by Judy Newland
Schacht Spindle Company just celebrated a 50th anniversary and it got me thinking about the people who helped me get started in spinning, weaving, and other textile pursuits. We never get to where we are without a helping hand and honoring those who came before – the ancient ones and those closer in time – enrich our textile history and culture. There is no better way to do this than sharing stories.
I recently moved across country, and my two big looms stayed behind with wonderful friends to start the next chapter in their story. I am the proud owner of a shiny new Schacht Wolf Pup loom. As I worked to assemble it I was also knitting a cowl with very special handspun yarn, a silk and wool blend dyed with madder, that I have saved for years. It was spun by my first spinning mentor, Edith Marsh, who was also a weaver, knitter and natural dyer. She loaned me that same spinning wheel in a box to take with me to the Toronto HGA meeting long ago. Her handspun yarn is a gift of remembrance.
I decided that my first weaving on my new Wolf Pup LT would be made from that same handspun, in honor of Edith and all who freely pass on their knowledge. She was the consummate example of our guild’s motto Each One, Teach One, her generosity a model for all to follow. I have tried to honor her legacy by sharing my experience and enthusiasm. I bought my own spinning wheel kit, and still keep it by my side for the long rainy winters in the Northwest, but my “extra” spinning wheel lives with a friend in Colorado who is new to spinning. So, on we go, sharing and teaching those who come into our lives with loving hands.
Donna C. – Manufacturing Manager
Donna grew up in Danville, Virginia and moved around a lot as a child. She’s lived in Longmont off and on since 1994. She and her husband (Peter W.) work in side-by-side roles at Schacht.
Donna organizes and facilitates workflow of products. She’s been with Schacht since December 2013, working as shipping clerk, then shipping manager, and then assembly manager. She’s held her current position since January 2017, managing people and scheduling—the “what” and “when” of the shop’s operations.
Donna sews, quilts, grows pollinator flowers, and pursues bicycling and photography. She’s been a weaver since 1995, when she spent a year working in Schacht’s Production department. Color—especially hand-dyed color—drives her weaving. She prefers to weave fabrics with no particular goal in mind; she does it for the process rather than the result.
Peter R. – Shop Foreman
Peter was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Cleveland, so he’s a long-suffering Browns fan. He’s lived in Colorado since 1982.
Some of Peter’s previous jobs include: script writer, cross-country ski fitter for celebrities, and pharmacy tech for Joe Montana. Before coming to Schacht, he was in marketing where he produced website content. He joined us in 2018 because he wanted to make tangible things.
Working with wood comes naturally to Peter. His family is really handy, so they encouraged him to get into building log furniture. Though he wasn’t familiar with weaving and spinning, he understood the urge to create. He says, “It’s powerful to take things around you and make something new.”
Peter enjoys all kinds of winter sports and racing. He’s a speed skater, mountain runner, and snowshoe racer, among other things. He builds furniture and wants to try upholstery. He lives with his wife and son.
Troy T. – Loom Assembler
Troy has built looms at Schacht since 2016. He claims Niagara Falls, Ontario as his home town; he’s lived in Colorado since 2002.
He didn’t know anything about looms, spinning wheels, or fiber arts when he started working here. Troy was pleasantly surprised to learn that looms are sold year-round. He was also surprised that a handspinning cousin of his knew of Schacht and our wheels. The Mighty Wolf is his favorite product, because it’s wide and has the built-in high castle.
Though he’d never considered himself handy before working at Schacht, he’s learned enough to take on small building projects. His other hobbies happen outdoors: fly fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, extreme winter sports, back country skiing, canyoneering.
Matt W. – Industrial Designer
Matt was born in Chicago and grew up in Anaheim Hills, California. He moved to Colorado in 1997, spent 18 months in New York City, then moved back to Boulder, where he’s lived ever since. He lives with his wife, son, daughter, and a dog named Mabel.
Matt first became acquainted with Schacht in 2014 as an intern. He ran CNC machines and operated other woodworking tools. After the internship ended, he stayed on to design and update Mirrycle products. His duties soon spread to Schacht, including some photography, graphic design, and making drawings for production. Matt helped develop the Lilli Loom and the Flatiron, from initial product design, to prototyping, to finalizing the product design.
He has learned to spin and understands the theory of weaving. Outside of work, Matt follows professional sports, and bikes and snowboards with his family. He enjoys reading, fixing and making things.
Peter W. – Production Foreman
Pete describes himself as someone filled with wanderlust. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. Since then, he’s lived in several Colorado towns, North Carolina, California, and Alaska. He lives with his wife Donna C. in Longmont, Colorado.
When Pete began working at Schacht in 2010, he was hired as a temporary production worker. Nine years later, Peter’s job requires detailed knowledge of every Schacht product: its component parts from wood pieces to fasteners, how it’s made, how it needs to function, and how, after it’s tested for quality, it’s disassembled for shipping. Pete also builds Cranbrook looms, which he loves because of their large scale.
Problem-solving for new products also fills Pete’s time at work. He enjoys prototyping and was involved in developing the Flatiron wheel every step of the way.
Outside of work, Pete builds stuff and explores the great outdoors. Peter spends his time building boats, blacksmithing, mountain biking, backpacking, and fly fishing.
Shoua Y. – Assembly Manager
Shoua was born and grew up in Laos. She came to Colorado in 1980 as a refugee. When she and her first husband left Laos, they spent a year in Thailand and then a friend in Colorado was able to sponsor them. Her first husband died in 1987; she later remarried. She now lives with her husband and her husband’s cats. Two of her three stepchildren live in Colorado.
Shoua worked at Schacht for a few years starting in 1981, then left for a while, then came back in 1984 and has been here ever since. Shoua is the manager of the Assembly department for Schacht and Mirrycle products. She has learned how to make nearly every product at one time or another, with one exception: she’s never been trained to assemble spinning wheels.
Outside of work, Shoua tends vegetable gardens on the Schacht grounds and at home. She walks a lot and cooks a great deal, recreating recipes that her mother taught her. These recipes were never written down, as Shoua’s native language (Hmong) had no writing system when she was growing up.
Shoua has seen many changes over the years, from building the factory at Ben Place to bringing in CNC machines. When she first joined the company, it had only 10 employees who produced parts by hand. The CNC machines increased the quality of parts, which makes the assemblers’ jobs easier. But one thing hasn’t changed at Schacht—she gets to work with people she likes. Shoua says that Barry is like a second father to her, and she shares many memories with other long-term employees.