I ruled that out on the grounds that it was unlikely I could make that generate take-home revenue in 5 years or less, and that it would tie me down such that it would be hard to travel and teach. So I made stuff to sell, and I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, and tried to picture how this could all work out to be a living.

Since then, I’ve written all kinds of stuff for publication. I’ve developed products that people like and that work as products. I’ve taught… I’ve taught a lot of people, in a lot of places. I wrote a book. I made some DVDs. And somehow, with perseverance and determination I suppose, here I am at the five year mark, and I’m making a living. I don’t have sick days; I don’t have a 401k. I don’t get paid time off or vacation. I don’t accrue seniority. I can’t count on raises for doing my job well. I don’t have my own health insurance. I don’t get regular paychecks.

But let me tell you the really important “I don’ts.” I don’t get depressed as hell knowing that it doesn’t matter what I do today, or tomorrow, or the day after that, with no hope of change in the future. I don’t get angry and frustrated because my boss strung me along. I don’t worry that I’ll be laid off or downsized or office-politicked to destitution and ruin.

And perhaps most important of all is this: since I have made the leap of faith to do this yarn thing, not a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone who says “Hey, thank you — I learned this from you, and it makes a difference.”

No. Thank YOU. I couldn’t do it without you. It’s been hard work, and I’m proud, but if it weren’t for all of you, I wouldn’t be here today doing this.

So if you’ve read this far, I’d like to know: do you have a favourite post or posts from the past 5 years? Something you’ve saved or referred to? Something that really interested you? Or was it a class, or an article elsewhere, or something like that? If so, I would love to hear which it is. Because suddenly I look back at five years and think, wow, how did I get here?

That’s right; I’m leaving you with a song.

53 thoughts on “Anniversary

  1. I’m kind of new here, so I don’t have any favorite posts to recall, but can I still say how much I LOVED this post? First off because you write exactly like you speak, and I get a huge kick out of that. But also because I can SO relate. I, too, sit in the corner of my bathtub every morning sniveling because I’m too depressed to wash my hair and go to work. I sit in my cubicle and dream of making things with my hands instead of pecking at the keyboard with them. (Or read knitting blogs instead of working, like right now haha)
    Thanks for teaching me to spin. Thanks for the inspiration. Thanks for being you!

  2. Happy anniversary, Abby! What a leap that was, and aren’t we all glad you made it. I can’t think of any individual writings, but what comes back to me over and over again is your talk about how textiles enabled/gave rise to/drove us to our current levels of civilization. Respect the textiles, dude!

  3. Happy Anniversary!
    The classes I took with you at the Trading Post. That was the major turning point for me and my spinning. Lots of things clicked in both classes, it was amazing.
    Thank you!

  4. Your post just made me grin a goofy grin – you have come a long way baby! Thanks for everything you do.

  5. Happy 5th Anniversary, Abby! I had read some of your articles before but the hands-down reference one was Choosing Your First Spinning Wheel. I pored over it when trying to set up a Wee Peggy & then when trying to decide if I should buy the Wee Peggy (I did) & then gave the link to every one of the First Wheel Questions on Ravelry that didn’t already have it posted. I loved your story, and can’t tell you how much reading it inspires me. I’ve just quit my own dead-end job that once held such hope and am straining to see profit margins in what I love. You’ve been a huge part in showing me that it’s important to be ace at, and joining in at Stringtopia was the Best Time Ever!

  6. I don’t have a singular “favourite” post. Each one has been a joy to read for the information and the wonderful style you have of conveying knowledge. You’ve raised the awareness of this craft from a cute little hobby to one with street cred. I cannot ever think of a time where I won’t be spinning, knitting or weaving. It’s a part of my life and you helped cement that for me. Thank you.

    Please come to SAFF in 2012. We will keep you supplied with beer, food and fun.

  7. Happy anniversary! I think one of my favorite posts from you was the one showing how to spin from a batt. It didn’t just teach me how to spin a batt, it also gave me that little push I needed to be a bit more fearless with my spinning — to just go for it and not worry about ruining anything.

