Things to be Thankful For

Well, this is the week of Thanksgiving. In my family, we usually try to find time to remember people who've added to our lives. One of my favorites was Anne Blinks.

I was very lucky in getting to know Anne while she was still very much alive, as opposed to people who knew her just by reputation. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, between San Jose and Santa Cruz in California. When I had only been spinning for a relatively short while, I decided that I wanted to try spinning mohair. Several people told me that I should give Anne Blinks in Carmel a call. And so I did.

My first visit was one where my friend Margaret and I (having phoned first) turned up to buy kid mohair. But it wasn't going to be quite that easy. First we got to meet with Anne in her absolutely fascinating, and terribly disorganized, studio. At the time she was recovering from surgery and was pretty much bed-ridden. I would guess that she was in her late 70's, early 80's. Anne was fascinating. She not too gently quizzed us about what we knew, and in pretty quick order figured out what we didn't know. And mainly what we didn't know was about mohair.

So over cups of coffee we chatted for awhile. We learned about the various grades of mohair. We learned about problems with spinning kid mohair and why yearling would be a better choice. And we learned about Anne's efforts towards raising naturally colored angora goats. Mainly what we learned was that Anne was a fascinating lady.

A few weeks after our visit, I received a phone call from Anne telling me that there was a wool sale that I needed to attend -- and that I could take her. I was a bit taken back when I found out that the sale would be up in Yuba City at Lyn and Robert Baker's. Anne told me that Lyn produced excellent Romney that would be more suited for my spinning. The trip would involve my spending Saturday night at the Blinks', driving about two hundred miles on Saturday, probably spending the night, and then returning the next day. Okay fine.

Our trip was wonderful. I learned so many things about the geography, fiber, spinning, Andean weaving, oceanography, ... And then we arrived at the sale, had fun, met new friends, ate too much, and (of course) bought fiber. Anne came and found me around 5:00 and pointed out that the hostess wasn't feeling well and Anne wondered if I was up to driving home that night. Sure. "Well then, we have to go right now." And so we did.

This was the first of many trips I took with Anne. They were always wonderful.

I told Anne at one point that it really was a waste to spend so much time talking to me about weaving, and in particular about Andean weaving. (I'm at best a mediocre weaver.) Anne told me that she knew that but it was okay. I was a good listener and was retaining more than I realized.

I think that Anne's greatest skill was encouraging people to take the next step. She really wanted to know what you were interested in. Anne definitely encourage me and others to explore what we thought we knew. She usually ended a conversation finding out what you were going to do next and getting a commitment as to when it would be done.

A wonderful book (now sadly out of print) called "In Celebration of the Curious Mind : A Festschrift to Honor Anne Blinks on Her 80th Birthday" by Nora Rodgers was written to acknowledge the effect she had had on other's lives. If you get a chance to buy a copy of this book, please do so.

For more information about Anne, you should also check the Summer'93 SpinOff. It had not one, but two, articles about Anne Blinks in it. Anne was tremendously pleased to have the articles written while she was still alive. But even Anne found two articles extreme.

Anne died in 1995.

A group of Anne's friends have brought up additional information about Anne and study guides can be borrowed for a relatively small fee. The site also includes a photo of Anne. A rare thing!

If you have comments, please send email to: Rosemary Brock.

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