Weavers have local gathering under shady maple

Vicksburg resident Lisa Beams shows how she pulls wool from a clump in order to comb it. Beams and three friends gathered in her front yard in early July to spin wool for the first time in more than four months.

By Jef Rietsma

It was a small but happy reunion, and a reminder of how easy it was to take “normal” for granted in the days before coronavirus.

Four friends who are members of the South County Fiber Arts group gathered under the shade of a massive maple tree July 8 in Lisa Beams’ front yard on Channelview Drive in Vicksburg.

It was their first time together in four months and the joy of reuniting was obvious. There was lots of laughter, plenty of chatting and evidence of a strong camaraderie, as each member of the quartet worked with machine-like precision.

“Except for me … I’m just here for the social component,” said Portage resident Terri Drafta with a laugh. “I didn’t even bring anything; I’m just here to talk.”

South County Fiber Arts group has about a dozen members but the four decided to gather for an impromptu weaving session. The end product of their labor? Yarn.

The beginning of the process started with Beams, who combed raw wool into small nests that would then go to a spinning wheel. Jodie Gerard worked a spinning wheel and Julie Renzema used a drop spindle to perform the laborious task of drafting.

“It’s a wonderful social activity, knitting, and making things with the fiber and the yarn is great,” Beams said. “But the social part of it has just been wonderful. We’ve missed each other
so much.”

Renzema, meanwhile, said the companionship with like-minded people is something she has missed greatly since mid-March.

“It’s not a requirement for us to spin our wool – at one point in history it was a necessity – but this is our version of a quilting bee,” she said. “It’s just so much better doing this when we can be together and not conversing over Zoom.”

Drafta said the reunion was a long-anticipated moment and she loved every minute of the gathering.

“The great thing about this group is, I just kind of came into the group, they accepted me from the first night,” she said. “Everything that I’ve tried they’ve encouraged me that I can do it, though I’ve proved them wrong. But I’m still trying, at least.”

Though they didn’t have a set schedule to meet again, the women said they hope the next gathering would be with the entire South County Fiber Arts group.

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