Thanksgiving is traditionally a celebration of family in the United States and Canada, but since moving across the country in my twenties, I've always loved Friendsgiving. The last week in November is a time when I'm grateful for my family-by-choice as well as the family I grew up in.
When a group of spinners gathered at SOAR in September, several people mentioned that during lockdown, they had sorely missed the friends they saw only once a year at conferences or events—the connections formed and nurtured in a particular time and place, even if they weren't day-to-day friends. It got me thinking: Who are your fiber friends? (Join me in humming the Muppets classic "Who Are the People in your Neighborhood?")
The Festival Friend
Is there someone you love running into even though you only see them at big sheep and wool festivals? Or do you have someone you always carpool to fiber events with? These are the folks it might be easiest to lose track of, if you only see them once a year or so, but they may be connected with some of your happiest craft-life memories. Special types of festival friend include the sheep-to-shawl friend, who works by your side to finish a project faster than the other guys—may have a competitive streak, but this is someone you trust to have your back; the wool judging friend, who helps you scope out the best fleeces and snap them up first; and the friend with a car, who helps you schlep it all home (and whom you'd better still like after a long, exhausting day when there are still hours to drive home).
Related to the festival friend but not exactly the same is the enabler friend, who spots a great deal or unique find and helps you feel OK about buying the thing you really want.
The Challenging Friend
By challenging, I don't mean a euphemism for difficult—I mean the friend who helps you get better, teaches you something, or convinces you to stretch your skills. Handwoven editor Susan E. Horton is the very special friend who helps you warp; she came over three times to help me put a warp on my loom and even resleyed my reed when she discovered a mistake. Laura Hulslander invited some friends over to learn to wash dirty fleece on her patio. She'd previously taught some of these friends to spin, making her the friend who makes new spinners and the friend who helps with messy projects (related to the friend you dye with).
The Online Friend
These friends have been a lifeline over the past 18 months, and some friends from other areas of our lives now fall into this category. The person whose posts you enjoy on Facebook or Ravelry but don't know "in real life," the person you sit next to sometimes at guild or knit night but bond with on Facebook, the great Instagram account you chat with in the comments—all of these are related to my very first class of fiber friends, the blog friend. I first became a spinner because it looked cool on a blog I admired; I've only met Rachael Herron in person 3 times (one of those at her wedding!), but she had a profound influence on my life and career! She's written several books about knitting, spinning, and other fiber pursuits, which makes her...
The Fiber Professional Friend
At first you might not think you have fiber professional friends, though the yarn store owner friend or shepherd who sells her fleeces friend or the indie dyer friend or the spinning teacher friend all fall into these categories. Some of these can be friendly faces in a booth and personal friends later, but don't discount how deeply meaningful the connections can be from both sides. One of the most special elements of the fiber world is how genuine the feeling in even pure business transactions can be. I treasure the subscriber friend who writes when she enjoys an article and the writer friend who sends a note with their article and the yarn store owner friend I get dinner with at shows.
The richness of fiber friendships is up there with natural fibers, the history of human ingenuity, and the skill of practiced hands on my list of things I'm grateful for.
Thank you for being a fiber friend.