Hi-Tech returns to Low-Tech

I like this, but it seems to be taking something currently prized for its low-tech simplicity, spinning, and automating it. Are there cycles of technology? People reject machined versions of things and do them by hand…only to create machines to help? Hmmmm…..

4 thoughts on “Hi-Tech returns to Low-Tech

  1. Deb has a point, but Deana’s question is valid. I’m reminded of Motel the tailor’s comment in “Fiddler on the Roof” about never sewing anything by hand ever again. This is more toy than machine, though, which makes it less something to do the job for you and more something to play with while you do all the really interesting bits.

    Put another way, I think the ‘craft’ part of this is all about doing the parts you love, using tools to do as much of the drudgery as possible, and keeping artistic control of the whole process.

  2. Actually, it’s not for spinning. Well, eventually. It’s for taking skeins of yarn (already made, some by machine, some by hand) and winding them into center-pull balls, which are easier to use when knitting or weaving. The ball-winder, which exists in pretty much the same shape and size in a handle-driven manual form, is a standard piece of equipment in many a fiber-crafters’ toolchest. It’s not an ancient tool (but then, many things aren’t–think spinning wheel, which is only about 700 years old) but a very handy one. The battery-powered motor goofiness is a bit of a charming nod to the play between craft and tech. Having a website helps many fiberartists sell their work. Computer-design programs for looms are very popular. I think it’s the accessibility of the possibilities to the layman, the amateur, that makes this symbiosis so interesting. Those women who knit sweaters in Fair Isle (Scotland, not just the technique) make a lot more money now that those sweaters can be sold online to Japanese skiiers in Switzerland. Being able to choose one’s level of tech is part of the attraction to choosing low-tech, understanding as one does that the attraction is for the feel of the fiber in one’s hands, the hand-brain-foot-tool action-response, and not because it’s necessary to spin wool by candlelight at 11 at night in order to scrape a living. Ah, modernity: the right to enjoy only the aspects of an activity that we like!

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