Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Welcome to the Fold

And Dolores Makes Four

On Saturday morning, I got up early, showered and dressed, and slipped quietly to the front door. Not quietly enough.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" said a voice behind me.

I turned and saw this.

"Well now," I said. "You're all dressed up."

"Yeah," said Dolores. "These are traveling clothes. You know, such as one would wear when travelling."

In the elevator I noticed her brooch had a lock of long blond hair in it. She caught me looking.

"Rod Stewart," she said.

"Why do you–" I started.

"I'm not allowed to tell you under the terms of the settlement," she said.

A Field Trip

We set off to Oak Park, and the charming home of Meg and Jonathan, the Two Sock Knitters. If they were startled to find two guests, instead of one, on the doorstep, they were much too polite to say so.

Our ultimate destination was The Fold, a spinning shop in Marengo, Illinois–about as far west of the city as I think I've ever been. I'd never been there, but Jonathan and Meg had, and from their descriptions it was like Shangri-La, only with a better selection of spinning wheels.

Jonathan drove, Meg worked a frog sock, and Dolores fell asleep. As the city sprawl gradually disappeared we turned into genuine countryside, complete with farm fields and big stands of trees, and even the occasional horse. We turned off the highway on to a smaller road, then an even smaller road, then an itty-bitty road, and we were there.

"Dolores," I said. "Dolores, get up."

She sat up, looked out the car window and frowned. "Where are we?" she said.

"At the Fold."

"The what?"

"The Fold. The spinning shop."

"Spinning shop? What the hell are you, Amish? I thought we were going to a casino. You kept whispering on the phone about fun at the wheel."

"Spinning wheel. Not roulette wheel."

"Fuck. I gotta get my hearing checked."

"Well, look, " I said, "There's a whole flock of sheep over there. You can hang out with them if you don't want to look in the shop."

"Fab," said Dolores, waddling off toward the pen. "This will be some hot time. Hey, girls, what the hell do you do for kicks around here?"

"I'm a little worried," said Meg.

"We'll be fine," I said. "As long as there are no particularly good-looking farmhands in the vicinity."

The Fold lived up to its description. There are two sections to it: a yarn portion, into which I did not allow myself to step (though Meg quite a frolic in there); and a spinning portion, where the wool is stacked literally to the ceiling, and spinning wheels of sizes from teeny to titanic crowd the floor. If you prefer a hand spindle, there's a wall of them. A wall.

I was so dazzled I hardly knew where to start. Happily, I'd made a list beforehand and Toni, the owner, led me gently around to the things I needed. Niddy noddy, oil can, bobbins, tensioned lazy kate, orifice hook. All handsome and sturdy, all at fair prices. Toni herself is the model of what a shop owner ought to be: knowledgeable, patient, enthusiastic, and able to make everybody in the room feel like she's been waiting expectantly all day just for them.

Jonathan, meanwhile, had been exploring the wools. Blue-faced leicester caught his attention, and Toni sat him down to try it out.

I envied his skill. The guy spins like champ. The blue-faced leicester looked dreamy, flowing easily out of the fiber mass. Toni saw me drooling and suggested I try out a wheel.

Now, I'd never spun in front of anybody else who could spin, let along somebody who makes a living at it. I felt my face go red, but before I really knew what was happening Toni had me sitting in front of an Ashford Elizabeth with my own length of leicester. After a couple of deep breaths and a very embarrassing bad start, my nerves relaxed and everything went all spinny - in a good way.

From the Elizabeth, I moved on to a Lendrum Saxony. Toni suggested I try it when she noticed that I draw with my left hand. The model in the shop had a right hand orifice, and she thought it might be more comfortable for me. She was right. The wheel was so much fun to play with it qualifies as a sex toy.

But did she pressure me to buy it? No. Quite the contrary. She told me to stick with my Ashford Traditional for now. "Practice, learn, and shop around for a long time. Try lots of different wheels. Don't rush it. When the time comes for you to get a new wheel, you'll know it."

I could have stayed all day. I think we all could have. But with great reluctance we totalled up our damage and headed for the car. Dolores was still hanging around in the sheep pen.

"Time to go," I called.

"Oh, gee," said Dolores. "What a shame. We were just about to start a game of strip poker."

