Mistress Threadbare welcomes visitors to learn about handspinning at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Photo by Diandra Dellucci

Mistress Threadbare, Master Spinner of the Spinners of Newcastle has an alter ego—Paula Vester. The 66-year-old Stone Mountain resident has been demonstrating handspinning at the Georgia Renaissance Faire since 1987, one year after it began.

The year it opened, Vester and her family attended the fair. “I noticed that there were no spinners,” she said. “When I saw the auditions notice the next year, I called the director and arranged for our guild to demonstrate. The Peachtree Handspinners Guild has been there ever since, and so have I.”

Vester said the Renaissance Faire has been a wonderful outreach for the guild; at one time a third of the group’s membership were introduced to them there. Peachtree Handspinners Guild, a non-profit organization that meets monthly in Decatur, is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of the art of handspinning.

“We’re able to talk to the public about our guild and hand out information on our activities, as well as the other textile groups in the metro area,” she explained. “The handspinners are purely educational. We don’t sell anything. The profit from our pay from the fair goes to the guild’s scholarship fund.”

According to Vester, there are a lot of good things about demonstrating at the Renaissance Faire. She gets to educate the public and talk with people all day about something she’s passionate about.

“I love watching the world walk by our booth and interacting with the Village cast, who are all wonderful. My favorites are Barely Balanced Acrobatic Daredevils and the musicians in the pubs and on the grounds,” she said. “I also love watching the yarn grow on my wheel as I spin, and seeing the colors that come out of the dye pots each weekend, turning our basket of wool into a rainbow burst of color.”

The hard part is the heat, and Vester admitted that she’s often exhausted by the end of the weekend. But she perks up once she thinks of meeting more people the next weekend, and of all the exciting things she can do with her newly spun and dyed yarn.

Vester invited everyone to visit her and the other spinners at the fair. “Stop by the Peachtree Handspinners Guild booth. It’s to the left as you walk in the front gate. We’re there all day, spinning, dyeing and talking with people.”

Kathy Dean is a freelance writer and editor based in metro Atlanta.