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The Tie That Binds: Spinning Competition Continues

Doña Maxima, Paza’s community organizer, prepares fiber for Spinning Week.
Doña Maxima, Paza’s community organizer, prepares fiber for Spinning Week.

Spinning competitions are old, very old. I’m not sure when the first competition occurred, but my guess is it was not long after we started spinning fiber into yarn. Humans like to test their mettle against other humans, and spinners are no exception. Textile competitions, formal and informal, are regular features during fall harvest festivals, both past and present.

Before the industrial revolution, almost everyone had a passing acquaintance with the spinning wheel, spindle, and loom. This connection was broken in many parts of the world as industrialization took over. Still, spinners and weavers carried on and making yarn and cloth by hand that is part of an unbroken cultural legacy and an important source of income.

One example is the Quechua spinners and weavers in modern-day Bolivia, who organize themselves as PAZA today.  When they heard about Spinzilla*, a competition sponsored by the Spinning and Weaving Group of The National NeedleArts Association, they were eager to test their mettle against spinners worldwide.

As one of the instigators of Spinzilla, working with this team was a highlight for me. (This, and Ms. Plack’s fifth grade class.) Dorinda, PAZA’s U.S. contact, reached out to let me know they are continuing on with the competition on their own and expanding the event, bringing back an informal competition that existed in childhood.  With prizes of petticoats and cardigans on the line, competition is sure to be fierce. To host the event, they have to do a bit of fundraising. I’m happy to boost this signal by putting out the word.

Support the Spinners

Learn more about PAZA’s plans on their website at

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Donate via PayPal. Any amount is welcomed and appreciated.
  2. Purchase woven goods that provide cashflow for the spinners and weavers. Inquires may be made by contacting Dorinda Dutcher, You can see the weavings here,
  3. Boost the signal and share their story.

Heddles Up!


*TNNA announced last week that they are suspending Spinzilla. It is is no longer sustainable under the current structure. Spinzilla was started as an educational/promotional project of the Spinning and Weaving Group (SWG) of TNA to encourage budding spinners to get over their fear of learning to spin by having an excuse to jump in and do a lot of it, as well as supporting local yarn shops by engaging a worldwide audience online.

Edit to add: Since I wrote this post, a new spinning competition has emerged called Spin Together.

Liz Gipson Widgets
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