I took last month off from the Self-Portrait Challenge, but I’m back in this month with this challenge:

photograph your good bits, bad bits, wobbly bits and sexy bits. photograph it all and show us your body. – I don’t expect to see any traditional portraits, no pretty faces or full body shots, rather bits and extracts of your self.

While I certainly have plenty of jiggly bits, I wanted to start this month off with something that feels really good.
I like my hands a lot. I think they look remarkably like my mom’s hands, and I have always thought that she had the most beautiful hands. There are a lot of things about spinning that I really like, and many of them have to do with the way that it connects me to a community of women, big scale and small scale.

People have known how to make twine for pretty much as long as people have been around, but drop spindles, very similiar to the one I’m using in the picture, were probably invented around 10,000 years ago. Since spindles came before the invention of the wheel, it’s theorized that the one led to the other. They spun the Egyptian mummies wraps, and wool for amazing tapestries and works of art, and the thread used to weave the fabric that the pioneers covered their wagons with when they moved West. The Three Fates spin the threads of our mortal lives. Today, in some parts of the country, women still spin the stories of their lives on spindles very much like the one in the picture, a direct line from 10,000 years ago to today. That’s a powerful legacy to be a part of.

On the smaller scale, spinning and fiber arts connects me with a community of women that I respect very much. This spindle was a birthday gift from Preston’s mom. The wool I’m using was also a gift from her, for no reason, I think. The printed fabric on my right knee is the stash bag that Preston’s aunt Tiana made me for xmas this year. Inside that bag is a smaller bag that I use for carrying the spindle and the specific hank of fibers I’m spinning at the time. That smaller bag was given to me as a gift from a dear friend, now not a part of my life, years ago. Everywhere I pull out my spinning, people want to to talk to me about it. Many of them remember their grandmother doing it, especially the older men. “It’s like magic,” they all say. And all of this magic, this channeling of 10,000 years of women’s history into one more-or-less thin, sometimes-lumpy, sometimes-frazzled, always beautiful strand of fibers, and also this more-or-less fabulous (though also sometimes-lumpy, or frazzled, or jiggly) life, I do with my mother’s hands.