Unfortunately, years of spinning coarser wool 'in the grease', i.e. not washed beforehand, had ill fitted Celtic Memory for the elegance of merino silk roving. Greasy wool is very forgiving indeed to the spinner, allowing long draws and any amount of distraction. With this classy roving, however, you had to have your full concentration in the tips of your fingers the whole time or a broken thread was the result. Which it was, rather too many times. Felt like bundling the whole lot into a bag and forgetting about it, but soldiered on and got a small amount spun eventually.
Monday, April 02, 2007
A 90 Year Old Shows Me How To Knit Socks
It's been busy since last posting. For a start I decided to join The Weekend Whirls, described as 'a spin-a-long for people who believe weekends were made for spinning fibers.' It has been set up by my dear friend Fiberjoy who not only works miracles with fibres - sorry, fibers - on drop spindles of all designs, but is fortunate in having a genius craftsman as a husband in the shape of Ed Jenkins. That's how she gets all these wonderful spindles, of course. I've had a few from her over the past while, and they are a revelation to work with. You should try them.
I joined up, because it's been all too long since I worked with either spindle or spinning wheel. Blogging takes up so much time, and then the knitting - even before Sock Madness (oh help, Wednesday sees the start of Round Three with a new pattern) - and of course there is always the day job to keep in mind. But my little Orkney wheel has been looking mutely reproachful, so perhaps linking into The Weekend Whirls would get me back into the spin of things, so to speak.
I started with a gorgeous roving of merino and silk sent to me by Lyn in Australia. It felt so silky and beautiful in the hand that I could hardly wait to get going on it.
Not a lot for a couple of hours struggling and swearing, but it can only get better. I'll get the hang of this roving stuff somehow. It's so beautiful it has to be my fault. I'll spin up the other half of that roving and ply the two together and then maybe when I see the skein in all its glory, I'll be fired with the desire to do so much better, and better, and better. Maybe.
In the meantime, all you devoted spinners, as well as all you now-and-again spinners, get over there to Weekend Whirls and join yourselves up. See you there.
On Saturday one of my very favourite coffee shops was on the agenda, and it was a fine spring morning to be visiting the Cruiscin Lan in Ballyvourney. The name means Full Jug or Flowing Bowl, depending on whether you prefer the literal or the poetic translation. They're a great gang of bilingualists in there, who will greet you in Irish or English with equal ease. They had promised to procure a big container of vinegar for me, for dyeing purposes (I can only get tiny bottles in the supermarket).
This is Ciara, bringing the vinegar to my table. Hasn't she a lovely smile? I tell you, if you ever visit this corner of the world, you have to try the Cruiscin Lan. Their cakes are delectable, and the coffee has a kick like a mule. Vicki in So Cal, they would be thrilled to bits with your grasp of Irish!
Onwards to Kenmare where I was sitting quietly in Jam and knitting on Mad Cow Mark II when an elderly lady sitting nearby asked what yarn I was using. She was a bit perplexed with the idea of bamboo and cotton (she'd been reared on homespun wool) but perked up when I told her there was a superb wool shop not far away at all. (The word 'yarn' isn't readily understood in Ireland as yet.) Yay, a chance to bring more converts to the mission!
Sheila McCarthy, who is 90 today, was down in Kenmare for the weekend with her daughters who were taking her around and showing her a good time. Can you imagine the reaction of a lady who had knitted all her life, but didn't know of anything but plain wool or perhaps a wool/nylon blend for socks, faced with Colinette, Noro, Debbie Bliss, et al?
That's Sheila with her back to the camera, one of her daughters sitting on the sofa, and Jean, one of the owners, in the middle, explaining how many balls of Debbie Bliss Stella would be required for a sweater.
Sheila, I have to say, was no shy unobtrusive nonogenarian. She'd already ticked me off roundly in Jam for 'knitting all wrong', and when I proved unflappable on that point (time was it would have upset me, but not now, not with all me fine bloggin' pals for support!), grudgingly admitted that I was 'moving along all right anyway.' When she'd done enough looking around and touching and buying, she took my Mad Cow sock, raised her eyebrows at the Magic Loop (but, fair dues to the woman, worked it out within moments), and showed me exactly how knitting should be done.
'You've got to keep that wool twisted round your finger,' she told me sternly. 'Otherwise you won't have the tension.' The row she knitted, smoothly and at speed, was a good bit tighter than I could ever achieve.
I left them there enjoying themselves. I hope they had a great weekend.
On the way home, the celandines were massed on sunny banks, lifting their golden faces to the sun.
and there were drifts of wild violets in sheltered corners.
When I was young, I would always gather the first wild violets to bring to my mother. It's a tradition I still keep: I will take some, cradled in moss and wound with ivy, to her grave tomorrow.