Monday, April 03, 2006

Dolores Calls in Two Favors

I came home Saturday evening to what is now a familiar sound: Dolores shouting back at "The McLaughlin Group" on Channel 11, and occasionally throwing popcorn at Pat Buchanan.

There's no speaking to her while the show is on, so I headed into the kitchen to fix myself a long, tall chocolate milk (tip: use a martini shaker–it's fab) and let my teeth unclench. We had "other duties as assigned this weekend," and I was wound up like a violin string braced for Mahler.

"So," came a voice from the living room, "Don't say hello or anything."

"You always hiss at me when I do," I said.

"Today is different. I got you something. And I'm not dragging it in there."

The last time Dolores said she "got me something," she meant she'd stuffed all my rather conservative wool suits into a sack for the charity shop and filled up my closet with sherbet-colored Italian silks with funny shoulders. I headed for the living room.

"What is it?" I said, trying to sound calm.

"Let's see if you can guess," she said, chucking a few unpopped kernels at Pat's wide-open mouth.

I was about to comment on the state of the rug when I spotted this next to the chair I usually sit in to knit.



"Who does that belong to?" I said, when I could find my voice.

"To you, if you want it," she said. "And you'd better, it was no picnic getting it here."

"You got me a spinning wheel!" I screamed.

"As ever," she said, "Your grasp of the obvious is astonishing."

"You got me a spinning wheel!"

"You're blocking the television," said Dolores.

I sat down and gave the treadle a tentative push with my foot. The drive wheel obligingly spun around, and the flyer gave off a pleasant little whirr. I felt my eyes filling up.

"Dolores...I just...how did you..."

"Spare me," she said. "I'm just sick of you disappearing into the bathroom with the Ashford catalogue for hours. That door is pretty thin."

"But..."

"It's used," she said. "And it's an older model. But it should work. Somebody in New Zealand owed me a favor. I'd tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you."

I pointed a large, fluffy pile of white in the corner.

"Is that...?"

"From my sister in Vermont," she said. "Rolag. Two pounds. She owed me a favor, too. Just watch out for the split ends. The way Olive abuses that goddamn blow dryer you'd think it was 1978."

At that point, Eleanor Clift came on and every time I tried to speak Dolores just raised a hoof in my direction. So I sat down, and pulled out the corriedale/montadale from Susan that I'd been using on the spindle, and I spun.

First Fiber

All the practice on the spindle seems to have been a good idea. I wouldn't expose my spindle-made yarn to public view (one has one's little vanities), but the making of it did give me a visceral experience of the spinning process. I'm glad it's how I began, much as I'm glad I began making photographs with a relatively simple camera. A limited mechanism forces you to learn by making nothing easy for you. Your hands and eyes and mind must engage, because otherwise nothing happens. For me, in any case, this is and always has been the way to go.

The first thing I had to test for myself is whether Margeurite's spinning song from Faust, "Il était un roi de Thulé," really works to keep you treadling evenly. It does. I'll have to test the spinning song from Der Fliegende Höllander later, as my German is far from what it ought to be.

There were jerks and epithets at first, but things are now spinning smoothly and I made this:



According to all my written authorities, it's not bad. Reasonable consistency, doesn't snarl up in the orifice, doesn't pull apart. Upon close examination, even Dolores conceded that it "doesn't completely suck nine kinds of ass."

Perhaps I'm imagining it, but I think she's warming up a little.

57 comments:

David said...

I can't wait until you post about spinning flax into gold. Just don't prick your finger.

Cortster said...

Oh, my goodness! Congratulations, Franklin, on the happy addition to your home! It's soooo exciting to get one's first wheel, isn't it?

Wow, nice spun singles you have there! Your first time? Wow, again!

So, everyone's suspicions were true! You are -- truly -- a natural born spinner!

Leslie said...

If you shear Delores...

Well, I'm certain you won't, so I refuse to let my sick mind go there.

ambermoggie said...

watch out Franklin she is trying to bribe you into letting her become a permanent resident. It'll be her winter fleece next as "just a little something I slipped out of"

Rachel H said...

Just when we're all getting concerned about Dolores taking advantage of your kind and gentle nature, she goes and does this. That girl sure likes to keep us guessing, doesn't she? Classy move there, D. As soon as I have an alcoholic beverage in my hand this evening, I shall toast you appropriately.

Obviously, you were meant to be a spinner. Great Job, Franklin.

dan said...

There you go. From here on out, it'll be the whrrr, whrrr, whrrr coming from your living room. Congratulations on the Traditional addition to your household. From another Traditional user, I can vouch for years of happy spinning.

Ted said...

Very nice, Franklin. I'm very happy for you. (Even though you'll probably never touch a suspended spindle again. Another spinner abandoning the tool. [sniff])

Do you know which breed the 2 pounds of white fluffy stuff came from?

cat said...

