Spin To Win


So the other day I grabbed my spinning wheel, and some fiber, and drove over to my favorite locally owned coffee shop to spin in public. Its called Quacks 43rd Street Bakery. I live in city that thinks it worth time and effort to maintain a never-ending public campaign to Keep Austin Weird. For the record, at Quacks they have no trouble keeping it weird.

two wool fibers hand spun into singles
These are the two colorways, both merino wool, that I have been spinning.

Quacks is halfway across town for me and I probably drive past 18 Starbucks to get there. But its worth it. They have a nice outdoor area where I can sit and spin (without being assaulted by air conditioning!) and they have the best chia I’ve ever tasted.


As I said, Quacks can be a bit weird. That’s probably because its nestled in a neighborhood called Hyde Park where you can find a handblown glass shop next to motorcycle repair garage next to a 3 million dollar home next to a pizza by the slice restaurant. Its the kind of neighborhood where residents putt around on scooters and walk their dogs in Donald J Pliner sandals and teenage boys wear kilts if they feel like it. Those Hyde Park people put out quite a lot of effort into being ultra hipsters.

Originally I planned to ply two strands of the pink-ish merino together. But when I tested that, the fiber looked kind of blah. All those pretty colors muddled together and got lost.

That’s where I go to spin in public. Here is my routine:

  • I walk in the door in a pair of faded jeans and cowgirl boots with my frizzy hair twisted into a bun and a cross around my neck. Some day I will wear suspenders and put a piece of straw between my teeth to fully complete the image.
  • I ignore the eye rolls from white college kids in dreadlocks and the contemptuous looks from techno-philes that have two phones and a laptop in front of them.
  • I tell the barista, who is looking at me like I’m a bug, that I want a chia tea with the extra fattening milk and a cookie. Sometimes I tell him I want an extra fattening cookie.
  • Then I take my fattening chia and fattening cookie outside (away from the AC) and set it on a table. If there is anyone else out there braving the heat I ask them very politely if they will watch my food while I go to my truck. This time there was such a somebody. He was a young man engaged in smoking a cigarette and staring out into the abyss while showing off a set of huge holes in his earlobes. His reply was “Sure, whatever”.
  • Then I get my spinning wheel, set up in front of the ultra-hipster coffee shop, and start to spin.
  • Then I WIN.
So I tested the pink with some darker merino I have and that showed potential.

Everyone looks over to see what I’m doing and I do mean everyone. They are peeking around their extra skinny dirty lattes and their phones and their earlobes to get a better look at me and my wheel. Customers will stop in the parking lot and flat out stare. I become the most interesting person at the shop and I get all of that attention the hipsters are desperately craving. Ha.

It doesn’t take very long before people come by to figure out what I’m doing. I suppose that is my opportunity to turn it around, look at them with contempt, and mutter something about renewable, human-powered, fiber, street art or something. But I can’t do that. I can’t resist my instinctive need to tell them all about spinning and how yarn is made. I let them touch the fiber and check out the wheel and ask me questions. Overall I would say half the people who come and go into the coffee shop stop and talk to me. Ha.

I spun up some of each color and plied about 10 yds together.
  • The women are interested in what I’m making. They want to look at the yarn, the fiber, and they always love the color. They ask what I plan to do with the finished yarn.
  • The men are interested in the wheel. They want to figure out how it works, how the twist happens, and how fast it can go. They ask where I bought it and how much did it cost.
  • The dogs are interested in my cookie. They ask if they can eat it.
Then I worked up a tiny test swatch. I’m happy with it. I like the way the dark color single sets off the color changes in the lighter single. What do ya’ll think?

Spin to win. I’m telling ya, no carefully constructed hip outfit or artfully mussed up hair designed to look like attractive bed-head can complete with a spinning wheel. This last time, two guys actually ignored their dates, their dressed to the nines dates, to come over and ask me about my wheel. They didn’t ask for my number or even my name. Those guys were just genuinely interested in spinning and yarn. Their dates seemed a little pissed at this momentary betrayal but come on ladies! Spinning is far more interesting then a highly honed sense of cultured boredom.

Those hipsters need to lighten up.

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"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

18 Comments on "Spin To Win"

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HA! 🙂




Yea, win! Until TSA got weird about it, I loved using my Louet “cat box” wheel in airports—caught everyone from Marines to toddlers in my “web” 🙂


“your web”. That’s a very accurate way to phrase it. Lots of people get stuck on that wheel and just can’t walk past it.

And you need to set up in a new location.


So cool. I wanna be like you one day! (Until then I’ll just knit things that make people ask questions)


Need to get you spinning woman!


Love it!


lol You are a scamp.


nooooooooo. not me.