’18 A To Z Challenge – G

 

Challenge '18Letter G

For the letter G, I want to take you from Sheep to Socks, through

GADGETS

In my Rapunzel post, I told of my daughter, who is a spinster – literally a woman who spins yarns.  While she also does it with cotton, bamboo, milkweed silk, dog fur, angora, llama and other, more exotic fibers, she most often spins wool.  There’s a lot more to it than just spinning, so I thought I’d show you some of the gadgets necessary to get from a naked ewe, to a well-clad me.

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Most sheared fleece the daughter obtains, has already been washed.  If not, she has to soak it clean to remove dust, dirt, and the natural lanolin.  The above picture is of two hand carders.  Like giant, curved brushes, handfuls of the raw wool are placed on one of them, and then ‘combed,’ to align all the fibers.  Hand-carding is a long, tedious operation.  She also has a hand-cranked drum-carder, but needs the moved-away grandson, to run it.  Usually she just purchases ‘roving,’ which is a commercially produced, loose, fluffy rope of fiber, already for spinning.

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This is a drop-spindle.  Hung vertically, and brushed against the leg to rotate it, the yarn grows ‘up’ until it’s wound onto the spindle to hold it, and the process is repeated.  This one is fairly small, for producing delicate yarns.  Depending on the size, these can produce anything from the finest yarn, up to ships’ ropes.

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These are slightly larger drop-spindles for heavier yarns, one wound with thread the daughter has already produced.  These are all commercially made, but the daughter has several that she built herself from readily available household items.

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This is the smaller one of the daughter’s spinning wheels.  Her larger, better one has two foot treadles, to prevent a sore, tired leg from pumping with just one foot.  Through gear-ratio, the large wheel rotates the small spindle quite quickly, and the thread/yarn flows off as fast as the spinner can keep up.

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This little storage bobbin hangs off the side of the spinning wheel.  As the loose yarn accumulates, it can be temporarily wound on here, until the batch is finished.

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This is called a Knitty-Knotty.  The finished yarn is wound on from the bobbin, up-down, back and forth, then slipped off as a skein.  A loose skein of yarn is not handy to knit from.  The yarn can tangle, or it can fall to the floor.

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This gadget is known as a swift.  A skein can be held in the Vee of the center.  The shaft slides up and down to change its spread, and match the circumference of any skein.  You may notice that all these gadgets are made of wood.  Spinners and craftsmen developed and built their ancestors from wood, long before metal crafting became cheap and commonly possible, so there has been little reason to change what works in wood, into metal.  Steel/aluminum swifts are available, but they are not as inexpensive, tend to jam or tear yarn, and fall apart sooner.

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At this point, the daughter’s yarn reels off the wife’s swift, and goes onto her winder, to produce a small, firm, easy to find and control ball, that will sit on her lap, or drop into a knitting bag.  This is about the only gadget which has successfully been fabricated from plastic and metal.  Like a little sewing machine, the wire arm shuttles back and forth, to produce that round, even ball.

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The daughter knits a variety of things.  Her hand-spun yarns and knitted items can be viewed online at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective .  In the past, the wife has also knitted a wide range of clothing items, but now concentrates on custom-fitted socks.  Non-elastic socks don’t ‘fit all.’  She makes them for the daughter, our son, the grandson and now his fiancée.  The above pair were lovingly crafted for me, when it became apparent that my aging body couldn’t pump enough blood to my feet at night to keep them warm enough so that I could sleep.

***

In last year’s A To Z Challenge – K I included information about Herbert, Lord Kitchener, for whom this city is now named.  While not a very nice man, he did accomplish one nice thing.  Hand-knit socks, the only kind available back then, were basically tubes.  The toes were sewn closed, leaving a protruding, rough ridge on the inside.

Kitchener found that, after marching his men for hundreds of miles, their toes were raw and bloody, and the men would refuse to march further, or be unable to manoeuvre when needed.  He went to some women who knitted socks, explained the problem, and asked if there was a solution.  At least one of them said that there was, and explained it to him (or his aide.)

Without being able to knit a stitch himself, he is given credit for “The Kitchener Stitch,” which is not really a stitch, but rather, a type of grafting, or weaving, which closes the ends of socks smoothly.  Of course, the wife knows all about it, and uses it on every pair she knits.

Th-th-that’s all folks – for this time.  I hope to see your electronic footprints back here soon.  They could even be in a special pair of socks if you play your cards right.  😀

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Flash Fiction #163

Preserves

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

Lord, it’d been five years, and she still missed her Grandma.  She had loved Grandma, and Grandma had loved her, and all the other grandkids. 

