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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

One in 8,700 - 4/29

In the years between 1975 and 1980, NASA launched the Viking 1 planetary probe towards Mars, Richard Leakey discovered a 1.5 million year old homo erectus skull in Kenya and Sony introduced the first portable stereo, the walkman.Christine Homer spent this time milking cows by hand, cooking over an open hearth and spinning yarn on a wooden wheel.

As an interpreter at a living history museum in New York for five years, Homer worked with 18 century technology on a daily basis.

Although she has since moved to Bristol, Vt and has traded homespun dresses for more modern apparel, Homer still appreciates the skills she learned in her role as a colonial woman in the Hudson Valley. Now a member of the nominating committee of Addison County’s Twist O’ Wool guild, Homer continues to spin her own yarn, which she also uses to weave textiles.

Homer’s interest in spinning began before she learned the craft in the late 70s.

“When I was in college I was interested in weaving and textiles,” Homer remembers. “I guess I was determined to spin, because I purchased a drop spindle back in 1973.”

This interest comes from a long appreciation of art in general. Homer graduated from Philadelphia College of Art in 1973, where she experimented with various mediums, including photography, paint and textiles. The Phillipsburg Manor Living History Museum put her creativity to the test, requiring her to be proficient in certain crafts, so she could educate visitors and maintain a believable 18 century persona.

When she moved to Vermont with her husband, Robert Compton, Homer applied her skills on a practical level. She sells her textiles in a showroom at her home, where Compton also sells his handiwork. Sharing his wife’s knack for aesthetic creation, Compton is an accomplished potter.

“We’ve always made our living through his and my craft,” Homer noted.

Homer also makes it a priority to spread opportunities for people to learn the process of spinning and weaving their own textiles. She joined the Twist O’ Wool Guild in 1980, the same year she moved to Vermont.

“I love the camaraderie, getting to know other people who share the same interest and learning to become more proficient at spinning, weaving, and knitting,” Homer said of her time with Twist O’ Wool.

The guild was founded in 1979 by Ellen Leone. A Bristol resident with sheep of her own, Leone found that there was interest within the community for spinning. She started teaching classes in the evening at Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol, and shortly after she and the participants formalized their meetings and started the guild.

“It really was set up as a way for people to enjoy an activity together and to become more proficient at the process of spinning,” Homer said. “A lot of people were knitters already and as the guild grew more sheep farmers got involved. It helped that there were members with complementary interests.”

The guild is also involved with educational outreach. Notably, it participates in the Addison County Fair and Field Days every year, where fairgoers can watch spinning demonstrations and try for themselves.

Members also meet on a regular basis from September through June. Their meetings, on the first Thursday of each month, feature guest speakers and spinning-specific activities. Homer encourages people to come see what spinning is all about. It’s a craft that, despite its being rooted in antiquity, never gets old.

“I love the whole process,” she said. “It’s never boring, there’s always something new about it. There are always new challenges.”