Thankyou Ron

In direct contrast to my first efforts at spinning with a wheel [ which could have easily been used as substitute fencing wire in any goat-escape emergency ] Nadie has produced 104 metres of quite lovely – and, very knittable – wool and alpaca on her trusty 28 gram osage orange drop spindle from Ron [ aka spinningwoodie ] whom we met at the Australian Wool & Sheep Show back in July.

I now know why I haven’t had too much success with the spindle that I bought from a different vendor a few years back.

The other chap is a perfectly competent woodturner BUT Ron is both a great woodturner AND a spinner of 30 years experience. It definitely does make a difference to have the maker understand your craft [ especially if he then spends half an hour or more teaching the wannabe spinner the basics of  park-and-draft, and explaining a lot of the finer points that I had to learn by trial and error ]

This yarn has been spun here, at Nonna’s, in the back garden at The Dove Cafe, on the train to Melbourne and back, on the platforms at Southern Cross and Mount Waverley Stations, in the Dentist’ waiting room, and on Tuesday at The Royal Melbourne Show, where Nadie was helping out at the Sustainable Backyard. Something that would have been a little bit harder to do with my Ms Charlotte Sheridan [ sheridan celtic ] as she isn’t exactly small and gets positively snarky after being thrown into the back of the car.

Anyway, be that as it may, here’s Nadie’s first completed – and very well travelled –  yarn:

One ply is some [ presumably ] wool roving from the back room at the Bendigo Woollen Mills provided by Ron

The other ply is some of my Alpaca , also from BWM.

The current plan is to dye it burgundy/red/purple and possibly to make some wristwarmers that will accomodate the first few metres of ‘yarn-with-character’.

Not surprisingly Nadie already has two other yarns in production … but that will have to wait for another day.


A Family Treasure

Nadie and I drove down to Melbourne today for dental appointments [ least said the better – although we DO have the best dentist in the world, which is why we now drive 2 hours each way to see him ]


We had both come prepared for the mandatory time in waiting-room purgatory – featureless grey walls and indifferent magazines of indeterminate age.

I, with the flower hexagons from the last post, and Nadie with her current knitting and also her drop spindle [ much to the interest and delight of the two little girls and their mum who were sharing our time in limbo with us.

Out of consideration for the dentalphobic [ yes, Sheepie, I’m lookin’ at you ] I will draw a veil over what transpired within Dr Tony’s torture chamber very nice room, and move on to our next stop which was for lunch with Nadie’s Nonna.

Homemade Gnocchi and meatballs … proper Italian coffee … heaven

and after lunch, I nudged Nadie into showing Nonna her drop spinning.

I have a very vague almost-memory from when I first showed Ma-in-law my wheel, that she had mentioned something about drop-spinning in her younger days. At least, I think that was the gist.

Even after nearly 60 years in Australia, English isn’t her strong suite.

…and I’d certainly never seen her spin. By the time I came into the family, she was a confirmed knitter of commercial yarns. Generally 2-ply on a cone and wound into however many multiples it took to reach a weight she wanted to use. No patterns either. She’s just work out what was needed and set to. Advancing age and macular degeneration have long since robbed her of that pleasure, but I figured she’d be interested in what Nadie was doing.

If I tried to write an approximation of her fractured English, my fingers would probably snap off at the knuckles, but basically her response came down to ” Hang on. I think I’ve still got my one of those ”

and there it was, in the darkest corner of her wardrobe, probably untouched for 30 or more years. A crude top-whorl spindle with a long shaft and a tiny metal hook.

Apparently it’s not a knack you lose either, because blind and arthritic, she proceeded to prove that she can still drop a line with the best of them. Maybe not from the second floor balcony, as she used to in her teenage years apparently … dropping it over the edge so that she could spin a long line before winding on, but she can still spin.

and now that spindle,made somewhere in Abruzzi, Italy, in the 1930s, and bought halfway round the world in 1953, has come home with us. It seems our girl gets the spinning gene from both sides of her family, and in an unbroken line stretching back through many generations.

Had I known this little gem still existed, I probably would’ve snaffled it years since, but it would’ve just been for the sentimental attachment. How much better that it go to the one person in the family who will not only treasure the link to her beloved Nonna, but will actually use it.