Social Distancing for the Modern Spinner

Suddenly spinning solo? Make the most of your online community.

Anne Merrow Mar 17, 2020 - 4 min read

Social Distancing for the Modern Spinner Primary Image

Photo by Nick Casale on Unsplash

In most fairy tales, handcrafts are something done in the shadows. For Sleeping Beauty in her tower, spinning was a danger that kept her locked away for years. For Rumpelstiltskin in his remote cottage, solitude hid his spinning and his mean magic.

For many of my friends who spin, a sudden isolation looks like the opportunity to spin some of our fiber stash and use up some yarn—the silver lining in the thunderstorm of social isolation. All of our “just in case” buying now has a case, and staying home gives us plenty of time to enjoy it.

In some ways, there has never been a better time to be stuck at home. Most days, I talk to my spinner friends online anyway: I have favorite groups on social media for each of my favorite crafts. Some have already suggested using hangouts or chats or Skype. Someone’s up at every hour on the internet. Online classes and ecommerce bring education and supplies right to the house.

Still, we can’t deny the drawbacks of social distancing: Stores, teachers, and events face devastating losses of income. Seeing friends in person and feeling their work with your own hands is a balm for the soul. The National Institutes of Health report that loneliness poses its own health risks, which are especially dangerous for older people—who are also most at risk from the pandemic.

When you are facing more solo spinning time than usual, keep in mind:

Use your digital connections to strengthen your bonds with friends, not obsessing over the latest coronavirus rumors.

I suspect we’ve all seen it: a forum or group chat that’s usually chatting about spinning or hiking or family news becomes a virtual room awash with anxiety-producing rumors. Avoid those rooms. Find (or start) a thread that commits to craft talk—there are plenty of places to get the latest virus news.

Remember your spinning friends who aren’t online friends.

Is there someone you usually sit next to in your spinning group who swore off social media years ago? A friend you only see in weaving class? It may take a little more effort than usual (especially for the phone-phobic among us!), but reach out to those friends who might be missing out on the online connection.

Look for ways to get together (but not too close together).

The recommendations I’ve read call for maintaining 6 feet of distance between people to avoid spreading the virus. Where I live, I can go out for a walk while maintaining that distance—and although Devin Helmen isn’t here to join me, I know he’d recommend going for a walk with a handspindle. As the weather warms up, take the opportunity to use your OUTSIDE VOICE and catch up with friends at arms’ length. (edited to add: Since this first appeared, some areas have put more stringent restrictions on leaving home. Follow the local laws and recommendations)

Reach out if the distance is getting to you.

If you’re used to getting social interaction in the course of your day, it may feel weird or unwelcoming to suddenly need to seek out the company of other humans. Do it anyway—maybe slowly at first. Browse through groups on Facebook, hashtags on Instagram, forums on Ravelry, or fiber-related podcasts, and see where you feel most at home. Decide how much you want to join in the conversation. You're not alone.

Reach out! Just make sure you leave some time for, you know, spinning.

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