By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — Just like chocolate milk doesn't come from brown cows, hot pink wool doesn't come from hot pink alpacas.
"It's probably going to end up in a shawl," said Log Cabin Fiber Arts member Annemarie Wright of Coeur d'Alene as she spun the bright dyed alpaca wool into yarn on her New Zealand Majacraft spinning wheel.
"I wanted it to go from hot pink to black," she said. "I ended up in purple, but I think I'll leave it with purple and do another hot pink to black."
A colorful array of fabrics and wools were crocheted, knitted and spun Saturday during the third annual St. Distaff's Day Spin In at the Lutheran Church of the Master in Coeur d'Alene.
Event co-organizers and Log Cabin Fiber Arts members Teri Hamilton and Jody Gehlker explained that the "saint" of St. Distaff is actually not a real person, but very long-running play with the word "distaff," which is an old term for a stick or spindle used for spinning wool or flax.
"He is the patron saint of spinners," Hamilton said. "It’s a medieval myth, it’s kind of like a joke."
"They’d take a break during Christmas time," Gehlker said. "The spinners were always women, and the weavers were men, and they’d start again in the new year. They’d start their work, but the women would have to do their work first so there was yarn for the weavers to weave with, so the weavers would play jokes on the spinners, like pranks, and that’s how it sort of started."
The St. Distaff Spin In also serves as a first event of the year for local spinners and fiber artists who have been on a break through the winter.
"Most of us have been very busy during the holidays making gifts, hosting parties or dealing with family," Hamilton said. "Because of that, we don’t get to be with our comrades, and it’s just a time for us to have some good healthy fellowship."
At least 50 attendees enjoyed a potluck meal and time socializing with other fiber enthusiasts as they worked on their wheels, drop spindles and baskets filled with projects.
Laurie Lietz of Latah gave Mary Ann Stoll of Coeur d'Alene a few pointers as she tried her hand at spinning. Stoll said she already enjoys crocheting and working with fibers, but wanted to give spinning a try.
"I’ve never spun before. This is the first instance sitting at a spinning wheel trying to have control," she said. "It was harder than I expected it to be."
Gehlker, a retired nurse, said spinning is relaxing and becomes more fulfilling the more she improves.
"It’s wonderful to create something concrete that you can hold in your hand," she said. "To see your accomplishments, I enjoy that. I enjoy to see that I’m getting better as a spinner and I’m improving. And I love to make things for other people. I make a lot of baby blankets and I like thinking about the baby it’s going to and the family that’s growing. I put good feelings into what I make, so I usually make gifts."
Log Cabin Fiber Arts, in association with the Northwest Regional Spinners Association, will present the 29th annual Spin-In and Fiber Fest from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds on March 16. The free event will include demonstrations, vendors and opportunities to make new friends.
For more information: LogCabinFiberArts@gmail.com