Had a really nice happening here recently. Deirdre (still blogless, but on Ravelry as Deedledum) contacted me about a group getting together in the village of Ballinagree, some five or so miles from me, on Wednesday nights. Spinning, no less! So I tucked the little Orkney into the passenger seat of the jeep, fastening its safety belt carefully, and headed off.
Bumpy and twisty are the roads 'twixt Macroom and Ballinagree, and even those of us accustomed to the corkscrewing of laneways originally designed and built by wandering cows can find it difficult to navigate on a dark evening with mist drifting and eddying in the headlights. On more than one occasion I was grateful of the tight belt holding little Orkney safe.
But we got there in the end. And look at this wonderful sight! (It might not seem unusual to those of you in more enlightened countries, but here in Ireland, where the prejudice against traditional crafts is still rampant, you can take it from me that it is indeed wonderful.) That's Deirdre, who's teaching the spinning session, on the left there, trying out the bright blue wheel (which, she says, works surprisingly well considering the layers of paint that had been slapped on it by someone more interested in a decoration than a working wheel, and next to her is Nora who told me that her life's ambition is to have a large and happy group in Ballinagree practising all kinds of crafts, from spinning and weaving to knitting, crochet, felting and whatever turns them on. Good for you, Nora! You deserve success and I for one am going to do all I can to help. On the right is Nora's sister, Eileen, who is eager to learn the magic of turning fleece into fibre. I think the blue wheel is Nora's, the others were brought by the very helpful and extremely enabling Deirdre (who spent three years in New Zealand, much of it in a spinning guild, so she knows more than most of us here about the craft). That's my Haldane Orkney on the right in front.
It's the very first time I've had a happy evening with other fibre fanatics right here in my home region and I hope it is the first of many such.
There was another pleasant surprise. Nora turned out to be someone I'd been trying to track down for a couple of years, ever since I'd heard that a local farm was going into the breeding of alpacas. It was Nora and her husband, no less! What is more, believe it or not, she pressed upon me a large bagful of alpaca clip. 'We're breeding them to sell to people who want to deal in selling the fibre, not do that ourselves,' she explained, 'and I'd be happy to know that someone was making use of this. You're welcome to it.'
Readers, what would you have done? Probably the same as me - sunk to your knees in giddy gratitude while reaching out to close your fists on the sack of fibre with a Kildare man's grip. When the evening was over (home-made cakes and tea!), I bore it home in triumph.
Sitting down by the fire and telling DH of the evening's events, I heard a strange thumping noise in the corner where I'd left the sack. Surely to heaven there hadn't been a small farm animal or pest inadvertently left inside it? We went to investigate.
Somebody had unerringly scented the air, registered a new arrival, and set out to track it down. Muffy the Yarnslayer rides again!
'Muffy, come out here this instant,' I called sternly (ineffectually trying to restrain the laughter).
What? I'm busy here!
She rushed in again. In fact she disappeared entirely, and thumps, crashes, bangs came from inside the sack. Then quite suddenly she burst into view, eyes blazing, teeth bared, fragments of blameless, innocent alpaca fleece clenched in her jaws.
Will you look at the cut of that? Should this dog be labelled Pernicious Pekingese - Handle With Care, or not?
Yes, the precious sack of alpaca is on a safely high shelf now, awaiting preparation. There is a goodish amount of both white and that nice light brown in there. Any advice on how to prepare for spinning would be welcomed. Up to now, I've only seen alpaca in elegant combed top or final yarn form. And on the original owner of course. This early on in the spinning game is entirely new to me.
The passion for spinning has been quite revived in fact chez Celtic Memory. Many years ago it was lived, dreamed, fantasised, worked on nonstop. Then other aspects of fibrecraft took over again for a while. Now it's spinning's turn again and about time too. The little Orkney wheel was feeling neglected. And lonely.
Which is the reason I've just thought up for justifying buying it a companion. An enchanting little Kromski, all the way from Poland, carved by traditional craftsmen. The Mazurka, to be precise.
This is Mr. Kromski's picture, not mine. I took it from his website. But isn't that a fairytale little wheel? Wouldn't you want it in your sitting room?
I've ordered mine through the lovely Margie at Moondance Wools in the Scottish Borders. Hope it gets here soon, Margie - and don't forget to send me some samples of your fibres too. I can foresee lots of Net purchasing activity in the months to come. In the meantime, Celtic Memory is on tenterhooks (a good weaving term, that!) for baby Mazurka to arrive. What should she be called? Angeluna, you're the expert on the Almanach de Gotha. Got any good Polish nobility names? Something that calls up the image of an exquisite lady spinning and singing softly to herself in the solar of her castle?
Maybe I should make her a little mat, or a little quilt or something, to welcome her arrival? What do you think?
The weather is generally mizrubble here at the moment, typical for November, with rain and wind predominating. Had a window of opportunity yesterday, with a few hours of sunshine, so skeined and washed some of that lovely rare Italian mousse fingering weight for nice gift kits I've put on eBay tonight.
The idea is to provide two complementing colourways in one nice little toning fabric project bag, for people to either give as a gift or use to create gifts for the holiday season. As is, this yarn makes heavenly lacy scarves and shawls; doubled, it's divine for neckwarmers and hats. I've put 600m of each of the two colours in the bags. 1200 metres should be enough for most things, shouldn't it? From left to right, they are Moss & Lichen, Spice Market, Woodsmoke, and Blue Lagoon.
Here's Blue Lagoon in its kit bag. You can't quite see, but the bag has little carry handles in the same material. Sweet. I've called them Merino Mousse Medley Kits. (Ed, later: Changed that to Shawl/Scarf Kits, as I thought that might make it easier to find for those hunting for such things.)
Must go write up some pieces for tomorrow. And work a little on the Noro cardigan (third time of frogging, fourth and hopefully last time of knitting), do a little more spinning on that nice Blue Faced Leicester from Craftspun Yarns, and catch up on some reading.
Yikes, have you realised that Yuletide is almost round the corner? And Celtic Memory vowed she'd be well ahead this year...