Oh happy day! My new swift arrived from The Handweaver's Studio in London. You will remember that it had to follow on by post, along with the dyes I chose, as modern airport restrictions don't allow such indulgences as awkwardly-shaped parcels in cabin baggage. Indeed, even if I had been insane enough to opt for checked in luggage (and if you have seen the queues at Stansted Airport recently, you would be justified in calling me insane), such a delicate piece of craftwork as this could not be trusted to baggage handlers. No, I would have had to buy it a seat for itself, as musicians sometimes do. And that might have cost more than the postage.
Anyway, it arrived all fresh and happy and undamaged (thanks, Handweavers, for the careful packaging) and was immediately set to work. As it is coming up to the festive season (I know, I know, I'm the only one who noticed, the rest of you were busily tidying up the autumn and looking forward to the spring), I had some of my special shawl kits to make up for eBay. These kits contain a good 800m of one mousse yarn, and 200 of a toning shade, and until now every single inch (centimetre?) has had to be wound on a niddy-noddy. Tough on the arms and also on the knuckles, which tend to get rapped with painful regularity by one end or another of the niddy noddy. So I was very pleased to see the new swift. Even took the trouble to make a clear and visible mark on the shaft so that a full 2 metres can be wound on each circuit.
Here it is, working happily away on the red shawl kit, with the blue and the green already skeined up and ready to tuck into their little star-spangled gauzy bags. I love this merino mousse yarn - it's about fingering weight, so a little thicker and warmer than fine laceweight, and with the most seductive soft velvety texture - like chenille without the heaviness. It makes wonderful shawls, especially when you use the contrast yarn for a stripe or edging. Go and look at them on eBay - they're under the Celtic Memory tag in the Wool and Yarn section comme d'habitude. Or if you haven't time, here are the plump little gift bags all packed up.
Aren't they cute? I find myself rather wanting to keep them safe and cosy here with me, even though I'm the one who made them up so in theory I could create my own shawl kit any day of the week. However, I find consolation in thinking that they will make ideal gifts for somebody somewhere.
I still do treasure my little antique swift, but have to admit that the new one makes far shorter work of skeining up a major yardage. All that is needed now is some kind of counter so that track can be kept of the number of metres wound. As it is, a shrieking dog, a telephone call or someone at the gate can wipe the figures totally from the Celtic Memory brain - and have you ever tried counting three hundred and fifty (or was it forty-nine?) fine threads on a swift? DH is currently working out the technological possibilities on this one and we will keep you posted. In the meantime, advice is welcomed.
As usual, December is moving on at increasing speed and, as they used to say in old Ireland, 'not a child in the house washed.' So many things intended to be done and not done yet. Decorations aren't up, greenery not entwined around everything in sight. It isn't Midwinter until the holly and ivy are bringing their fresh fragrance to the house. Gifts to finish knitting (heavens, haven't started Muffy the Yarnslayer's washcloth yet). Tons of copy to write, so that hard-pressed editors and subs can prepare their pages in advance and get home for some holiday too. The food supplies to consider (unlike the United States, most shops close down here for several days in late December and it behoves the canny housewife to stock up in advance). Mince pies for the postman. The list is endless. Next year I really must start earlier - maybe in June?
Planning to go somewhere rather special this Friday. Somewhere with vast and silent spaces, glittering skies and deep forests. Somewhere very close to the heart of Midwinter. Just for one day. For a fix of emptiness and natural beauty. Yes, of course I'll bring it all back for you too. Have I ever failed to do so?