BALCOM CORNERS - The Hilltop Spinners met recently for a meeting at the Villenova Grange hall located at Balcom Corners.
The meeting was hosted by Neva Woolley and Martha Woolley, both members of the grange. The Hilltop Spinners is a group of people who organized about 35 years ago to keep the old tradition of using spinning wheels alive. There are many different kinds of spinning wheels, but the main idea is to take fleece and turn it into yarn for weaving.
"It is the twist that gives the yarn strength" all will say. The use of spinning wheels dates backs for centuries to make yarn for clothing and other household items. On ships, spinning wheels were used to make the yarn for sails.
Shown in the photograph are Hilltop Spinners members Yvonne Lee using her spinning wheel, Sue Barone using her spinning wheel, and Linda Mason knitting at the Villenova Grange Hall.
The group is composed of members from southwestern New York, northwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. The original president was Kay VanOrd of Russell, Pa., who served as the president for 25 years. Other presidents who followed were John Sipos of Cassadaga, Carol Gates of Sherman, Kent Knappenberger of Westfield. Nanette Knappenberger of Westfield is now the president. Claire Heverley of Ripley serves as the secretary and newsletter editor, and Yvonne Lee of Warren serves as the treasurer. Mr. Knappenberger serves as the librarian, which is a portable library of books on wheels.
At the recent meeting, people shared their spinning techniques, and some of their finished products. Knitting of the yarn and needle felting are now a part of the group's activities. Dell Gates is known for his many needle felted hats which he creates from multicolored fleece and donates his hats to groups of people having medical issues. Martha Woolley showed her latest needle felted hat and Linda Mason of Warren showed her felted hat as well. Carol Spencer of Frewsburg showed her felted lunch bag, which she knitted first, and then put into the washing machine for agitation to make the felted product. "Abusing" the wool whether by a washing machine or by poking it with a felting needle will make felt. Mrs. Spencer also showed a "drop spindle" that her husband had recently made. Neva Woolley showed some crocheted items she recently made from the yarn of her late mother-in-law. She said she had attended a knitting session and saw some using the crochet style, and said she can do this. Susan Sipos of Cassadaga showed a ruffle knitted scarf she made from a pattern given to her by Jean Johnson of Ohio. Carol Gates showed her latest spin of 140 yards of Shetland wool. The program of the day concluded with Martha Woolley reading one of her many famous poems about cookies.
Fleece from sheep, angora goats, angora rabbits, and other animals is used in making the yarn. The group also elected officers, with Mrs. Knappenberger continuing as president, Mrs. Heverley as the newsletter editor and Mrs. Lee as the treasurer. New member Tammy Berg of Sinclairville was welcomed to the group.
The next meeting of the group, which meets on the second Saturday of the even months of the year, will be in December at the Cassadaga American Legion Hall on Maple Avenue at 10 a.m. Members are asked to bring a dish of food to pass and their own table service. The meeting will include spinning, the annual competition of created items, and a gift exchange. New members are welcome to attend.