  8. I devoured your site and articles when I got serious about wanting to spin (which was spurred partly from childhood experience with my mother’s wheel, and partly from the desire to get into dyeing fiber and wanting to know that my product was decent).

    Your article about spinning wheels was very informational, and led me to my Lendrum (although I should have taken your advice and MADE a trip to try out a bunch happen….I’m having ‘greener on the other side of the fence’ thoughts!)

    Your articles on pricing handspun are ones I refer people to all the time….and I am always, always thanked and a good discussion follows.

    Abby, I am very glad you made the scary plunge. You are a wealth of information, and an inspiration that life is what you make it. I hope our paths cross many times in this crazy tangled up world of fiber!!

  9. Hey girl, happy 5th and i as well don’t have just one favorite. All of your posts have helped me and I go back to regularly for my spinning. Being only 5 hours away maybe one day I can meet your awesomeness in person

  10. You still have some socks coming from me. You’ve been a big influence on me, and so have your groupies. <3

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this story. It’s inspiring and wonderful … it is hard to take leaps to reinvent yourself in new ways for your changing life situations but it can be so worth it and I think that this is a terrific example of that!

  12. My favorite writing of yours did not appear on this blog, it appeared on Ravelry, and was all about how different spinning wheels are like different cars. The analogy worked so well and made things so clear to me when I had never been near a working wheel IRL. And right after that, you enabled me right into buying my first wheel on eBay.

    Happy anniversary, Abby! I can say with total certainty that I would not be spinning today if not for that, and I knew hardly anything about you then. I know so much more now and have met you very briefly. Every time I read something you write I am inspired, enlightened, laughing my head off, kr all three at once. Thanks for everything you have shared and continue to share with the fiber community, every day. And I can’t wait for Rhinebeck!

  13. Heyya, Abby—

    Three+ years ago I showed you a manila folder I had with me at the Spinning Loft class you were teaching. I’d printed off a sizable chunk of your blog posts and had them in that folder.

    Well…three years on and I still have that folder and it’s fatter now than it was then.

    A single favorite post? Please! They’re ALL my favorites.

    So…keep on writing, and if you ever add a PayPal button on here, I’ll use it.

    Greg

  14. Hi Abby, my dad died from multiple myeloma just as I was beginning to weave with the intent of earning an income through weaving and I have followed much the same career ‘track’ as you have done. It’s not easy. But it is so satisfying. While it is frustrating – at times – it is a decision that I don’t regret. Yes, there are some things I would do differently, but over all it’s been a life with compensations that go far beyond a regular paycheck. Thank you for sharing your journey. I met your dad at a couple of conferences and enjoyed his enthusiam for all things fibre. I am sure he is very proud of you.
    cheers,
    Laura

  15. You were responsible for my “lightbulb” moment, when, after discovering that physical problems made it impossible to use a wheel, I saw one of your postings on RAV about using a spindle and realized I CAN SPIN!! I spent several days going back through your blog, reading everything before I bought my first spindle.

    Now you are my Encyclopedia Abby. Whenever I can’t figure something out, or want to do something new I go to Abby’s book/blog/DVD/YouTube/Stringtopia/Rhinebeck. Being married to a composer (no salary, 401K, unemployment, insurance, etc) I am always impressed when someone launches out on their own – and grateful. I’m not sure people with “real” jobs are any better off these days, but I am sure few of them have changed as many lives for the better as you have. Happy 5th, and many returns.

  16. The post I go to the most is the Choosing a Wheel one. I copy that link at least once a week, and usually I get thanked for the amazing reference and Agree(sixbillionty). But the turning point for me feeling like a spinner and knowing what I was doing was one time when we were talking and you just out of the blue gave me a compliment about my knowledge of spinning and how I handle it.

