Twain Revell: Enterprising free spirit

A talk about “Spinning Exotic Fibers” would not normally entice me to a Weavers’ Guild meeting on a freezing Saturday morning, but the possibility of seeing the speaker’s giant angora rabbit was irresistible.

Twain Revell was the guest speaker. “Spinner” doesn’t begin to define her skills, but she is unquestionably an expert spinner who has spun all of the usual fibers, plus bamboo and corn fibers, dog hair, and rabbit — spinning straight from the rabbit while it was in her lap. She is also a knitter, crocheter, sewer, designer, dynamic speaker, and sometime stand-up comic.

Twain majored in marketing in college, then worked at the World Bank where a knitting group reawakened her interest in knitting. Knitting inspired her to learn to spin, and that led to her leaving the World Bank to start a new life as a fiber artist in Harlem.

Twain brought many of her one-of-a-kind pieces, and other visuals, to illustrate her talk. She spoke of the gutsy career change that took her to retail shows, to fashion magazines, and down other roads that artists travel in trying to reach their audience. She emphasized that she does not sketch or follow trends; her inspiration comes from the materials.

twain-in-action3The best way to see the scope of Twain’s work — including her signature mud cloth designs — is to check out her website: The amazing, multicolored, knotted coat shown on her home page took 3 years to create and 5 years to sell. Twain said, “This whole thing is a patience thing,” and that’s a great motto.


After hearing Twain’s talk, I was surprised to find myself asking a friend to return my hand carders and drop spindle, but that impulse may pass.

Sorry to say that Twain’s giant angora rabbit, Lily White, passed away before the meeting took place, so I didn’t get to meet her after all.


5 Responses

  1. I’ve just been introduced to the works of such a great artist by a very mutual friend. Every effort on my part will be done to get involved with a thought provoking, energetic, and dynamic learning experience awaiting me.
    The website, designs, and future possibilities to be learned in the clothing industry affords me an excellent opportunity, and peaks my curiosity.
    Looking forward to the challenge of seeing it demonstrated, and learning from a great artist.
    Until now this was just a dream!
    Ernest 2009

    • Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate your comment.


  2. Hill, You really “got” what I wanted to say. Thank you for reading and for your insightful comment.

  3. Amazing post, by the way. I was really moved by the way in which your description of Twain’s artistry overlaps with the qualities of so many creative ‘crafts’ (whatever their craft may be!)-people that I admire; words like, gutsy, reaching their audience, patience, inspiration, and a mindfulness of their materials.
    Great stuff!

  4. Twain does beautiful work! I like hearing about the amount of time it took to make and then sell that coat. I always feel like I produce things too slowly….but it’s good to know that other people take a long time sometimes too!

    I’m secretly relieved that (so far) I haven’t taken to spinning. I’ve tried it with a drop spindle, and felt like I’d rather buy yarn. Of course, seeing all the amazing handspun yarns online, makes me reconsider that idea. And spinning angora right off a giant angora rabbit would be too cool!

    Thanks for pointing to Twain’s website! I find myself wishing I could go on that trip to Mali!!


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