Back in the car, Jonathan asked Dolores if she'd had a nice time.

"Swell," she said. "I haven't been around such an exciting bunch since the last time I went to a Methodist funeral. Can we stop somewhere for a drink? I'm fresh out."

"We're going to have tea with Meg and Jonathan before we go back into the city."

"Tea? Oh God," she said, closing her eyes and lying back on the seat. "Please tell me that's just a euphemism."

[I'm indebted to Meg for taking these pictures, and to Jonathan for sending them to me. You're the best.]


Jax said...

I am deeply, deeply jealous.

I also have an idea. We're going to ship Dolores off to southern Minnesota to visit my Aunt Faye. Let's just say those two are soul mates. Faye's rum balls are illegal in three states; despite glaucoma and arthritis, she drives one of those little mobility carts at breakneck speeds, smokes like a chimney, and still quilts. She'll show Dolores around the Indian casinos, where they can eat free and play the slots. You can have peace to play with all those new toys.

And really now--you're gonna shoot me--but that picture of you spinning reminds me of Ben Kingsley as Ghandi, spinning away on his charka.

dan said...

The Fold will have to be my next fiber related destination/mecca... I mean, look at all of the fiber! Thanks for sharing the pics and experience.

David said...

The fourth Musketeer always gets what she deserves.

Nelly Olsen said...

Niddy noddies, orifices, sex toys . . . you knitters are certainly a wild and woolly bunch.

Hockey Mom said...

Mr. Franklin, sir? Would you please add travelling Delores to the Cafe Press site? She would be perfect to wear to Maryland. Please?

Julie said...

Ah, you've been to The Fold. Great place, huh? The Lendrum Saxony is my dream wheel, very smooth.

It's always an experience going out to Marengo!

pacalaga said...

You didn't go into the yarn shop where they have all the SOCKS THAT ROCK??????
Love the spinning pics. I had no interest in spinning, but lately I've been thinking, and wondering what my little pitbull mix (Fluffy) would do if an alpaca moved into the yard...

pacalaga said...

By the way, I had to mention - I was finally able to listen to your podcast last night. (Took me a while to find it, as I'm a little on the slow side, it would seem.) Anyway, I completely loved it. Your story about the sweater caused me to drop a few stitches of my own, and I laughed so loud at the niddy noddy comment that I nearly woke the baby.
(So, when are you going to start your OWN podcast?)

Lisa said...

Well, it's probably a safe bet that Dolores will think twice before joining you for another field trip. Either that or she'll pack a larger flask.

too funny.

TrickyTricot said...

You should really discourage Dolores from smoking in the apartment. Nothing gets the smell of cigarette smoke out...

So, will we see you in Maryland?

Vintageme said...

Oh Dolores he looks better suited to a Chicken ..how could you ? As some wit on radio here said of David Beckhams's media image he's had sex with so many people I think I must have slept with him.But Rod...no amount of money would be worth it ..like marrying Onassis ..God I'd have needed a blindfold at night .You obviously havn't been to a Quaker funeral.Very kind of Franklin to take you .Holly

Kel said...

Oh, how you make me laugh...

Aidan said...

I feel so left out...forgotten. Discarded, like a empty can of Bumble Bee tuna.

But it does explain the desperate text messages from Dolores asking me to rescue her. I had no idea. I thought perhaps you were dipping her.

All the Way With Knitting said...

Now listen up Holly ..Dad and me are a bit worried about your Martin Sheen crush..old guys ..huh? not for you ?good.Dolores find yourself a nice steady ram and settle .You could open a yarn shop ..get an alpaca who speaks Spanish as opposed to Quechua and you'll have the Hispanic knitting community in your..errr hooves.

carla rey said...

Orifice hook? Oh, dear, that sounds painful.

--Deb said...

Oh, that Dolores . . . that's what you get when you invite yourself along!

(And, the Fold? I'm jealous, too!)

Janice in GA said...

I too draft with my left hand, and I've always wanted to try a spinning wheel with the orifice to the right. AND I'd love to try a Lendrum Saxony.

Color me envious!

Susanne said...

I absolutely laugh.out.loud. when I read your blog!! You are one sick puppy and I just love it!!!!

Looks like you all (including Delores, c'mon D. admit it) had a great time...nice shop!