    Sarah

  17. I look back to that class with you at SOAR in the Poconos, my first SOAR, your first time as a teacher at SOAR. I knew before then – and I don’t know why or how – that you were exactly the kind of competent, badass, no-fools-suffered-here-TYVM teacher that I wanted, for lots of reasons beyond just learning how to spin. In my gray, quiet cubicle farm at work (and I love my work, btw), you can tell my cube because there is a very (VERY) loud, polyester Chinese quilt with stuffed scorpions and spiders and such on the wall. And a fuzzy purple spider hanging from the ceiling. And a blue-and-yellow striped woven plastic rug in the corridor outside my cube. Oddly, my colleagues’ cubes are not like that. Yes, you know textiles, yes, you’re a good teacher, yes, yes, yes – but really, what I take from you is how high my standards should be. …cranes head way back… That high, eh? OK, I’m working on it. Thanks, Abby!

  18. My favorite post is the Waylaka post.

  19. Oh, I think my favorite, hands down, was Stringtopia. I can only hope that it becomes an annual event that I will gladly attend! Thank you sooooo much for everything, and I hope you have decades more to share your knowledge with us.

  20. I wouldn’t be on my way to becoming a spinner right now without your YouTube videos. I read some things, and watched some other videos, and when I found yours, there was one particular thing you did that changed my life. (It was the one thing that was clearly too obvious to every other spinner out there making a YouTube video to bother explaining.) You let some slack into your freshly spun yarn, allowed it to kink up on itself, and said, “it is supposed to do this,” before winding it on. I said, “Oh.” I started spinning. A few days later, I read Choosing Your First Spinning Wheel about thirty times in succession. Then you taught me one-handed long draw at the Trading Post, and I remember literally squealing, “Abby, look! I’m doing it!” I was so excited I totally forgot that I was in complete awe of you and admiring you from afar.

    And Stringtopia. Duh.

    Happy Anniversary, Abby. We love you dearly. Sometimes we react to you with a kind of worshipful admiration. Sometimes we find ourselves quoting you in conversation the same way one would quote B5 or Firefly. Sometimes we devise elaborate schemes in our minds for new and creative ways to bask in your presence. (We… all… do this, right? Right?)

    You are so badass.

  21. Abby, I have not yet spun any fiber but I have watched your dvd’s and read a lot of your blogs. I bought the books and read them with great pleasure. I know one day I will have the courage to actually DO it and when I do, it will be down to you. In the meantime, every word you have written and every dvd of yours that I watch entertains and informs me greatly. Congratulations on having the courage to make it work. I am really glad you did and I am obviously not alone in that. Respect the Spindle, and greatly respect the teacher.

  22. Heya Abby,

    Happy anniversary!
    I’m so happy you wrote this post, for me it ranks among all your best(est) posts ever just because of where I am and where I’m hopefully heading 🙂

    Love from Sweden,

    Ingrid

  23. I am very new to spinning, and am so inspired by you!! I love Respect The Spindle- having read it multiple times, watched your YouTube videos over and over, and am waiting for my dvds to arrive!! I have recently found your blog, and am still reading previous posts. But beyond your incredible wealth of knowledge and skill that you so freely (and happily) share, I really love your archives about Peru, it’s history, culture, and your lifestyle there. It gives substance and background to the art and craft of spinning, weaving, and yarn making. In all your posts, I really enjoy your perspectives, insights, and honesty about it all. You have brought to life entire cultures, histories, and lifestyles that had previously been a history book/museum interest, and personalized them. An architect by trade, and a knitter by obsession, spinning and fibers are a new extension to my obsession. As part of my profession, I spend days on end working out details and making design decisions that most will never even consider, yet seamlessly adapt into their lives as they occupy our spaces. Histories, cultures, technological developments, as well as remembering where it all comes from are all things relevant to our current lives. So, I soooooo appreciate that you have tied it all together in sharing your philosophies, skills and knowledge. Please continue to do so- and so glad that you took the plunge to share it all with all of us!!! Here’s to Friday beer o’clock, when I can spin!!

  24. Happy anniversary! I haven’t been reading here long enough to have a favorite post, but I would like to tell you how much I love your book Respect The Spindle. That book was so important to me in validating my love of spindles (which isn’t to say that I don’t like my wheels a lot, but…), not only for what they can do, but for their connection to a whole history of people, spinning throughout their days. I went to Peru this summer, and thanks to what you’ve written about Peruvian spinners and spinning, I was brave enough to talk to some women about their spinning – I even came home with a spindle (or two or three) for myself. 🙂 Thank you!!

