...Or The Adventures
of A YEAH YEAH YEAH Girl!
Wow. Seriously. WOW.
If you had told me three months
ago that I'd be writing an article about a spinning
event that almost didn't happen and a fundraiser
that raised nearly $19,000 complete with raffle
prizes from 48 vendors , I'd have told you that
you were nuts. I mean, I'm crazy, but you'd be
nuts! What began as a casual idea, and not even
my idea (thanks, Ann),
to get together some fellow spinners and spin
outside, turned into the biggest event I've ever
pulled together. (That's what happens when you
Back in March
I was visiting a good friend who happens to double
as an excellent fiber friend and while we were
taking a tour of her home, I remarked that her
expansive deck was perfect for spinning outside.
It was a cold and rainy almost-spring day and
I was dreaming of warm weather and bare feet and
gentle breezes blowing fiber all over the place.
I think she agreed with me. Later on that weekend
she brought up the idea of spinning outside again.
"We should do it in the
park!" she said. "Lots of us. With our wheels.
We can spin in Central Park!"
I might have replied, "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"
On the last day of March, outside
on my own deck spinning in the late afternoon
sun, the heat on my hands and feet, I put a plan
in motion. A date was picked. Calls were made
to the Parks Department to secure a permit. A
logo was designed for everyone to link proudly
on their blogs. We were really going to do this!
Spin Out was born!
a while after that, to be honest, I stopped thinking
about it. It seemed so far away -- first April,
then May and almost all of June and who knew if
I'd actually get the permit from the Parks Department
and even if I did, would anyone really come? You
know, besides Ann and me? (Which is all Ann ever
intended in the first place!)
In early May, before I had even secured my permit
or a location in the park, I got an email from
Stephanie Martin of Spritely
Goods. She said
some nice things about the fiber I bought at Maryland
Sheep & Wool and told me that sadly, she wasn't
going to be able to attend my planned Spin Out,
but would I like a batt to raffle off? Maybe to
add to my Heifer International totals?
I think I said, "YEAH! YEAH!
I was originally
introduced to Heifer
International through Wendy Johnson, of WendyKnits.net.
She holds an annual holiday fundraiser collecting
for Knitting Baskets, one of the items in Heifer's
"most important gift catalog in the world." Purchase
of a Knitting Basket sends four wool-producing
animals to a community in need. The wool produced
from these animals, as well as the sale of handcrafted
items made from the wool, helps to sustain families
for years and years. Perfect! An organization
that helps people HELP THEMSELVES! And it tied
in with my fiber obsession. I had found my charity!
had sold some photographs and t-shirts to collect
for Heifer, but this was a HUGE opportunity. I
had seen lots of knitters do charitable work before
and while I'm a pretty selfish knitter, I could
certainly donate (and collect) money! I started
to investigate Stephanie's idea and found out
that Heifer encouraged people to open a registry
in order to facilitate giving. I never had a gift
registry when I got married, because, you know,
I eloped, but I've got one now!
As soon as the Parks Department came through with
the permit for Central Park, I started everything
in motion! It was great fun picking items from
Heifer's Gift Catalog: sheep (of course!), llamas,
goats, rabbits, knitting baskets. Pigs for Ann.
Chicks for Jen. Bees for the vegans.
Things were moving along. I had a location, a
t-shirt (super important for any successful event)
and the donations -- money and gifts -- were starting
to pour in. I had set the registry up like a raffle:
for every $10 entered, the participant had the
chance to win fabulous prizes. We had books and
yarn and fiber and craftspeople were coming out
of the woodwork to offers their wares. Friends
told friends and things were exploding.
Then one day I was talking to my friend Tina Newton,
fiber artist extraordinaire, owner of Blue
Moon Fiber Arts and creator of the tantalizing
Socks That Rock, and she said to me:
"I've been thinking. You know what you need to give
away? You need a wheel. How can you have a Spin
Out without giving away a spinning wheel?"
I KNOW I said, "YEAH! YEAH!
her business partner, Toni Neil, owner of The
Fold. Toni runs a one stop shop for all things
fiber, located on a farm outside of Chicago. She
was THRILLED with Tina's idea. [Her contribution
is at left - a Suzie Pro by Majacraft.]
Giving away a spinning wheel brought this thing
to a whole other level. I became brazen in my
fundraising efforts -- contacting large companies
and knitting fashion mavens like Lexie
Barnes asking for gift donations. One of my
long standing philosophies in life is that it
never hurts to ask and if someone says no, well,
then, you're no worse off than you were before
you asked! AND EVERYONE SAID YES!
As the actual event approached, my days were spent
organizing spreadsheets of registry donations
and gift donations, finding the best swag possible,
making lists of things I absolutely could not
I was so busy,
I hardly had time to watch the weather.
live right outside New York City; I can see it
from my apartment building. I love to watch the
rain roll across the Meadowlands toward the City.