OMG lucky you. I am sooooo jealous

Sally said...

Oh Franklin! What a wonderful surprise! That Dolores is just full of surprises, isn't she? You are doing beautiful work----wow!!! I am speechless.....

msubulldog said...

Now THAT makes her much easier to put up with!

Windsornot said...

Way cool, Franklin! Congrats! I have to say, between you and two friends who also spin, I have been inspired to pick this up and learn. I have my first drop spindle and roving on it's way in the mail as we speak. I have to agree, I think when you take on a new skill, it's good to start with the simpler ways and work your way up. You know, that Dolores, despite her tough facade, is probably an old softy deep down under all that wool. Just don't let on that you are onto that. She'd probably get pretty pissed at that getting out there. ;-) The new spun yarn looks great so far!

Holly @Home said...

O.M.G Mum is crying ..she always ewe Dolores had a heart of gold .You so deserve it Franklin..please ask Dolores to throw much harder things at Pat ..only in person not at your T.V .If she played it right what conspiracy nut is gonna say "a sheep did it"

Lisa said...

Oh, Franklin...Congratualtions! What will you knit with all this handspun goodness?

Cortster said...

Actually, this is more for Ted. I found that getting a spinning wheel actually made me want to do more on my drop spindle. Go figure. I like to bring some spinning with me and, well, can't do that with my wheel. ;)

I'm also finding that improving my skills on one results in improvement on the other. A big thank you goes to YOU, Ted, for your instructional material on your blog!

Have you been to his blog yet, Franklin? I'm embarrassed to admit that it never occurred to me to predraft roving until I read Ted's descriptions.

Jeni said...

Oh, it's beautiful! Congratulations on your spinning AND the wheel. Can't wait to see more fiber porn ;)

BTW, does this mean now you owe HER a favor???

Susan said...

"... wound up like a violin string braced for Mahler."

I love that expression and will be over using it immediately. I can't wait to lay it on my DH who is a music teacher.

Thanks for keeping me laughing Franklin!

Karen said...

Congratulations and welcome to the addictive world of spinning! It took me three months to spin anything as nice as your first effort. BTW, there's also a good spinning song in Gilbert & Sullivan's "Yeomen of the Guard" Act I, sung by the Alto lead - I forget the character's name.

Isela: Purling Sprite said...

D is a keeper! She knows how to get you all excited, now don't you go shearing her in the middle of the night.

Daphne said...

Hm, weird, I dreamed about spinning last night. Last time I read the Harlot before sleep. But that's a tangent from what I wanted to say, which is, you'll probably want to avoid spinning to the Group... I tend to find myself fucking up lace patterns beyond belief, throwing down needles and yelling at my sweetie during the program. Which I love. The program, not the me yelling part.

Amanda said...

Your singles look great! It's good to see Delores is finally starting to pay her dues, too.

Jon said...

I think I'm more interested in Delores's politics than anything else. What's her take on illegal immigration?

And if your spinning didn't suck 9 kinds of ass, did it suck any ass?

Anonymous said...

A comment at the end of today's entry really caught me off guard. What kind of orifice do you have to stuff yarn into? I'll be puzzling over that the rest of the day. One learns so much on the Internet.

Funny you should mention the Flying Hollandaise. I was listenting to that over the weekend and fondly recalling the evening when you and I saw it together. I'm kinda glad Ms D wasn't there that night. During the spinning song she probably would have been saying "they're doing it all wrong" the whole time.

T in SP

Sweet Caroline said...

Now that you have a spinning wheel, and your parents live in Central Indiana, there's no reason preventing you from attending the Putnam County Fleece Fair this Saturday in Greencastle, Indiana. Lots of fleece, roving, fleece, fiber animals, fleece, yarns, patterns, books, tools and, uh, fleece.

Besides, Dolores needs to have your apartment to herself this weekend. (You might want to box up the breakables.)

Lee Ann said...

See? See?!?

I don't know whether to worry along with Ted (although the wheel didn't make me forsake my spindles, but I had rockin' Bosworth spindles, which no one should ever forsake), die laughing, or congratulate you on wheel plus beautiful job done.

I think I'll do all three, minus the dying part.

--Deb said...

Way to go, Dolores! Gosh, I'm getting all teary, here . . . It looks like you're doing great, Franklin!

Guido said...

Wow... nice wheel.

I just wanted to say that I also use a martini shaker for choclate milk, but this is actually a milk shake... not choclate milk.

That thing with the ice cream in it is a frappe... or so the locals in Boston tell me.. :)

Maggie said...

Beautiful wheel! Congratulations and happy spinning!

obxparrot said...

So, you think Dolores is warming up to you!?! I think she has someehing hidden under her fleece. I don't think she will let you forget this one! In the meantime, take advantage of it and enjoy; congratulations. The spinning looks great.

