rag dolls and woollies

rag dolls and woollies

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fairy tales and old hags

This Sleeping Beauty thing really ticks me off. You have to be an incredibly DUMB princess to prick your finger on a spinning wheel! It's just ridiculous. To prick your finger on the guide hooks, you'd have to go out of your way to stick your hand into the spindle itself. To get nailed on a distaff, you'd have to reach up (over your head if you're a small princess) and smack your finger down really hard on the top of it - and you might not be able to draw blood even then.

I tell nervous people to bring a sleeping bag if they're really concerned. But so far it's just my husband who dozes off at the gentle whirring sound.  And he always wakes up when I demand to know if he heard what I just said???

And that nasty old bad fairy hag who sat there at the wheel? Come on. Who are -- and were -- the real spinners? Why NICE people of course!

Generous, good-hearted souls created warmth from wool.  Most spinners I've met are sweet and actually rather modest people.  In older times, moms sat at the wheel while the little kids toddled around nearby. When my guys were just learning to walk, they used to pull themselves to standing by hanging on to the frame of the spinning wheel, and then give me lopsided, triumphant grins through the spokes.

Nobody stuck their hands into the moving parts of the wheel....well, not more than once or twice. And then it didn't hurt very much.  And I would stop the wheel just as quickly as possible, of course. And kiss their soft little fingers.

OK. OK.  I let it happen a couple times so they'd get the message and let me spin.

But the the truth is that wheels are -- and had to be -- child friendly. And they are also sturdy little things as well. My Ashford would get knocked over by kids and I'd pick it up and just keep going.  My Joy wheel takes an awful lot of abuse because it goes to demonstrations with me. It gets slammed on the door of the car as I shove it in the back seat, banged going up stairs, and bumped into walls when I'm in a hurry. Ashford Factory: Know This -- after more than 10 years, it is in great shape.(They're not paying me to say this by the way.)

So we spinners are nice folks,  just trying to keep the family warm. Yeah, there are fancy, schmancy designer yarns out there to spin, but isn't most of your spinning for the comfort of other people's ears, fingers and toes? The old hag routine just doesn't cut it with me.

And what about Rumpelstiltskin? He was a piece of work. That nasty little...well, so-and-so...used his spinning abilities to rip off this poor girl and ultimately try to steal her baby! Oh, come on.

REAL spinners use their skills to make beautiful yarns. Soft, airy woolen spun. Sleek, shiny worsteds. If they covet anything it's not other people's babies, it's the next gorgeous fleece, handfuls of alpaca or silk or bamboo. I do anyway. My friend Estee and I realized one day how we must have sounded to an FBI agent tapping our phone....

"I have a friend coming in from Nebraska with some fabulous stuff," she told me one day on the phone. "Can we get any of it?" I wanted to know. "Not sure," she said. "I going to have to go through some local people in order to contact her."  "OK, and be sure to find out how much she wants for a pound," I urged..

It sounded like a drug deal. And spinners readily admit their addiction! My current one is Cormo - have you tried it? Another spinning friend of mine says it looks like whipped cream. It's true. And it is so soft. I heard that the Japanese buy the entire Australian clip each year to make baby clothes out of it. I've been making Lorraine Goddard's nice Gansey bootee pattern (on Ravelry) out of Cormo and they're soft and squishy, partly because of all the nice thick stitches she designed into them.

So my watchword is - fight the Sleeping Beauty/Rumpelstiltskin rap whenever you get the chance. But don't just wait for the subject to come up --bring it up even when nobody else is talking about it -- I do.


  1. i used to raise cormo. still one of my favorites!

  2. dear Hoboknitter, I have only ever babysat sheep, never had my own. I'd love to try cormo someday..