  25. I’ll better write in Spanish as I know you’re bilingual and I can make myself understood better if it’s in my mother tongue!
    Gracias a tí!! Por tener tantos conocimientos sobre el mundo de la lana y el hilado, y además haberlos compartido; por ser parte de la fuente de inspiración (e información) que me decidió a meterme en el mundo del hilado; gracias por aquel video de youtube que mire unas 100 veces para ser capaz de usar mi huso… en fin, gracias por haber tenido la genial idea de decidir que sí que podías ganarte la vida con esto!
    No tengo un post favorito, tengo muchos! Desde los pensados para principiantes, hasta las indicaciones para usar un drum carder, hacer rolags…y sobretodo aquellos en los que explicas tradiciones o información sobre el téxtil que de otro modo no hubiese tenido acceso!
    Desde España, muchas gracias!

  26. Your generosity and willingness to share your knowledge and experience is way above and beyond….everything. I am a new spinner, thanks to you. Your videos, your book and video (RTS), your humor, your honesty have all given me the courage to forge ahead, My history (path only not talent) is similar to yours. In the 90’s I left a high-paying corporate (high tech) job with all of the trimmings to buy a yarn store. yup. It was fabulous, if poorly timed. After a great 7 years, my health along with the market fell out from under me at the same time. I don’t regret a minute of it. I am so glad my fibery journey led me to you eventually. Thank you so very much!

  27. I can’t think of a specific post (except for the one on choosing a wheel), but I can say that your writings and videos about spindles have been my lodestones, and spinning AbbyBatts have been solid plesures ! Congratulations on 5 years!!

  28. After 40 years of knitting I taught myself to spin with a handspindle by watching your you tube video again and again and again. Now I own a wheel and I´m preparing my family for the thought that maby I need a drum carder, too?
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for getting me started. It was you that gave me that last push to just try it and oh, you have given me countless hours of joy when I spin ! XOX from Germany

  29. The post about.. “How to pick a first spinning wheel”… I have read and reread it several times… thanks so much for all your hard work… to helped me so much…

  30. Abby, I keep your book Respect the Spindle by my bedside. I have read it so many times I could not tell even estimate. I have watched your DVD of the same title many times as well. You have been, and continue to be, an inspiration and motivator. Although I spin a lot on the wheel, I also have (many) handspindles and I do take one with me almost everywhere even hiking. As for my favorite…anything you write. Write more. It will be consumed. Best wishes and congratulations. SDFA

  31. I so envy what you have done in leaving that job behind. Congratulations from afar on your 5 yrs. I have your DVDs and what a great help it was to get started on spinning and drafting. I refer back to them whenever I need a refresher. Keep up the wonderful work; it’s appreciated.

  32. you said it so perfectly~my life mirrored back to me (with a few different details). thank you so much. and congratulations on living an authentic life of deliberate intent. I try everyday.

  33. Dear Abby!
    A few years ago when I got the urge to learn to spin, I stumbled upon your blog. I’ve read every letter before I ordered my first spindle, and gone back and read again before ordering my wheel… and sometimes I just pick an article and read it again.
    At that time in my country there was noone I could find who knew anything about spinning, much less anyone, who spun or would have been willing to teach… I watched your videos again and again, until I got the hang of it, and when I could’nt make the wheel thing go for me it didn’t even bother me, thinking of what you said about spindles (since thanks to youra dvise on choosing a wheel I got one that works for me)…
    Since that a few of us worked hard to make spinning popular in this part of the world again, and if ever so slowly, but we do succed…

    My favourite article was the one where you talked about to “dare to be a beginner”, which I quote quite frequently when someone is ready to throw away teh spindle because the first try is not perfect…
    The other one is the Waylaka…

    But then again, all of the writings are full of informations and my favorites.
    Without you there would be a lot less spinners.