Ann said...

that ol' softy...

Laurel said...

Oh my goodness that is a beautiful wheel! And the spinning isn't bad, either ;-)

Dave Daniels said...

Congratulations, and welcome to The Other Side! You'll find it hard to tear yourself away.

Joe said...

Congrats my friend...I can just picture you sitting at your wheel with the same silly grin I had when you last saw me.

Remember to stretch every once in a while. I found I'd have been in the same position for four hours and at my age, it wasn't pretty.

The Purloined Letter said...

Congratulations on that beautiful gift! Rumor has it around here that my own pet sheep may be giving me one for my birthday at the end of the month. (Ironically, my sheep asks for chocolate milk when my partner and I are drinking martinis.) Keep spinning such lovely yarn so you can teach all of us newbies!

Rana said...

*chanting softly* Fleece Fair, Fleece Fair, Fleece Fair....

*grin*

Carrie K said...

What a nice sheep Dolores is.

Rabbitch said...

I almost cried. Congratulations!

And your spinning only sucks three kinds of ass. You're doing well.

I'll just run away now, shall I? Yes, good plan ...

Leslie (the Southern one) said...

O Frabjous day! Calloo callay!

Fyberduck said...

your yarn looks fabulous! just wait for the true addiction to set it. next you'll be sighing over drum carders.

What I want is more info on the spinning songs ;)

Nancy J said...

You're a natural! You'll just love spinning! A whole new obsessive world (but D. had better be careful or you might try to spin her while she's watching a particularly engrossing program!)

Judith in Ottawa said...

Congratulations, bubbie! Take heart, yours is a little younger than my circa 1975 Ashford Traditional, but I get the impression they're like old Singer sewing machines: it's harder to get it NOT to work.
Do have fun!

Sneaksleep said...

I second what Southern Leslie said. What lovely fiber! I'll have my fingers crossed for you that this isn't just Dolores's way of making sure you owe her in the future...

Sean said...

I can't help but chuckle at the word "orafice." LOL!

I can't wait to see what you do with this wheel!

Nancy said...

Congratulations! My first wheel was a Traddie. But my first yarn didn't look anywhere NEAR that consistent.

Yarn stores? We don't need no steenkin' yarn stores!

Joanna said...

I am very impressed, ..... but worried, if I do get it spindle am I going to be obsessed with getting a wheel so soon?

Well done, Delores is a doll!

Mama Lu said...

A very nice style for you, Franklin, classical, but streamlined, with none of the turnings and folderols you see on a lot of wheels. The only fancy style of wheel that I really covet is the French frame wheel--very elegant. Every so often I go to the French eBay site and search for "rouet," just to look at them

Riin said...

Well, Dolores can be a nice sheep when she wants to be. Wow. As for shearing, I imagine she might want a haircut when it's 98F outside...but she'll probably go to some expensive stylist who owes her a favor so she'll end up looking beautiful. If you're lucky she'll let you have the wool.

Nice spinning. Took me weeks to get my yarn that even.

dhi said...

Well, that was a short slippery slope, wasn't it? ;-)

And could you please confess to the group something that you DON'T do well? Paper-quilling? Balancing the checkbook? Folding laundry? ANYTHING?

And Joanna, yes. Be worried.

AngeliasKnitting said...

That Dolores! What a great gift. Can't wait to see more spinning results.

Vicki Stammer said...

Franklin, I just received an email from Interweave via which I found a link to some spinning pdf's at http://www.interweave.com/spin/resources/
spinning_brochures.asp

I have no idea whether or not these will insult your current level of expertise, but I wanted you to have access to them.

Hope they prove useful to you. Adore your writing, art, and audio presentations.

Regards to the darling Ms. D.

vts

Franklin said...

Vicki - it's impossible to insult my current level of expertise, because it's well- nigh nonexistent. I can use all the help I can get. Thanks for the link ;-)

CateK said...

My mum is thinking about getting me a wheel for my birthday or Christmas. I think her plan is for me to keep her in yarn... but I'm quit excited about it. You are such a fortunate soul. Please give Delores a back rub. I'm sure she would appreciate it.

dragon knitter said...

YEEEEEEEEEEHAWWWWWWWW!. another one sucked in!

*evil chuckle*

Liz said...

Oh, congratulations! How wonderful! Your spun yarn looks pretty good, there, too. Enjoy.

Marlene said...

Congratulations on the new (to you) wheel. I started on an Ashford too.....seems to be from about the same period as mine.

GAndyS said...

If you learn about tension and ratios you'll be spinning the gossamer for your own lace in no time! Cheers!
http://shuvani11.livejournal.com/

sahara said...

I'm jealous! I have a wheel for bulky yarn, a spindle, wool, and no one to teach me. There's supposed to be a "spin-out"(!) in Central Park on the 24th. I don't know. Maybe I'll luck out.

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