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Americans Turn to Spinning Wheel for Stress Relief


The old-fashioned spinning wheel is making a comeback, not just to make yarn -- but to relieve stress. The humble device is fast becoming a popular way for some Americans to deal with the stress of their daily lives. As Amy Katz reports, psychologists agree that the rhythm of the spinning wheel can go a long way toward reducing tension.

When Lisa Neel, an executive working in Washington D.C., gets home after a day's work, she does not watch TV to unwind. She relaxes with the quiet, rhythmic movement of her spinning wheel. Neel says the craft of making yarn helps her relax and the rhythm of her hands, legs, and wheels moving in unison is what refreshes her.

"Spinning for me, it doesn't have a reason, I don't have to do it. I do it because I enjoy it, it's the only thing in my life that I do because I like it and just because it is fun for me."

Some people at a workshop in a Washington suburb come here after work once a week. Some, every day.

The class is special because the spinners will get a chance to try different kinds of spinning wheels from all over the world. Sylvia Demar leads the class.

"The more wheels that my students can see in the class and then try all of the different varieties. They will find the one that is best suited to their needs."

Experts, like psychologist Alan Lipman, believe it is the repetitive motion of spinning that soothes people.

"So, the repetitive aspect, I think, of spinning where you are watching the wheel go round and round and you are engaging in the same set of motions over and over again and that very -- almost hard wired -- calming effect on people."

No one knows exactly how many spinners there are in the U.S., but if Randy Scheessele is any indication, the craft is gaining popularity.

"I have been spinning for about three years and mainly it's for relaxing. Yeah you can do it to create yarns for different projects, but mainly just to come home at night and have something to pick up doing. It is not that hard to get started, and you can just create beautiful things."

Perhaps being able to create something without any pressure or stress is what is drawing many people in the U.S. to the ancient craft of spinning yarn.