While many of his peers are focused on activities like video games or sports, William Carle is busy weaving his love of textiles with career ambitions.
More specifically, the teen is making yarn using a spinning wheel - a medieval-era device that some people may see as out of place in 2024.
“It’s so important to keep the history alive,” Carle said when asked why he's so passionate about the craft.
At 14 years of age, Carle is the youngest member of the Credit Valley Artisans (CVA). He's a knitter - a skill he picked up from his mother, Lara Pollock - and a weaver. Having been part of the trade for four years now, and the CVA since last fall, he has used his skills to make mittens, scarves and tea towels.
But his aptitude with the craft doesn’t just stop at wool. He estimates that he's owned over a dozen spinning wheels, some of which came to him in quite a shabby condition.
“He has maintained and repaired wheels and looms. He’s very practical. He’s applied a lot of knowledge,” a visibly proud Pollock said. “To go from figuring out how the spinning wheel works to actually weaving a scarf from salvaged fibre is pretty cool.”
The art Carle lives and breathes has its origins in medieval India - one of the reasons why a wheel is featured on the Indian flag. The National Museum of American History believes that this specific style of making yarn may have originated sometime between the years 500 and 1000 A.D.
The Chinese and the peoples of the Middle East adopted the Indian method sometime around the year 1000. It arrived in Europe sometime in the 13th century through the Middle East.
Fast forward several centuries, Carle adopted the craft of millions before him. He took up the art during the pandemic. His mother attempted to do the same, but decided it just wasn’t for her.
“Ten minutes in, I’m out,” Pollock said. “The joke in our house is that mom’s bum never sits on a chair." Raising six children meant that she just didn’t have time either.
For Carle, spinning was like a fish taking to water. He was in his element.
“It’s something that you can use to express your creativity, but it also keeps your brain going,” Carle said.
“(I'm thinking), how can I make my technique better? What can I do with this yarn? What will my next project be?”
He's laser-focused on becoming a textile engineer and wants to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
In the meantime, the CVA’s many experienced textile artists are delighting in educating Carle.
More information on the CVA, including ongoing workshops, can be found on CreditValleyArtisans.ca.