Ted said...

Attaboy Franklin. Sounds like a wonderful trip. And very good advice from Toni about sticking with the Traddie until you're ready to move. (A wheel, after all is a considerable investment and a piece of furniture.) It's a good realiable, flexible wheel, and there's lots you can do with it.

Ted said...

And, BTW, I've been wanting to go to the Fold for about 5 years. {sigh} I just don't seem to get that far west.

On my *next* trip to the midwest, I guess...

Cheryl said...

"we'll be fine as long as there are no good looking farm hands around" -- was that warning for you or Dolores??

goblinbox said...

Methodist funeral! Gack! *roflmao*

Ann said...

Franklin, are you venturing this far east for MD S&W? You can bring Dolores - she might be ready for a sheep to shawl competition - no wait - she's a sheep wearing a shawl.....that outfit works really well for both S&W and the Hon festival.

Carol said...

"Frog sock"? Do tell.

I'm a teeny bit jealous, but I suppose I can overcompensate at the Fold's booth at Md. Sheep & Wool.

Faith said...

THE FOLD?! I probably don't even need to say this, but I AM SO JEALOUS!!! I'm glad Deloras had a smashing time, despite herself.

Paul said...

Awesome post! Thanks for the pictures and the events of the day. LOVE the pic of Dolores with the sheep! You are a gem!

bess said...

franklin--as a concerned reader i wanted to know if you were okay with all this flooding i am hearing about on the news? last night i saw cars being detoured off highways and i thought i might have seen dolores ride by in a cigarette boat of all things....seriously--are you okay?

Cheryl said...

We were always told that the "dead in Christ would rise first", and that meant that the Methodists were the first to go!!

mf said...

I've never been but order often! Love her stuff.. the pictures of your store & sheep look amazing! Toni is so very sweet online It's nice to hear she's the same way in person...Thanks for sharing your experiences and Dolores....;o))

Marilyn said...

Maybe you're right. I need to ditch the Slovenians for a while and head west. I absolutely must see The Fold--not that I need more spinning shit. Because I do.

I also draft with my left hand. But since I am more or less ambidextrous, is that right-handed spinning or left-handed?

puck said...

i am incredibly jealous that you actually got to go to the Fold. toni sold me my wheel over the phone. she was fantastic, i'm a beginner and she patiently answered all my (i'm sure asinine) questions and help me choose the lendrum upright....but i have to say i am now saving for the lendrum saxony. i nearly died to see that wall of roving behind you as you were spinning. ugh, my credit card would have spontaneously combusted in that place...maybe it is a good thing i live a 9 or so hour drive away.
thanks for allowing me to covet a bit:>

ashley said...

Mr. Franklin,

You are wonderful! Everything in the world seems to be better after I've read one of your posts. Thanks for sharing your life with the world, I may be stuck in a lonely dorm room but with you and Dolores I feel like I've got great friends sitting next to me.
Kindest regards,

AngeliasKnitting said...

What control you have - not going into the yarn store! The Fold sounds wonderful...and very dangerous! :-)

Send Dolores here - I'll show her some Amish folk! :-)

dragon knitter said...

looks like a good time was had by all!

i've got a proposition for you, if you're interested. email me. (and this is serious, business type proposition, not that floozy type, lol, i know better, even if you are cute)

Anonymous said...

I have a proposition for you, too. It's serious, non-business, and very much floozy.

Jon said...

OMG! That is just such a pose of you in front of the spinning wheel....ah to be that wheel....{wink}

Catherine said...

Ah, the Fold is one of my favorite places in the obscurties of the Chicagoland area. Got my first spinning wheel there several years ago, and upon going back, fell in love all over again. Its grown quite alot in the past few years! It is most definitely a fiber mecca, worth the drive. I could wax poetic about it all day but it makes me sad there is nothing like it in Kalamazoo Michigan.

happy spinning!

Dee said...

I love The Fold, Toni is the best! I need to make another run out there soon.

I also love your cartoon sheep, itd be perfect on a t-shirt!

Faith said...

If you and Dolores want another road trip this weekend, you can go to the Stephenson County Fibre Art Fair (http://www.suzybeggin.com/FAF.htm). Lots of good stuff there!