Arts and Entertainment

Weaving the sunshine

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Amelia Garripoli's hands always are moving.

She is a spinner and a weaver, and her hands usually are drawing wool as it spins into yarn or throwing the shuttle from one side to the other on one of her many looms as she weaves beautiful fabrics she turns into clothes for her family. She also knits as time permits.

Garripoli didn't always pursue activities our grandmothers or great-grandmothers might have enjoyed.

From silicon to spindles

Once she was a vice president of a computer company in Silicon Valley. That got to be too much and she and her family moved to Port Angeles in February 2001. That May she took a class in spinning wool. She started spinning with a spindle, a rod with a weight at the bottom or top and an attached length of yarn. She rolls the spindle against a leg to start it spinning and joins the wool with the starter yarn, then pulls or draws out some fiber from a bundle. As the fiber twists, it forms a single thread she can use to weave or ply to form yarn.

Wheels and writing

After she mastered spindles, Garripoli moved to spinning wheels.

She says she finds the

work peaceful and creative. She has several spinning wheels and dozens of spindles.

Garripoli enjoys giving classes in spindling and using spinning wheels. She has written a book in which she points out mistakes she made when she was learning and suggests ways to avoid them.

Weaving it together

The next logical step was weaving and Garripoli got a loom. Now she has several.

To weave, warp threads are tied to the front and back of a loom. The loom holds the threads taut. There are rods connected to eyed cords that each warp thread passes through. When some of these rods are raised, they lift their threads to form the pattern in the material. The space formed between the threads is called the shed, and a shuttle holding the weft threads is thrown through the shed. A batten pushes the newly woven threads against the forming cloth.

Some of her looms are manual and she raises the rods by hand to make the weave. Others have dobbys, like the punch cards computers used years ago. The dobby automatically moves the rods so all she has to do is throw the shuttle and pull the batten. There are automatic looms but she says they remove the peace and creativity from the process.

Passing it on

Watching the loom is almost hypnotic. Garripoli says her children love to observe and are learning to work with spindles and looms.

Garripoli is featured at a workshop April 10-11 at Oak Harbor High School on Whidbey Island on spinning sock yarn. To register, contact Garripoli at or 582-0697. Garripoli also teaches at A Dropped Stitch, 170 W. Bell St., Sequim. Call 683-1410 to ask about classes.

Reach Dana Casey at

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