An forever-spinning Story

The most basic motion of yarn making is spinning and twisting, thus, most of the yarn making tools are derived from equipment that repeats this spinning motion.

The most ancient yarn making tool on the Tibetan Plateau is the drop spindle. Then comes another spinning tool which could be operated by two people, usually a child constantly pulling the rope that is attached to a stick creating a rotating motion while an adult will concentrate on slowly drawing out the wool from the tip of the turning stick, backing away on the grassland until a very long yarn is made.

As they work and work, they innovated and came up with a better idea where the same tool can have more outputs to create more at once. The concept is the same where one child spins the rope, but instead of rotating one stick, it now rotates numerous sticks at the same time as multiple people back away on the grassland and draw out the wool from the tip of these turning sticks altogether. And of course, they will have enough space to run around on the vast plateau while spinning.

But because of the limited indoor space at our workshop, we adapted and introduced the spinning wheel to our Aunties which they can step on the treadles freely at their own pace, spinning the wheel while the wool is being twisted and winded into the bobbin. This allows SHANGDROK to produce and maintain a consistent quality of our handspun yarn. Moreover, our Aunties no longer need to back away on the field tolerating the sun and wind with the yarn held in their hands.


At SHANGDROK, we try to provide a comfortable work environment as much as we can, to the point where we sometimes spotted our Aunties falling asleep while still spinning. Seeing this, we smiled and often wondered to ourselves, what kind of dream they are spinning into the yarns?

Film and Edit: Jared Yeh @ Wooehmoeh films