There was a brief period, a few days ago, when there was absolutely no wool to knit with in this house. Ben’s socks were cast off and the basket was empty. The little knits were over and the autumn knits – the big ones for the children – are only half dreamed up. Patterns are chosen, but the wool hasn’t been – and most likely won’t be until we go to the fair again in September. That funny time between the end of one project and the start of another is sometimes so exciting. At other times, like last week, it makes for restless hands. It’s not as if I have nothing to do. There’s an old jumper which needs unravelling and reknitting just a little shorter. But that’s just not as enticing as something novel, something different, something fresh.
Fortunately, Ida had something new planned for me. A while ago, when we went over to Skipton to visit her for her birthday, she had asked me whether I might be interested in a spinning wheel. The answer was a foregone conclusion, and little bits and pieces have been coming my way over the past few weeks. A pair of carders. A drop spindle. The promise of a fleece. And then, via Mother, a package from Auntie Flo full of Irish tweed roving.
I always seem to end up trying new things when my children have their friends round. Heavens knows what they make of it: Fliss’ mother walking around the house with her arms stretched high above her head and a slightly uncontrollable spindle twirling down below. It was all a bit frustrating, at first, but then suddenly it stopped being roving wound around a stick and became something akin to wool. Whisper thin in places, definitely the wrong side of chunky in others, but knittable. It grew more even as I went on – and I did go on, all evening, until I’d spun the whole lot – so that whatever I end up making will be quite different from end to end. Those little flecks of colour didn’t really, on the whole, get spun into the yarn. But I rather like them, and am inexperienced enough to hope that they disguise some of the wobbles as well as adding to their number.
By the end of the following day the product was finished – washed, bashed and wound into a very artisan looking ball of wool. I have no idea what to make with it. The lavender on the landing suggests knitted pouches to present the sachets in. Autumn, just peeping over the horizon, is putting in a vote for woolly corsages. We’ll see. I’m not in a hurry anymore, and the restlessness has gone. There’s a ball of wool in my basket, so I can start knitting again whenever I feel the urge. Just now, though, I really want to keep getting better at making wool. And as spinning seems too grand a word for for my total lack of skill, I think I’ll call it twirling.