Tuesday, August 08, 2006

From Ladakh to Oregon to Ireland - The Spindle Has Arrived

Gosh, the most exciting news in weeks, months, years, lifetimes! The Ladakhi drop spindle has arrived from Oregon! You may remember that I posted a picture of a Buddhist monk spinning a few weeks ago. Wanda had asked if her husband could try to reproduce it (Jenkins Woodworking, see link on sidebar). I was delighted, since I hadn't been able to buy one when I was in that lofty kingdom some years ago (it's so high that it's difficult to breathe even when walking along the road, but the people are so lovely there that it makes any discomfort wonderfully worthwhile. It's like Tibet once must have been. But don't go if you have respiratory problems or if you get nervous at any distance from luxuries like refrigerators or spas.)

Anyway, I realised that I simply must have the very first Ladakhi spindle created in Oregon and ordered it accordingly. And now it's arrived! We had no post since Friday, as Monday was a bank holiday, and when I got back from shopping this morning there was no mail in the box. Crestfallen. But then when I got to the front door, there was a whole pile of mail, including the long cardboard box from Jenkins! Postie had brought it right up to the door for me. I was so excited I could hardly open it, but eventually I managed and there was my most beautiful, personally created drop spindle in original Ladakhi style.

Isn't it beautiful? The cross arms are made of apple wood and the shaft is ironwood and it came safely secured between two strips of plywood (a good way to send delicate works of art). And Wanda even sent her instruction booklet for spinning Turkish style - the two spindles aren't quite the same but near enough to make the instructions very helpful. I feel so privileged.

I had every intention of getting a picture taken tonight of me spinning by the full moon in the orchard, but wouldn't you know it, the Irish skies immediately decided to go cloudy and I can't see the moon at all. But tomorrow night without fail, my beautiful spindle shall be brought into play.

Now here's a contentious item. I've been working secretly on a crochet motif. I know, I know, the purist knitters among you will turn aside in horror. But all my life I have wanted to create just one perfect evening top in Irish crochet lace. I know perfectly well how to make the motifs - the trouble is there are so many of them needed for the briefest top, and I always got fed up before the final stages. Now, however, with the backing of all of you behind me, I'm going to try once more. Here's the first motif:

This is the rose pattern, with several layers of rose petals that are a b-r to do. All through my childhood I wondered what it would be like if I dared to omit two of the petal layers and eventually tried it on this one. It didn't work. Damn it, it didn't work. The motif demands those three layers. So I conformed. Now I need to make a shamrock motif to match it, and so on, alternating rose and shamrock until I have the shape of alittle sleeveless top (you don't honestly think I'm going to go the distance with a long-sleeved top, do you? Have you any idea how long it takes to make even one of these?) Trouble is, the eventual garment does depend a lot on the size of the individual motif. This one has worked out at 7 inches across which is awkward to work into a chequerboard of motifs for a top. But I'll manage. I'm sure as hell not going to rip it out and start again with a smaller needle. All that work for nothing? You must be joking!

In the midst of all my celebration over the arrival of the Ladakhi spindle, a sudden thought crossed my mind. We are now at August 8, and Bantry Show, if my memory serves me rightly, is in early September. What about that Elann jacket with which I intended to dazzle the judges? Hadn't I better get a move on? The answer is definitely yes. It's not progressed much further since I highlighted it last.

All right, all right, you don't need to go ON about it. I know it hasn't grown much. There were those divine little socks to get on with, and then that trip to Dublin, and that brief affair with the Irish crochet lace.... It's not my fault, so stop looking at me with that knowing expression! I know a few things about your WIP basket you wouldn't like exposed, so don't push me.

No, no, tell me truthfully. I'm sorry, come back, I didn't MEAN it, OK? Look - what do you think my chances are of finishing it within the next four weeks? What? Oh, I'm still on the way out over the shoulders. The instructions say I should measure the distance to the armpits. How can I measure from the neck to the armpits? Isn't the usual route out along the shoulder and down the arm? Am I getting this wrong again? WHAT HAVE ARMPITS TO DO WITH IT? And there are still all those awful increases to do on every wrongside row whenever I meet an increase marker (let's not go into that again, OK?) It's not as if you can cheerfully rattle off a dozen rows while waiting for the kettle to boil. Each row takes blood, sweat, tears (all of which I am giving generously) and concentration (no, not so good on that one). The slightest falter in attention and you find yourself sailing off in entirely the wrong direction, merrily knitting two together where you should have yarn-overed, and increasing where you should have decreased. I'm going to be a wreck before I ever reach those bloody armpits. And then I still have to face into sleeves worked in Milanese lace and points to be finished individually - oh hell, why did I ever start this? It's the loneliness of the long distance lace knitter, no doubt about it.

