A Story of a Boy, Two Women, A Man and a Spinning Wheel

(This yarn is spun from actual circumstances and events)

A boy of about 7 years old crouches in a window well, shivering and afraid. He peeks out at the cold gray cobblestone street of a European village in about the mid-1400’s. He is in fear for his life. Suddenly he hears an army of boots running his direction and he curls up even smaller in an effort to hide from what he knows is coming. The boots get louder as they near him. He stays small and quiet, frozen in his fright. Even his breath has stopped. Moments later, yet what seemed an eternity to him, the boots pass by and start to get quieter as they move away in the opposite direction. Relief comes over the little boy as he begins to realize he did not get caught.

Caught? Yes, the army of men in boots were chasing after him. He is so very hungry, and although he knows it is wrong, he stole a loaf of bread. Sadly, he dropped the loaf and lost it in the chase and now he is even more exhausted and hungry. Just as he thinks he might curl up and go to sleep in the window-well shelter he crawled into, he hears a fierce dog. He looks up and out of his hiding spot and sees a vicious barking dog glaring down at him, teeth bared. His scent has betrayed him, he has been discovered.

The boy is dragged out of his hole and taken to the stocks in the center of town. For several days he is the “laughing stock” of the village, locked up within a wooden structure within which his head and hands were captured and immobilized. He is beginning to fade in and out of consciousness as the community taunts him and throws raw and rotten eggs in his face. The stench is sickening but, perhaps licking the small amount of protein from his lips is the only thing that is keeping him alive. He continues to cling to a life that has been so very cruel to him, leaving him orphaned and on the streets, self-sufficient and alone.

The poor boy is no longer able to hold himself up and his head hangs in the stocks, the coarse wood rubbing his skinny neck raw and bleeding. He is not sure he can continue any longer. The thought of being hungry is no longer even a concern. Just as he is ready for it all to end a beautiful horse drawn carriage pulls out through a gate near him, and he wonders if this is heaven. There are whispers in the crowd. Apparently the woman in the carriage is the owner of the estate from which he stole the loaf of bread. They are wondering what punishment she will bestow upon him. She steps down from the carriage and walks toward the boy in the stocks. She demands to know who put him there and why. Within a moment she demands the boy be released and taken to the nurse within her home. The boy collapses in relief, and yet so very close to death the outcome is not certain.

Days later the boy opens his eyes again to see the nurse sponging the wounds on his neck and bandaging them with herbs and tinctures. The nurse runs to get the woman head of the household to come and see that he is alive. The woman holds his hand and thanks him for coming to save her! What? The boy is so confused. She saved him, didn’t she? She explains that he is the answer to her prayer. For many years she has asked for a child, and yet circumstances left her barren and then later without a husband. He is the child she has been waiting for.

The boy grows plump and healthy, he loves to play outdoors in her lovely orchard and help grow vegetables and herbs with the nurse and gardeners. He loves to do all that he can to help his adoptive mother. He is especially captivated by the textile studio and loves to spend time spinning yarns and weaving linen, wool and silken cloths. This is where he truly feels at home. This is where he releases the tension of his past traumas and spins them into health and beauty. He grows old in that home and lives to care for the woman in her old age. He truly did come to save her, as she did him.

….fast forward to around the year 2011…

A woman nearing 50 is suffering from a “pain in the neck”. She has been diagnosed by the doctors of her day with hyperthyroidism from nodules on her thyroid. She works for several years to resolve the health issues and exhaustion by combining the prescribed solutions (irradiation of her thyroid and thyroid meds.) with herbs and essential oils. Progress is made and yet, she still doesn’t feel quite right. There is an energy component that she can’t quite get to the source of. She has always had health issues in the throat area. At 7 years old she had her tonsils out due to a recurring and severe case of tonsillitis. And even though they had been removed, as she neared her adulthood at 18 she again ended up sick for several weeks and in the hospital with a severe sore throat and high fevers. Throughout her life, sore throats and losing her voice would always show up just as she struggled to express her creative talents or her autonomy. She didn’t really realize that pattern until recently as she thumbed through her old journals and started to see how it had re-occurred over time.

One evening as the soft ache in her throat got her attention she again wondered about that pattern. What was that energy pattern in her neck and where did it come from? So, she went out to her hot tub (time machine, as she laughingly calls it) and decided to reflect on that question and request some guidance from the stars. Going deep into meditation she found herself journeying back to a time and place beyond her earthly history. That is when she was shown the story of the little starving orphan boy who stole the loaf of bread, and the life of comfort he grew to live and love with his adoptive mother.

She could relate so much to the boy, the pain caused in his neck in the stockade, as though he lived within her. She could understand how he processed his trauma in the textile studio, She could understand why she was so passionate about learning to knit as a young child at about the same time she suffered from her tonsillitis (and the taunts and teasing of her older brother). She knew why she turned to her passion for fiber arts throughout her life to resolve and deal with challenging issues that arose.

Close to seven more years passed and as the thyroid healed she made some life changes to slow down a bit, find some balance. As a part of that life balance she made an effort to go back to connecting with her art as more of a therapeutic process for herself. Building a business around teaching and selling her art had led to burnout, always striving to produce enough to sell and filling up her teaching calendar to the maximum. It was time to take a step back and reassess her life.

