Saturday, 3 November 2012


A few years ago I had the very great privilege of taking a day-long class with Judith MacKenzie. Judith is a teacher of textile arts; she is an acknowledged master of knitting, spinning, and weaving, but is one of those people who knows so much more that you can't really call her anything but Teacher.

The class I took from her was ostensibly about spinning yarn for socks. And it was, mostly. But it was also a little bit about knitting socks, and a bit about selecting breeds of wool for different purposes, and a wee bit about spinning warp yarns for weaving, and a lot about how to teach. I suspect that last one was mostly me watching, but Judith can teach anyone anything.

Judith has been teaching textile arts longer than I've been alive. She's travelled the world and met literally thousands of artists. She's collected so much information, so many memories - and with them, all the millions of bits and pieces that 'making' people tend to assemble in their lives.

Last Monday her studio burned to the ground.

EVERYTHING to do with her art and her work was in that studio. Her looms. Her spinning wheels. Her textile samples. Her library. Her yarn. Her fiber. Her life and livelihood.

Much of what was lost is utterly irreplaceable. But she still needs to work, to teach, and to do that, the textile community is about to do what it does best. The Yarn Harlot says it perfectly:

"...this community takes care of its own, and Judith MacKenzie? She's definitely ours."

There is a website, still under construction, called Rebuild Judith's Studio. One of the few finished parts is the Donate button. They are also taking donations of equipment and materials to restock the new studio once it has been built.

As a general rule I don't blog about things that involve fundraising. For Judith I make this exception. Directly or indirectly she has touched the lives of almost every textile artist I know, and she is hurting right now.

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