And I've yielded cravenly on those stitch markers. Now I just keep a large tin, with a lid punctured at regular intervals, and filled with stitch markers, next to the Elann cardi bag. Whenever I feel the need, I just shake the tin over the work in progress and add another few dozen markers. I'm beginning to feel safer with them around. Isn't that the first sign of mental aberration? Yes, I thought it was.

To the comments on my Dublin weekend. Wanda suggested I could surely have taken the sock into the stadium in a less see-through bag. Hey Wanda, I'm not that daft! See that Nikon 300mm lens case? THAT'S how the sock arrived in Croke Park. I only kept it in the plastic case because the rain was bucketing down and I didn't want to wet the Interlacements yarn.

Angeluna sympathised with my search for Dublin yarn and said that on a trip she took, she bought a triptych mirror by way of consolation for the Irish yarn she couldn't find. As she said, you can't pull extra baggage tricks like that these days (although I recently packed back a lil' red wagon from the States - it
looks great at midwinter piled with holly and gifts.) Julia asked if Springwools were not still in existence.
You're absolutely right, Julia, they are there - but Walkinstown is so far outside Dublin that it's another trip really. It wouldn't have been feasible to get out there and back in the time I had. In fact I just might go up there one day and avoid Dublin city traffic altogether by the simple expedient of staying outside.

And for the seventeen thousand, eight hundred and fifty five who enquired, the young man with curly black hair in the hurling picture is Sean Og O'h'Ailpin. Yes, he's still single and available, but you'd better get in line. Most of Ireland's fair young womanhood is after him - not to mention quite a few of the older lassies too. It's the way he swings that hurley...


Anonymous said...

Forgot to congratulate you on Cork's win. Were you waiving that sock-in-the-making wildly??? Sean Og O'h'Ailpin...wish I were just a couple years younger! The only sport I've participated in when in Eire was betting on the horse races, National Cup I believe. The whole country bets, down to the oldest granny. Then you watch at the pub, discussing the soundness of your choices. My friend's deaf- as-a-post 94 year old granny just chose "a pretty name", and she won! She was cheering like a stevedore. I digress, your spindle is fantastic! What a voyage it made, in inspiration and literally. Does one name their spindles??? Please do get photos of spinning in the orchard in the moonlight, however one does that.

rho said...

Oh woman, I am in awe of you once again -- of course I think you can complete the Elan jacket in time for the competition.

But the crochet rose pattern square - OMG -- that is beautiful - you amaze me with your various talents.

I am going to take a picture of my socks progress if you want to check out my little project (in comparison to your fabulous projects) :D

Anonymous said...

Your new spindle looks amazing and I, too, would love to see the moonlight pictures of its progress.
If you can work on that fine crochet lace, then you'll have no problems with the jacket - go for it!

Anonymous said...

Four whole weeks left? Of course you'll finish the jacket. But like Rho, it's the crochet lace that really amazes me.

The image of you shaking stitch markers liberally over your work is priceless.

Eagerly awaiting the photo of moonlit orchard spindling.

Fiberjoy said...

We're so thrilled that the package arrived safe and sound. I can't wait to see a picture of the moonlight spinning.

"Hey Wanda, I'm not that daft! See that Nikon 300mm lens case?" LOL! I should have known that of course you didn't boldly carry it around in the see through.

What types of enteries do the handcraft judges normally see at the fair? Go with what's more likely to be different than the standard fare. I'm with the others in favoring the crochet but if crochet work is more common there then go with the Elan. Both are elegant.

As to your post yesterday: I'd love to see and buy a book that you and Richard created!! Sign Ed & I up for a first printing. :-)

Lynn said...

Kudos to you for being patient enough to work with a drop spindle. I taught myself how, years ago, but I much preferred both the yarn, and the process, when my wheel got into the act.

I will not buy another wheel. I will not buy another wheel. I will not...

Anonymous said...

Exquisite lacework..couldn't you just do a border in it?

Anonymous said...

the spindle is gorgeous! i almost ordered one, but being new to spinding, wanda advised the turkish spindle instead, becasue it is smoother and lighter. we shall see how i do—i never used one!
and jo—that really IS a lot of stitch markers, babe.
i think you are measuring to the underarm because the shaping must be raglan instead of set-in sleeve. when it is as long as it needs to be to fit to the uderarm, you will split that garment into sleeves and body, and it should go much faster from there.
i think you can make it for the bantry show!

the ctochet lace is beautiful . . . i used to do all that lacy crochet, but i waas hurting my hands too much with the fine string and hook. it brought out a "tight" nature in me that i don't show in my kitting. and, i'll never use all those gorgeous doilies i made!

Anonymous said...


Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Sure, Diane, go right ahead. Mind you, I expect fulsome praise of me, my weblog and my incredible ability to finish projects no matter how many are on the go, to all your friends. (If you say it, then maybe the completions will happen...)

Anonymous said...