As part of this stepping back and slowing down she felt inspired to buy a used spinning wheel just to learn something new and fun. This was something she had always been curious about, but had never had the time or money to pursue. Her intention was to utilize it for a moving meditation practice. At first it was a struggle. Not at all the meditation and relaxation she had hoped for. But several YouTube videos later and with some of her inborn patience she was soon spinning out of control! A friend of hers who also spins yarn mentioned to her that the “fiber tells you what it wants to be”. She loved that thought. As she spun and meditated the stories that the yarn wanted to tell started coming through loud and clear. She would sit down with an intention to hold a prayer and/or seek an answer to an issue, and soon she would have insight to the solution (a spin-solution!) The fibers represented the past; the traumas, the trials and the triumphs. As she drafted the fibers together she held them in a loose “hug”, they came together through the orifice of the wheel and wound onto the bobbin in beautiful skeins which held her prayers of potential and peaceful resolution.

Her passion for spinning continued to grow over the next year and as she created more and more “yarns” she learned more and gained much knowledge. This led to her exploring wheels that allowed for more of what she was trying to create. Some spinning wheels have larger bobbins, faster ratios, larger orifices, double or single treadles, and on and on. She was able to purchase used wheels at pretty reasonable prices and soon found herself looking to purchase her third wheel! She was able to acquire a “King Bee” by Spinolution (sounds like an abbreviation for spin-solution!) from a male spinner. A gay Social Worker employed with the Department of Children and Families for his State Department, he left a safe and balanced (comfortable with his masculine and feminine selves) impression in the initial phone conversation leading to the coordination and meeting to sell his spinning wheel. She would never purchase an item from a stranger over the internet if she didn’t get that vibe. The agreed upon meeting location was a public coffee shop where they soon struck up conversation about their spinning and love of fiber. He shared that although he had only had this wheel for a bit over a year, purchased new, he was selling it in order to upgrade to a faster wheel that would produce a yarn with less “spring” and “energy” as he also liked to weave and firmer yarn would work better on the loom. She was relieved that there was nothing wrong with this wheel and as she like a bouncy, “energetic” yarn for knitting this would be just right. He also shared that with his job he traveled a lot and this wheel was perfect for folding up and traveling with. She could imagine that with his line of work a lot of tension could be released in the evenings through his spinning. He mentioned too that he had ADHD and spinning allowed him to keep his body moving which helped him to focus his mind. She could also understand and relate to that!

King Bee by SpinolutionAs she spent her first full day of spinning she sensed a much different energy from this wheel than her previous two. (Yes, they all have a different personality!) She sat down with the intention of reflecting upon the 16-hour weekend workshop she had just attended. The workshop with about twenty other women was focused on community building as a path to resolving racial inequalities and violence. She had bought this wheel because of the double treadle, and because of the rocking motion that allowed and the balanced use of both sides of her body she found it very soothing. She began spinning the soft medium brown Shetland wool that the man she had bought the wheel from had included in the sale. The fine single-ply was more even and consistent than she had been able to accomplish before. Was it the wool? Or the wheel? Or the woman?

One of the issues that had been brought to her attention in the weekend workshop was that black and brown boys are being jailed and/or killed to “protect” white communities. This took the veil off an illusion for her. If she truly wanted to be a part of a large and diverse community that appreciated and protected all of the members, like the woman in the story of the starving little boy, she needed to find within herself a voice that would stand up against that, to say loud and clear that she did not want that abuse to continue “in her name”.

As she spun her soft brown wool that day, getting familiar with the energy of this new wheel she realized she was getting yet another piece of the larger answer for her. She had also been reflecting on the “mask” she wears. What does she need to reveal about her true self. What does she keep hidden and why? Her answer was that she hides behind the mask of self-sufficiency. Like the little boy in the story she attempts to do it all alone. Yes, she is married and has family, but to ask even them for assistance or for help opens her up to too much that is out of her control. Asking makes her too vulnerable and open to rejection, ridicule or taunting (laughing stock!) So, she carries the weight of doing everything on her own. If she does reach out and get assistance from others she wonders if she will pass on the accolades and recognition to someone else if the effort is a success. Will she get the credit she deserves for the idea, the work and the creation? She realizes this was the downfall of her previous business. She was not able to allow herself to hire help or ask for assistance when the load was too great. She was destined to fail with that modus operandi. She knows the boy needed the help of others. She knows she must also be open and vulnerable enough to recognize when she needs help and have faith that she will find the safe and trusting community (if she helps to build it) that she can rely and depend upon when it is needed. She also realizes that like the story the woman and the boy save each other, and that her community needs her skills as much as she needs theirs.

She realizes that now is the time to spin a new story that breaks apart the old illusions and allows the chaos and the masks to fall. Now is the time to build a community that will pull together, unite and protect all of the members, aware that this is what will save us all. She knows that now is the time to become aware that what heals the boy’s abuse is also what heals the women’s suffering and relieve the man’s stress and will heal the trauma response of the entire world.

She knows that now is the time to realize that she is an important character in this story.

Because…

She is me and this is my beautiful yarn that is holding my prayers of potential and peaceful resolution.

Hand spun merino and silk artyarn by Pamela Penney