    Thank you!
    Anett

  34. Dear Abby,
    I am one of your new spindle spinners and I am so glad you do what you do. Without you I might not be here, I hope to see you again in Grayslake and thank you with a spun and finished object, INSPIRED BY MY TIME WITH YOU.
    Debi

  35. Your Waylaka post was one of the few sanity saving moments in my horrible (and now fortunately over) experience of being a stepmother. I learned I wasn’t necessarily wrong in my expectations or in how I communicated, both with children and adults. I just live in the wrong place and time. I’ve read it several times, and each time I see something new.

    Thank you for that one. It was life changing.

  36. Congratulations on five years and I hope there are many more to come. You taught me to spin. I might have given up in frustration after buying a spinning kit and not being able to follow the technique shown on the dvd that came with it. In frustration I started searching online and found your blog and read every post and found your youtube videos and am officially hooked on spinning. I love your book and videos and hope you continue to publish content for those of us not lucky enough to learn from you in person.

  37. I’m a bit late to the party, but I wanted to share anyway. You are a huge part of why I got into spinning, and like so many other people, it’s become a hobby that’s just as much about the relaxation as it is the end product. When I first started, your YouTube videos gave me a chance to see someone spindling and kept my spindles in the air instead of on the ground. While wheel shopping, I found your article on choosing a spinning wheel really helpful. And beyond your website, when you gave a talk in Connecticut a couple of years ago, it galvanized my hobby and got me to learning about the history and evolution of spinning. I think I even went up and thank you afterwards for being such a great online teacher. Thanks again and best wishes!

  38. (belated) happy blogiversary!

    while i’ve loved reading all of your blog entries, i think the posts i keep going back to are the technique ones. your post on spinning from the fold made it possible for me to do it for the first time (i’d tried before and failed). but mostly, i appreciate you–your generosity in sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. thank you for all you do.

  39. The entry you wrote called “Ghosts” about flying to Peru is one of the most moving pieces of literature I have ever read. It touched on my fear that this civilization, based on such different principals and weaving, could disappear just the way the languages and cultures of our Native peoples are disappearing. We have been so busy trying to get them to adapt to our world view that we have not bothered to learn theirs. If such cultures ceases to exist, our world is poorer in possibilities. Our “gene pool” of the ways of being is reduced with every culture lost.

  40. Your YouTube videos, for sure. They made all the difference to me when I was first starting out, with no one nearby to teach me on my schedule. (yes, there are spin-ins where I live, but none of them start at 9pm after my children are in bed.)

    Also, I just have to tell you that the coolest wedding I ever went to, we danced to Once in a Lifetime.

  41. Happy 5th Anniversary Abby.
    I have enjoyed so many of your posts and learned so much from them. Amongst my favourites, are the ones about your family of wheels and which wheels you would take with you if you had to evacuate quickly. I look forward to reading many more wonderful and inspiring posts.
    Kendra L

  42. I really love reading about your childhood in Peru, but my favorite article of yours is the free Spin-Off one that compares spinning yarn to cooking food. Whenever someone asks me *how* spinning your own yarn could possibly be important in today’s world, I point them there. And a few people get it. 🙂

  43. Now here is my story and a question.
    Quite a few years ago I had a workshop with your father where we learned several fabulous Peruvian techniques. We wove narrow bands on backstrap looms. I was entranced and always remember his stories of finding textiles so numerous and so complex that he only had time to concentrate on the most unusual ones, of how cloth was the currency of ancient Peru, of textiles so intricate that he had not yet fathomed their construction.
    Later I came to know Martha Stanley and her amazing ability to analyze ancient textiles and techniques–scaffold weaving, Anasazi sandals, four selvedge rugs. I was at her house at about the time your father died. We were all devastated. It was from her that I learned about you and your childhood in Peru.
    And then recently you resurfaced. I have watched your videos, read your book, and occasionally poked around on line to see what I can learn from you. Quite a bit, I find.
    In 2007 I went to Guatemala for the WARP annual meeting. Deborah Chandler took us to villages where we met weavers whose work eclipsed anything I knew, and they used only a few sticks of wood, not thousand dollar looms. There I met and became friends with Karen Piegorsch who has developed an ergonomic bench for backstrap weavers. Subsequently I have become part of her Synergo Arts nonprofit team. I had hoped to be able to go to Peru for the gathering last year but circumstances prevented it.
    And then I met Laverne Waddington and her backstrap work.
    I continue to spin and am now exploring backstrap weaving–especially pebble weave on a backstrap loom Karen sent me that she purchased in the market at Chichicastenango in 2002. Recently I pulled out the partially woven bands I started so many years ago with your father at my side. I gaze at them with awe and wonder if I can figure out again what I learned then.
    I too am a geek and currently maintain websites for nonprofits. Like you, I am entangled in the web of the past and the thread of the future. Applause for you for following the road less traveled and following your heart.
    What next?

