Rita Buchanan - a woman of parts

Nov 13, 2015 - 3 min read

Rita Buchanan - a woman of parts Primary Image

Patsy Zawistoski explores how eco-friendly materials like banana plants can create great fiber for spinning

I've known Rita Buchanan for many, many years, and she's always surprised me. There was the Peace Corps time working on water projects in Africa. The year in southwestern Colorado, growing and living off native plants.  The acknowledgment in her splendid book, A Weaver's Garden, to her "tireless research assistant, Fred P. Boot" (who was, in fact, one of her fuzzy house slippers, and who no doubt saw her through authorship of A Dyer's Garden as well).  More recently, after many years as a garden and horticulture editor, there has been her transformation of a corner of northwest Connecticut into a landscaper's dream and a spinner's haven.

In between, Rita provided a bedrock of information and wise guidance for Spin·Off, and was a must—have mentor at SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) for many years. True to her life philosophy, she is "moving forward"—no longer teaching or writing, but still exploring fiber in great depth and now dipping into watercolor illustration.  What next?

A world of surprises in digital format

Rita has graciously agreed to let us issue the articles and columns she wrote for Spin·Off  in the 1980s and 1990s as a series of  digital e-books. The first collection, A Closer Look, includes all the in-depth articles she wrote under that title. Re-reading them, I'm still surprised.

  • Surprised by her dissection of the mechanics of ball-winder balls, and why they so often give me fits. Now I know.
  • Surprised by the limits of gauge in forecasting the qualities of a knitted fabric.
  • Surprised by her vehement rejection of the conventional woolen/worsted drafting terminology, and how much I agree with her common-sense view.

Oh, there's more.  The 25 pages of this collection contain more spinning insight and useable information than you would think likely.

Happily, there will be more to come.