walking and spinning as meditation

Last summer I began the practice of traveling with a drop spindle and fibre as my ‘travel craft”- something to keep my hands busy in those interstitial times of waiting.

I spun wool while waiting to board planes and ferries, and even developed a method to spin while a passenger in a car on a long road trip. All of this was totally doable- but what I loved most was spinning while walking.

Slow, gentle steps with my arm able to give a good length before winding up was ideal. And an opportunity to look both at what was at my feet and watch the spindle turn. Walking the small beach by the Mayne Island ferry dock while spinning was the moment I  starting thinking about all of the conversations I was having and the stories I was hearing in the Land & Sea project. It struck me there was a practice to be explored in getting us out of our chairs and into a place of active listening while walking, pacing, spinning and contemplating. I am curious how we can measure the areas of coast line we travel- will be there be a method of measurement that reveals itself of steps walked to lengths of line spun? I have downloaded an app for my phone so I can count my steps while spinning on each walk, and measure against the line spun- and see what, if anything, can be learned from this.

Everyone always wants to know how long it takes to make something- often the first question asked of a maker- so what if the answer was something absurd like 10,692 steps? My inner maverick likes the notion of playing with this gauge of how long something takes- or how long a line spun in those mentioned steps could be.

Our obsession with the measuring of time comes from a desire for efficiency that is programmed into our DNA as a part of our survival, and continues to be what leads new innovations, but I feel as a species we have moved beyond that to a hyper-efficiency where now, we need to slow down- to use less, to do less and to consume less.

Somehow in a still very muddled way this comes full circle back to walking slowly, a gentle mediation where we are in the moment, watching a spindle turn or twisting our fingers in a rhythm that becomes connected to our footsteps.


Land & Sea Spinning and Walking Clubs

It was mentioned to me after one of the the conversation circles we hosted how the act of thigh spinning provided the perfect counterpoint to deep listening for the  often difficult stories being shared. I am curious to see how my ability to take in the stories I hear of this Coast Salish place will be impacted by having pauses to walk and spin and contemplate, perhaps while my feet touch the water. Will stories nestle deeper, to be internalized in a physical way, with greater retention of details?

The Walk Series

Walks begin at 6.30pm, with fibre handed out, sign in and rope making refreshers beginning at 6pm.

Closed toe shoes are recommended for uneven terrain we may encounter. Also, wear clothes that you can move in, consider that skirts and loose sleeves or excess fabric can hinder spindle movement while walking. If you will be spinning and not rope making, dress accordingly.
Each participant will be given a light weight fibre walking kit for the session, either for drop spindling or rope-making which has everything you need to participate.
The sessions will be documented, either by photo or video, any one not wishing to appear in documentation is still welcome to participate in the project.


Wed. June 27th- 6.30-8.30 pm meet at Trillium North park, corner of Malkin and Thornton streets in the Strathcona neighbourhood. We will practice our walking and spinning in the park. free drop in

Wed. July 4th- 6.30-8.30 pm,  with Senaqwila Wyss Vancouver Coal Harbour area- exact meeting spot announced to registrants 24 hours prior to date ,  free, limited space. Register

Wed. August 15- 6.30-8.30 pm, with Christie Lee, Vancouver coastal location. Free, limited space, Register

Wed August 22- 6.30-8.30 pm, Vancouver coastal location tba, pre-reg coming soon

West Vancouver:

Monday July 30- Friday  August 3 6.30-8.30pm, various locations around Ambleside Park.

Led by Tracy Williams and Sharon Kallis. Shifting between stories connected to place and walking while making, we will travel slowly, then measure our labour- relative to the terrain near the Ambleside coastline. Each walk holds opportunities for stewardship, contemplation of what lays at our feet, and the sharing of skills, traditions and history of the  Xwemelch’stn village that emerge as we walk.

Limited drop in space is available each night  for $8. cash on arrival, or register for the series ( $25) and confirm your spot here

Thursday August 9th- 6-8.30- Final Celebration at the Ferry Building, Ambleside Park- Join us for  measuring our threads and knotting a net sculpture from resulting fibres.

CACiS, Catalunya

I am thrilled I will be returning to this special place in October this year, and will be continuing my practice of spinning and walking in the hills and nearby vineyards. Walking with Karen Barnaby and locals, we will forage for mushrooms while spinning hay-bale flax that has retted for many years. Then feast on mushrooms and  start up mushroom dye pots. I new way to discover this place I will be returning to for the fourth time since 2010.



3 responses to “walking and spinning as meditation

  1. Great insight as a maker. My absolute most common two questions are: “did you really make this?” and “how long did it take?” I like the more absurd answer without being a smart alec. Thanks for this. And class sounded great too.

    • George!… I have tell you we have come full circle- when my friends and I first began talking about the weaving wagon Martin found your Vardo Project and we were all inspired, so it’s fantastic and full circle for you to post it on your website. ( Martin is both an amazing hand-skill guy I am lucky to know, but also the man who has made all of our documentaries about the projects I do and prompted me to follow your site)… Question- could that have been Canadian Jim I saw in one for your photos with shoes? Hope so- that would mean at some point our paths will likely cross in person at a west coast skill camp?
      cheers, Sharon

      • Yes Sharon, full circle indeed! That is so cool that we have found each other’s work through different paths. And yes again, that is Canadian Jim Gnapp. He appears in several places around the blog and has been my top commenter. We are friends through the Society of Primitive Technology world and I have instructed at gatherings for years now. I am amazed at the connections that keep coming into my life and I certainly hope we cross paths sooner rather than later. I have family in Oregon and have always loved the Pacific Northwest. We hope to wander back up that way soon.

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