The week before the Spin Out, it was very hot
and humid and every day they were calling for
thunderstorms and rain. And every day it stayed
hot and humid and NEVER rained. Okay, sure, maybe
a shower here and there in the middle of the night,
but nothing to relieve the pressure -- in the
atmosphere or in my heart. By Thursday night,
with exceedingly awful weather being forecast
for the weekend, I was freaking out. Freaking.
What if it rained
on my wedding day, er, at SPIN OUT?
I became obsessed with the weather. Would it be
better on Sunday? Should we move it to Sunday?
Turns out I didn't have the rain date booked at
the park that I thought I had, so it was Saturday
or bust. I went out and bought $100 worth of tarps.
And some cute emergency ponchos. How could it
By Friday night
things looked really, really bad. But I knew people
were coming in from near and far and plans had
been made and the show HAD TO GO ON! I sent out
a plea for someone, ANY one who might know of
an indoor place in the city available for a bunch
of spinners and knitters and their equipment.
I had a lot of good suggestions and I followed
up on a bunch of them, but nothing panned out.
Then I got an email at around 11: 00 PM Friday
night. It was from Shana Wernow, who reads my
blog AND works for the Parks Department.
"Did you find a place
yet?" she asked.
"NO! NO! NO!" was my
At 11:30 Friday night, Shana emailed Kim McNeal,
Director of Manhattan Recreation, requesting a
I barely slept.
At 6:30 AM the next morning
I crawled out of bed, tiptoed from the bedroom
so as not to wake my husband, and found my way
to a window. Rain. Gray. Black. Acid like.
I had already publicly said
the show must go on, so go on it did. I posted
that we were doing it, but I didn't know where
and I'd get back to everyone. E-mails started
flying in. Cell phone numbers were given out.
I called location possibilities. My husband and
I debated the finer points of indoor public spaces
in Manhattan. It was raining and stifling hot
-- how many homeless people might be interested
I had actually
made a decision and was about to blog the location
for everyone, when I got a phone call from Shana.
It was around 10AM. The Spin Out had been scheduled
to start at 11.
"Kim wants to know how
I guessed at a number and told Shana I was jumping
in the shower. I told her my intermediate solution
and that if I didn't hear back from her in a half
hour, I was going with it.
cell phone rang while I was under water. With
conditioner in my hair I heard Shana say, "We've
got a place! A Rec Center in Manhattan!"
Trying to hold back my tears,
I shouted to her, "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"
I'm proud to say I only cried once that day. Right
after I blogged the new location and there was
no turning back -- IT WAS ALL GOING TO HAPPEN
-- I broke down.
"I'm really emotional
right now, so don't make a joke, okay?" I said
to Ann. "It's on. Here's the location. I'll see
packed anything up the night before (superstitious,
I guess) and so it was a mad dash to remember
everything. Georgie helped me throw stuff in the
car and drove me into the city. I was strangely
The staff at the
East 54th Street Recreation Center
were awaiting my arrival and couldn't have been
more helpful! We had tables and chairs and...basketballs.
The location we were given
was the indoor basketball court at the Rec Center,
which we shared happily with local hoop enthusiasts.
No one that I know of got hit with a ball, although
I'm sure there were a few near misses.
started arriving, wheels started opening, fiber
started flying and we were off! The Spinning Study
Group of Long Island had graciously donated quite
a few CD spindle kits and Stephanie Martin cooked
up a batch of gorgeous mini batts so everyone
that wanted to had the means to spin! Jenny Bakriges
had traveled down from Vermont and before there
were ten people in the room she had set up a spindle
spinning workshop. I can't tell you how my heart
overflowed to see groups of students moving in
and out of the chairs around Jenny. At least ten
people learned to spin that day thanks to her!
Spinners came from as
far away as Fairfax, VA and New England! Spinners
got caught in the rain in Central Park looking
for us and were intrepid in finding the new location,
joining us rain soaked and smiling. Spinners who
had never spun on a wheel before tried it out.
Spinners who had never spun on THAT wheel before
tried a new one. Spindles were admired. Fiber
was petted. Buttons were worn. Candy was eaten.
talked about wheels and fiber and knitting and
the rain and Heifer and as usually happens when
fiber folk gather, the sense of community was
palpable. Most of us were strangers to each other
but everyone had a familiar feel. I know you.
You're just like me.
There was so much that was gratifying about that
day: seeing a vision come to fruition. The awe-inspiring
generosity of strangers. People working togethzzzer
to get something DONE. I actually showed people
how to spin on a wheel. Me. I only just got my
wheel last January. How had this come so far?
For a complete listing
of prizes and participating vendors, please
Learn more about
Want a t-shirt [crazy
All proceeds go to Heifer International.
The winner of the Majacraft wheel is lucky
Ellen D. of Virginia
I've heard that knitting
is a gateway craft. It opens your mind to so many
possibilities and options, some you might never
have known existed. I'd like to end on a sappy
note and say that I think the fiber arts open
a gateway to peace and love and friendship.
Thank you so much to everyone
who participated in the event, braved the rain,
donated their hard earned money, time, and goods,
made all things possible.
See you next year. In the park.
Money raised: $18,936
Spin Off 2006
buy @ Heifer International?