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Tajikistan Spinners Visit The States


Four women representing their spinning groups from parts of Tajikistan visited the States with project leader Liba Brent and photographer Tona Williams. Here is their journey from The Vogue Knitting Show and Times Square New York, to Peace Fleece and Peak's Island in Maine, and many places in between.

Tajik Spinners

Their soft handspun Cashgora yarn is now available to purchase on our website! Just click here.

New York

Ladies arrive in New York City

It was just hard for me to get my mind around the fact that in 36 hours these women had left some of the most remote outposts in the world, flew for the first time in an aircraft that took them half way around the world and deposited them not only in New York City but into the New York Marriot Marquis, 2 blocks from Times Square. They were just incredible, reported Liba, their guide and our partner in this trip. When they entered the hotel and the world of high end fashion, they just took off, visiting the booths, feeling the fiber and comparing the quality of their cashmere yarn with that of these American producers. Language was just not an issue. As they walked through Manhattan and rode tour busses around the island, they seemed very comfortable.


At the Vogue Show Vogue Show

The Vogue Knitting Show


Sleigh Ride at Peace Fleece

Sleigh Ride at Peace Fleece

The group arrived in Maine on a cold day with blue skies and blustery winds. We had no idea if they would have warm clothes with them but when they climbed on the sleigh all they needed was a warm blanket and a pillow for their backs. Luggage was hauled up the hill to our guest house "El Nedo" (the nest) as the group settled in for a late lunch in the farmhouse. Some Ravelry folks came over from New Hampshire and later that day after the group made the trek up the hill, we were joined by our Peace Fleece staff as well as local friends. Spinning wheels spun, knitting needles clicked away and good food bubbled on the stove.

Liba and Tona

Liba and Tona's turn on the sleigh!


Liba and Tona

Lunch at the farm


New Aim Fiber Mill

On to New Aim Fiber Mill, Waldoboro, Maine

Early the following morning we all set out in a seven passenger from Porter to the coast of Maine. Our first stop was the New Aim Mini Mill in Waldoboro. Nancy processes fiber there from around the country and it was the first time that with women spinners saw fiber processed in this manner. Nancy had machinery that took the raw fiber through every stage from washing to steam plying. There has been talk of importing such equipment to Tajikistan to provide more women with jobs and more product onto the market.


At Springtide Cashmere Farm, Bremen

Maine is lucky to have one of the premiere cashmere flocks in the nation in Bremen, a peninsula sticking out into Muscongus Bay. Wendy Pieh's sunlit kitchen and living room were filled with spinners and knitters from near and far and after a brisk tour to admire the flock we all settled into a hearty lunch complete with an assortment of goat cheeses. Here for the first time the spinners took out their Tajik electric spinning wheel to demonstrate what they use to guarantee a fiber of consistent diameter and strength. For many in the room it was the first time they had seen, much less tried such a system and all were encouraged to try it out. With so much excitement and focus on the art of spinning I began to see the Tajik women begin to ease back in their chairs, laugh, enjoy the food and take in all that was happening around them.



Deborah's house

Wonderful evening and morning spent at Deborah's house in Falmouth

Debra Luhrs is a close friend who has joined Marty and me on several occasions, once in Russia and trice in the Middle East. Her beautiful home in a friendly neighborhood overlooking Casco Bay and the city of Portland was the perfect place to set up camp. During the days we met more fiber people, explored the islands in the bay, visited a fish market where we were gifted samples of lobster, went gift shopping for all those back home and took a quick look at life in a small American city. None of the women had ever seen an ocean up close, much less rode across it on a ferry boat.

On the final night of their stay in Maine we had a pot luck good-by dinner. When my friend Tara who is close in age to our guests arrived, she sat down on the floor next to the women, began talking enthusiastically in Russian about all manner of subjects and soon the entire couch was alive with laughter and conversation. Our last evening could not have been better!

Pete entertains

Pete entertains with his Russian langauge skills.

Sharing pictures of family back in Tajikistan




Then a ferry ride over to Peak's Island and a walk on the beach. It was their first time seeing the ocean! Worth enduring the freezing temps?


Dangerous encounter with a Maine Lobster!


Last stop in Maine - Port Fiber in Portland

Tuluikhon spins with a Tajik e-spinning wheel

As Liba was showing our guests how to open oysters with a knife, Casey of PortFibers was welcoming an overflowing crowd of fiber folks to her Portland studio. And much to everyone's delight we opened a large box and out poured many skeins of Tajik Cashgora which these very women had spun back home 6,212 miles away. After all the oysters were gone and greetings and good-bys were exchanged, we found that all the Cashgora had been sold with much needed currency returning with these women to their families and communities.


What's to come?

The spinners at Debra's house were very keen on setting up a communication system where we could keep in touch on a regular basis with our new friends. Liba is returning to Tajikistan this spring and can facilitate e-contact, be it through mail or Skype. There is hope for a hub forming in Portland, complete with translators, where fiber folks would gather and chat with our new Central Asian friends. We feel this is important for several reasons. These Tajik spinners who visited each manage a larger group of production spinners. They work out of their homes in a central facility and are now in many instances either the primary or sole provider of family income. This is very unique in a Central Asian Muslim country. As these women return home they will be seen as role models who will mentor their skills in spinning, economics and managing a small business. They will have questions for many of us here in the west. Even though cultural differences exist, we have much to offer each other. Let us know here at Peace Fleece if you would be interested in being a part of such an exchange.