Grandma’s love had seemed to be wrapped in food – homemade candy and cookies, turkey and stuffing and gravy – all the good stuff.  These were the last of her carefully rationed jars of Grandma’s dill pickles.  If only she’d thought to get Grandma to teach her how to make them.

She could buy pickles at the store, but none tasted as good, and certainly none of them held the care and love that Grandma put in.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Five For Festing

From the early spring, when most of the snow has melted, to the late fall, when it starts coming down again, the daughter (LadyRyl) is reasonably mobile.  Whether with one crutch or two, she can catch a bus a hundred yards away, over on the main street.  On bad days, she can call up the Transit Mobility van, and be taken in her power wheelchair, to places like the big mall at the edge of town.  I’m even amazed at how far away she can get from home, with just the wheelchair’s battery-pack.

All this freedom quickly disappears when the ice and snow begin to pile up.  Unshovelled sidewalks, and piles left by plows can be quite a challenge for the mobility-challenged.  She’s been stuck a few times, outside, in the cold.  Once, she thought a quartet of teen boys on foot might harass her, but they dug and pushed her out.  Then, a quarter mile down the street, at the other mall entrance, she got stuck again, and had to call her son at his work, to leave and come over to get her out.  No-one else helped.

Other than when I drive her somewhere, she spends a lot of time indoors over the winter.  You can’t read or watch TV all the time, so this is when she stocks up on her crafts.  She spins up lots of her raw fiber into skeins of beautiful artisanal yarns, then she knits and crochets some of it into shawls, scarves, hats, mitts and socks.  She and a girlfriend turn wire and semi-precious stones into jewellery.  It gets her through the winter, but by spring she’s got a lot of time, energy and money tied up in stuff for sale.

At about this time of year, along comes a line of festivals and opportunities to recoup investment through retail.  This year, it started five weeks ago.  On a Saturday, I took her 15 miles out, to a Mennonite village, to celebrate the Strawberry Festival.  Aside from fervent thanks, and a few dollars for gas, I received a couple of pints of “picked-today” strawberries.

The wife washed and hulled them and put them on a cookie sheet.  I put that into the freezer, later transferring the frozen fruit to a Zip-Loc bag.  I will be able to thaw small bowlfuls, and add them to my cereal over the winter.

The next week I took her to her monthly BarterWorks congregation at the downtown Working Center.  While it’s open to the public on a cash basis, it needs some promotion.  Still, she made a few sales and trades, met some old friends, and had a nice day out.

The third week, the cherries were in season, (In Washington State, and Mexico) and I put her and her goods beneath a nylon-topped gazebo in her nearby Cherry Park.  She and her friend sheltered from the blazing sun in the baseball outfield, and a bit more stock was exchanged for cash.

On the fourth Saturday, I set her up in the big park for the Anti-Violence Festival.  While we set up the gazebo again, she was on a small island, and well protected from the sun by mature trees.  She brought along her spinning wheel, to attract customers.

Here are some pics of the things that she and her friends make and sell, under the name Frog Pond Collective.  Included are shots of her spinning wheel, first lonely, then, fully manned (Womanned?)

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On the Friday night before, I had been there for the big Cruise Night.  On the way out of the park, I again ran into these.  I’m not sure if this is the city’s idea of a joke – or art.   😕

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About 125 years ago, when the park was created, one of the buildings torn down had belonged to McBrine Luggage, on this exact spot.  They’re still in business – just elsewhere in the city.  These are made of concrete, and, like the warning on McDonald’s cups, not to juggle hot coffee with your crotch, there is a metal plaque on the grass next to them, across from the bus terminal, reminding the drunks and druggies not to try to steal them.

Last Sunday, I was to take her to a fest the Oxymorons call Open Street – when they close the main street to traffic.  At the last minute – Wed.? Thur.? – it was decided to switch it to Saturday night, to meld with the Jazz Festival being held in front of the downtown mall.

It was overcast but dry all Sunday, but began drizzling as soon as we got set up Saturday evening.  Even sitting on a thick, woven rug, the spinning wheel began to get damp.  She called me to pick it up and take it home, but, by the time I got there, several vendors had had enough, so we packed it in.

The young city workers were supposed to have distributed a survey at the end of the evening, and were now desperately yelling in car windows to find what was good and what could be improved.  Aside from the rain, being located two blocks from the Jazz Fest, the only people walking by, in the dark, were on their way to their cars – very disappointing.

This Saturday will be a small, indoor BarterWorks again, and the last Saturday in August will be another.  The city wants to try Open Street again on the third Sunday.  (Did I say Five??!)  The daughter is considering the upcoming Word On The Street Festival, and is looking for other chances to unload the last of her stash for cash.