A baby boomer who’s still home spun

Some of us live in the present. Some of us live in the past. And some of us live in the present but hold onto the past. That’s how it is for baby boomer Kandi Maxwell, who lives in a community called Brownsville in the foothills of northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and writes for BoomerCafé about her yen for the styles of the sixties.

I sip on a latte at a trendy, over-priced bakery and espresso bar. Hand-crafted breads and home-made sweets fill large glass cases. No coffee shops dwell in my own mountain-home community, so I drive about an hour to get here to meet my young friend Andi.

Not long after I settle into the cafe’s yuppie vibe, I see Andi through the large glass window. Her short brown hair pokes out of a hand-crocheted, open-top beanie. She wears an embroidered cotton hippie-shirt over velvety-brown bell bottoms. Her ears are adorned with carved-wood, wing-shaped earrings. A pair of leather pixie-shoes cover her feet.

Kandi Maxwell at home in northern California.

One look at my friend and my mind travels back to an old photo of me forty-some years ago. In the picture I wear hooped earrings, leather huarache sandals, an embroidered peasant shirt, bell bottoms. Andi, at thirty, is a millennial-hipster. Now, I’m a 64-year-old woman whose mind and style is still stuck in the 1960’s. Andi likes linen bags, hemp skirts, home-grown duds. Even though our age-range is wide, we both want folksy, earth-friendly clothes.

She works for a shop that sells clothing made of organic cottons, linens, and hemp. Today, she brings me a bag of tribal-print leggings. I search through the earthy colors of rose, brown, and beige. I pick out a pair of rose. The fabric feels soft on my fingers. I comment on Andi’s velvety bell bottoms …

“Would you like to have a pair made for you?” she asks. “You can give me a pair of your jeans for the fit.”

“Yeah,” I say, feeling younger already. I ignore those ads that tell you what you should never wear after 60. I want to dress like this woman not half my age. I want to dress like I dressed, 40 years ago.

We put the clothing aside and eat our lunch. Andi tells me, “I want to learn how to spin wool. A friend has offered to teach me. And maybe I can learn to weave, too.”


Her voice is full of enthusiasm and I remember how, as a young mother, I found pleasure in carding wool, the feel of lanolin moistening my hands, its faint sheep-smell. I can still see the wool simmering in a tea of turmeric, dying it an earthy yellow.

“Bummer,” I say. “I recently sold my spinning wheel and wool-brushing carders. I wish I would have kept them to gift to you.” For years, my spinning supplies sat in the barn, while we still had sheep in the fields, bags overflowing with fleece. Long hours of teaching took me away from the craft. Now my friend reignites the passion to sit at my looms, weaving intricate patterns through their warps. Maybe I’ll make some fiber-coiled baskets or a cool-looking cap.

Already imaging a project, I can’t wait to get home and search through boxes for skeins of organic, hand-spun wool.

The post A baby boomer who’s still home spun appeared first on


Text Size