Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


I have a whack of spindles (and a few spinning wheels).  They're all over the place--in my fibre room, around the house, in bags, baskets, at work.  I can justify spindle ownership easily-they're useful, beautiful tools.  Spindles hold memories, of conferences we attended, spinning circles we enjoyed, people that we met.  I use spindles for teaching purposes.  No one in my household has ever gone hungry or cold because of my spindle purchases.  (I could argue the opposite-spindles and teaching people to spin has provided me with a source of income for many years.)  Practising what gives us and others joy can only bring good to the world.

And yet.  While I was dusting and sorting through my spindle stash-and it's never a good sign when I feel the urge to tidy-I came across one of the first spindles I used.  It's a heavy spindle, crafted by an unknown maker.  It didn't spin well thirty years ago and it doesn't spin much better for me now.

And yet.  Rediscovering this spindle took me back to a time when all spinning discoveries were new, to a time when owning just one spindle gave me endless possibilities.  Now I own many spindles and while I use most of them, finding new challenges has become more difficult.  This isn't because the challenges aren't there; rather, it's because I've become attached to my spindles, to my fibre stash, to my way of spinning.

Buddhism teaches us that the source of suffering is attachment.  If we learn to let go of our habits, our constant want, while practising compassion for all things, we will be released from suffering.  I believe that a little attachment isn't such a bad thing, suffering or not.  We have to live in this world.  A degree of attachment to our bodies, to our families, to our communities encourages us to care for ourselves and others.  Attachment can help us develop compassion. 

Attachment is harmful when it blocks our path and becomes a distraction away from what is happening now.

That's where I am with my spindle collection.  I have so many that I'm distracted by the effort of choosing the right spindle to use with a particular fibre.  There are bits of yarn on that spindle, some tucked away over there, underneath a pile of fleece, projects that have been parked on spindles for years.  I have multiple bobbin yarn ends from spinning on my wheels.  I'm overwhelmed and suffering from a serious case of attachment.

I've cleaned out my spindles.  I sold a few, set some aside for an upcoming silent auction, gave several to students and friends.  I've taken myself off spindle waiting lists.  (Well, not the wait list for a Bosworth "Moosie."  Non-attachment only goes so far.)

To break the attachment cycle, I've set myself a challenge.  All through April, I will spin using only one spindle from my stash, using fibres from my stash.  (That includes the banana fibre sent by a fellow Raveller yesterday.  Hey, it's not April yet!)  Since I've been foolish enough to announce this publicly, in several places, I'll have to follow through.  I hope.

This could be interesting.  I've spent the last two weeks trying to pick the perfect challenge spindle.  I haven't found one yet.  If I'm discovered under a pile of fleece and spindles, muttering "Not this, not this," you'll know what happened.

Yup, attachment.


  1. I am very attached to most of my fiber tools. If I don't love something, I destash. However the money from the destashed item usually gets spent on a new fiber tool so I'm far away from the Buddhist ideal.

  2. I think you're doing better than I am. I tend to keep everything "just in case." It's tough for me to part with anything! I don't think there is a Buddhist ideal--just a journey.