The truth of the matter is that Denny was suffering. There’s this whole strike situation in her home city of Toronto, which means all the parks are closed and nobody’s coming to pick up trash or compost. They’re also putting new water mains in her street, so the water’s turned off all the time. There was even a threat of the booze folks going on strike, but at least complete disaster was avoided and that didn’t happen. But so then, there she was, suffering terribly, when the reupholstery people came and took away all her furniture. So she didn’t have anywhere to sit but the floor.
“Do you wanna come over?” I asked her. “We have seating. And garbage pickup.” She declined, at first — but then the next day, she reported that she was going to lose even the floor upon which she’d been sitting, so new floors could go into her house. And that, she said, was really that, and she and her younger son would be over in a few days.
We sent the manchildren off to YMCA day camp, and set about putting together class kits for Sock Summit 2009.
This was brutal hard work, you realize. The spindles were all made, the fibers were all here, but everything needs dividing up. On paper, there are 35 students per class times 4 classes, which would be 140 students. But — and I’ve talked aout this before — you always need to have extra class packs ready in case someone spills his tea in his stuff, or there just happen to be a couple of extra people who materialize unexpectedly, or because of other unforeseen issues. What’s more, the way it works for Sock Summit — which is brilliantly organized in my opinion — is that a vendor will be selling the class kits, instead of me and Denny handling them, and there is a chance that folks who didn’t take the class may be interested in picking one up as well. So we had to make a few extras.
Denny may hate my boss for demanding this, but we both know she’s right. But lucky for all of us, the Smith family arrived from Michigan and, since many hands make work light, we managed to get all the kits put together.
Here’s a little bit of a kit teaser:
The spindles, which people always ask about, are toy wheel spindles which have been lovingly made by my family, and ceremonially ornamented for good luck. They often feature secret messages — and these are no exception. Each one is unique and they spin quite nicely. For this run, we’ve upgraded from birch and poplar shafts to maple, oak, cherry, and walnut, and there’s a mix of waxed finish and unfinished. Here’s what they look like with a wax finish:
Denny is addicted to these spindles… and she may not be alone.
After getting kits all packed up and hauled back up to the yarn room where they await shipping, the Smiths forced us out on the deck for some hooping. Beth can do it.
Maggie can do it.
Ryan is a master. He says you do it like this: Hand…
I, on the other hand, can’t make it go. But this is a perfect example of how learning physical skills works: the youngest person in the group picks it up the quickest, and makes it look easy. The medium-aged kid can point out small things you should do differently and can teach you how if you’re willing to listen (Maggie helped me out a lot). And the grownups all sit around saying things like “I don’t think I can do this. Maybe it’s just not for me.”
Since all the grownup chicks in this crowd are spinning teachers, we found this observation to be a real knee-slapper. No, really, we did. Soooo…
Denny hopped up and decided to bring the empty cup and the beginner’s mind, and just learn; and so, she did.
Later, we all went to the fireworks in town, which were very nice and we had a great time sitting on blankets on the grass at the fairground… except for my son, who pronounced that his blanket was itchy. And then came the bombshell.
“I think I may be allergic to wool,” he said. While the rest of us sat speechless at the concept, and I started formulating an explanation of micron and prickle factor and comparing the grade of wool between the two blankets, Chad spoke up. “If you were allergic to wool,” he said, “you couldn’t live in our house; you would have keeled over dead by now.”
We all had to laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more. Because, yeah, there kinda is a lot of wool in our house.
For the 4th, Chad fired up the smoker. There were ribs, and pulled pork, and chicken, and we also made tamales. Denny made pie. Maggie was well-behaved and kept following grownups learning to do what they were doing, and the rest of the kids got constantly yelled at for running in and out of the house. You would think that if you’re constantly getting yelled at, then you would avoid the yellers; but yet that’s not how it works. This is just one more way in which I apparently do not understand the boy child psyche — like how they love to build things, but then the immediate desire upon completion is to smash it; seriously, I don’t get that. Not at all. And you could not have convinced me this was a boy-girl thing once upon a time, but yet, time and again, it appears to be. And I can assure you it’s not a parental expectation thing, and that these stereotypical boy behaviours were there in my son before he had a peer group to get them from. I don’t get it.
After we ate, we sat down to do more Tour de Fleece spinning, on my new cherry Matchless. But we were so full of food we fell asleep.
But wait, what’s that I’m spinning on? Is that… could it be… wait! It says something on the treadle!
In case you can’t read that, it says something about 40 years of Schacht Spindle Company. Which must make this… let’s see…
a limited edition Cherry Matchless! And so it is; mine is the second one off the production line, right behind Beth’s. And no, the treadles aren’t really grey; it’s the lighting. Beth delivered the wheel to me with the start of a collaborative project on it, which you’ll be seeing more of soon.
Right now, the Matchless is a good match for the red oak floors in our house; but in a few years, it’ll be a much deeper colour, because that’s just how cherry is.
On the 5th, the Canadians went home and the Smiths headed back to Michigan and everybody took naps. And today it’s back to the grind again, finishing up warps for my Andean backstrap weaving class at The Spinning Loft. See how it constantly comes back to workshop prep?