Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

My Favourite Things

One of my yoga classes is fairly casual: people come and go, dropping by when they can, so there are new faces in every session.  Sarah, the instructor, always has us answer a question during our introductions.  Last session, we had to name our favourite singer.  I picked one among many, but the question made me think of what my favourite spinning tools might be.  The choice was clear-anything made by Ed Tabachek, spindle maker and master craftsman. 

Ed and his wife Jo-Anne are two of the nicest people you could meet and both are talented fibre people.  Jo-Anne is a master spinner who tests all of Ed's products.  If it has two ends, Jo-Anne can spin it.  Ed's spinning tools are things of beautiful simplicity, crafted with care and attention to function and detail.

I first saw a Tabachek spindle at a fibre conference in Alberta, over 20 years ago.  It was a simple toy wheel spindle, with engraved decoration and it cost me about $10 from a Manitoba vendor attending the conference.  Ed called these spindles "Chatterworks."  This pretty thing reawakened my love for spindles, a love which had been frustrated by boat anchors or spindles which were cute, but wildly unbalanced. 

At the next Alberta conference, another vendor had a new design by this spindle maker.  The whorl was made of ebonized oak.  It had a smooth finish and was small, with a short shaft.  I fell in love and bought one on the spot.  Once again, it spun beautifully and still does:

An early Tabachek spindle on the left, with the Chatterworks spindle at right

Shortly after that purchase, either I wrote to Ed to tell him how much I admired his work and he sent me one of his support spindle bowls to test or he contacted me through my work at a local arts centre, asking me to test a bowl.  One way or another, I became the proud owner of a lovely bowl which improved my supported spinning by leaps and bounds.  Over the years, I've collected a number of Ed's bowls, some of which you see here.  At top left is the original bowl with a bowl Ed designed to my specifications at its right.  Below those are two of Ed's classic bowl styles:

Somewhere along the way, I met Ed and Jo-Anne in person.  They would drop by the LYS where I work and teach to deliver a spindle order and to chat.  (Those spindles were prime stock and vanished as soon as the boxes containing them were opened.)  I'd be invited for a private viewing of new spindles and tools in their townhouse room at Olds Fibre Week.  Sometimes, there would be trips out to the back of their vehicle to make my selection for that year. 

Jo-Anne and Ed showed me a nifty trick for unwinding spindles using a clamp and a swivel hook.  Ed fixed my small weaving fork when it broke while I was working on a tapestry when we were hanging out in the Land Sciences cafeteria at Olds one year.  He took the time to explain exactly why the fork had snapped and then gently admonished me, "Next time, buy better tools."  Making and using the best tools for the job is a point of pride for Ed.

A selection of my Deluxe, Compact and Mini spindles

Two Tibetan spindles, a Russian and a bottom whorl spindle

From top left: a wraps per inch gauge, the winding tool, another wraps per inch gauge, orifice threader and a nostepinne

A Mini Tabachek in ebonized oak

I've parted with a few Tabachek spindles over the years, to people near and dear to me and once to a spinners' silent auction because I wanted new spinners to have the thrill of spinning on one of these wonderful tools.  I can let spindles go, most of the time, but not my Tabbies-they give new intensity to the meaning of "attachment."  I have a few out on loan, but only to trusted borrowers whose location I can track at any given moment.  The first ebonized oak spindle, along with my Tibetans, is a regular in my meditation practice sessions.

Sometimes, we never know the tool makers who add so much pleasure to our pursuits.  Often, even when we do know them, we forget to thank them for the joy they bring to our lives.  So, "thank you," Jo-Anne and "thanks," Ed, for the decades of beautiful simplicity your tools and advice have given me.



  1. I loved reading about Tabachek spindles. They're beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You're welcome. The pleasure is mine!

  3. I love my Tabacheks too!

    My word verification is bless. How fitting.