A love of spinning and collaboration inspired two lakecity sisters, who live on Fox Mountain, to create the children’s book The Princess and the Moth Dragon.
A Moth Dragon, who is stealing all of the kingdom’s wool, has kidnapped Princess Linette of the Kingdom of Worsted. With only a handmade drop spindle, the resources on hand and her determination, Lena must escape her captor and recover all of her kingdom’s lost wool.
Sisters Grace and Mariah Reimer have always loved collaborating together on various projects. Participants as vendors at the Medieval Market, the seed for this 50-page book were planted there last year.
Grace owns a dog-grooming shop on Fox Mountain and loves to hand spin their fur into string and yarn while at the market. She found that children were especially interested in her spinning within this medieval, castle-themed setting.
“I always wanted to write a children’s book,” Grace said, Mariah adding. “I always wanted to illustrate a children’s book.”
With this desire in mind, Grace set out to write a medieval fairy tale story centered on spinning. As many fairy tales involve escape, she centered her story on the idea of how someone might escape a really difficult situation using only a hand drop spindle.
“I had high expectations for what Mariah could illustrate and she went way beyond them,” Grace praised.
For Mariah, the most engaging part of the process was that she undertook the project that should have taken a year, but was able to do in three months. Each of the book’s 50 pages is partially or fully illustrated by her in loving detail, bringing her sister’s story to life.
She chose to go for a mixed media approach, using watercolour as her base before completing the artwork with pencil crayon, acrylics or whatever else it took to bring out the fine details.
“Because it was in the family, it probably would have cost too much professionally to do it, with the amount of detail and work Mariah put into it,” Grace observed.
“Grace and I, we’ve always been a great team, we’ve always loved doing things together. So, I was able to do my absolute best and just go all out and make it really special,” Mariah said.
With this book, Grace hopes to educate children about where, for thousands of years, all textiles came from. From clothes, ship sails and rich tapestries, all come back to spinning.
“It was nothing more than a weight on a stick, being spun through the air,” Grace said. “I hope they see the magic in the most everyday part is how something so simple can do so many complicated things.”
Indeed, Grace had to teacher sister how to spin so she could properly illustrate the book, something Mariah has found to be quite accessible to all ages. At one point during the story, a character creates a drop spindle out of an apple and a broken arrow shaft. When Mariah asked Grace is this was possible, she happily demonstrated it was with a sharp dowel and an apple.
“Grace basically gave me the story and I said, I love it and I’ll get back to you with my ideas, just correct me on the technical elements. She gave me a lot of room, which is probably what makes me love working with her because she gives me so much creative license to just interpret it the way I like,” Mariah said, Grace adding that the end product was exactly what she envisioned.
The books main antagonist, the Moth Dragon, is based on every spinners worst enemy, the common moth. In real life, these insects eat the wool spinners rely on to make anything and everything. In the book, it kidnaps the Princess and brings her to its lair, covered in cobwebs.
This scene, for both sisters, is their favourite page in the book for its rich visual depiction of the cobwebs and the Princess standing in them. One thing Grace particularly likes about it is that Mariah was able to draw the cobwebs in a non-spooky or creepy way, instead simply portraying a brave and capable princess facing a challenge.
At the book’s end, Grace has included an afterword about the real history of the drop spindle, about how it has been used for millennia and how yarn is made.
She is hopeful that after the bright exciting story they’ve just read, that children will want to try it themselves or at the very least learn more about the craft.
Independently published in September by Grace under Pensignia Publishing, it along with another book written by Grace is available now, though the two have plenty of other ideas for future books.
“I’ve already sold quite a few and so far the children are loving it and the parents are too. If anyone wants it early they can get it at Grace’s Grooming Shop but we’ve been putting all out focus on getting it ready for the Medieval Market,” Grace said. “We will be in the Castle Booth.”
At the Medieval Market this year, in addition to selling their book, Grace and Mariah will be offering hand carved drop spindle kits made by Mariah.