  44. This is the first time I’ve read your blog…….but Happy Anniversary and congratulations on getting out.
    I waited until I retired to do all the fibre things I wanted to try,happily that was at 55, now life is a ball.My husband and I can do what we want when we want,it’s brill !

  45. Wow, Abby. I loved reading your job story in a nutshell. Makes me feel my positive about my own twisty, turny trail in pursuit of job happiness and adventures. And I wish that I’d spent my 5 years in a different part of Peru than Lima. I might have fumbled over some spindlers that were willing to make me run through the hills while spinning my spindle, instead of finding people who were doing their best to ditch their fibery heritage.

    Thanks again for this post. Loved it.

  46. Hi!

    Happy Anniversary! I think I started reading your blog way back during the first version of it, maybe a year into it…? I love your stories on Peru, and I even shared your post about how textiles made civilization possible with security guards at my former job. These are my favorites.

    I also come back here frequently for technical references – such as your pricing yarns post. This is the third or fourth time I’ve ‘visited’ to read that post again, and I will be quoting you during a panel discussion on pricing hand made items at our next guild meeting. Your depth and breadth of knowledge is mind blowing, and someday I hope to take a workshop with you.

    Thank you for sharing so freely here!

  47. That is awesome, Abby. I was one of those twentysomething geek girls in the late 90’s and burnt out when laid off by a 2nd company in 2001 so I feel ya on that front. I can’t wait to see you in December when you come to do the workshop in SLO. 🙂

  48. Congrats and best wishes on your five-year anniversary! Your YouTube videos have been so helpful, I have and love your book and DVDs too. And the stories about you growing up with your parents in South America, fascinating! Thanks for taking that leap (for all of “us”), you’ve been a wonderful teacher and inspiration already (and I haven’t even had the chance to meet you in person yet! Ha ha ha). Cheers!

  49. I have these two bookmarked: A First Look at Something Huge from Jan. 2008, and Waylaka. That’s when I clued in, Jan.2008, having just recently read a posthumously published article by your father about Nilda. I can’t express coherently what you’ve given me, but it’s sort of mentioned in my latest blog post. All I can say is if the chance comes up to go to Peru with you, I’m GOING. Time spent with people like you is worth more to me than any amount of higher education (until we get the UTT established, that is – the University of Textile Technology.)
    Congratulations, you stellar woman.

  50. Bravery ingnites the engines of great performances…your fiber “performances” have given energies to many an inquisitive…”fiber-eee mind”. =)
    Congrats on the 5 year anniversary…Thanks for all the “performances”! The fiber world will never be the same. =)

    hugZ,
    annie
    aka rubyslipperz

  51. I am in your old position right now. i am so jealous of you but i cant mean harm because everything you say on rav is helpful, you vids on you tube are brilliant.

    Keep it up – it def helps the newbie and I wish you all the luck in the world!!

    xxx

  52. I don’t think there is a single thing (meaning only one) that you have written that has not clarified an idea, a thought or a question in the fiber related world. When I read through the spinning board on ravelry and come across a particularly clear and concise thought, it’s always you. I’ve been a long time admirer (I bought Respect the Spindle for one of my girls). You are always thoughtful and kind to people who ask questions and are generous in your praise of others and their talents.

    I think you are wonderful at what you do. I am a social worker and while my depression at work is not to the level yours reached, there are days when I dream of a fiber related career.

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