Have you experienced that feeling when you’ve known something for so long (basically, forever) that you’re scarcely even consciously aware of it any more?
There is a reason why I’m asking. Having finally given in to the temptation to learn to spin, and having instantly found it absorbing and addictive, my mum (Mother Twisted) had to remind me of something that I’ve known in the very back of my mind forever: I come from a long line of professional weavers, so there’s a certain amount of fibre sloshing around in my blood. (NB: That’s a different line of my family from the one that occupied the family seat for 300 years. So yeah, alcohol and textiles are in my blood, which explains a lot.) My great, great, grandmother was a month too old to be affected when laws were introduced in 1880 mandating children to attend school at least until the age of ten. She was gutted, because she would have loved to have gone to school. Instead, she had to stay home and help work the family weaving loom, like her mother before her. Here she is:-
Here’s my very first attempt in progress:-
I know, I know, there’s plenty of room for improvement. And one day I will no doubt look at this picture and wince. Maybe I’ll even sneak back here when you’re not looking and delete it. But for now, it’s all I’ve got.
I’d been successfully resisting the temptation to learn to spin. But last Sunday, my resolve crumbled into an ugly pile of dust on the floor, and I bought a drop spindle and some tops. It was all my friend J’s fault. You see, it was her birthday, and in order to celebrate, she, her husband N, and I, visited the premises of Toft in Warwickshire. Not heard of Toft? You’re missing something marvellous! (Were you not paying attention when I reviewed one of their books, here? Tsk, tsk!) Toft is an indie producer and supplier of alpaca yarn and startlingly wonderful animal crochet patterns.
They do publish some terribly sensible hat patterns and scarf patterns, and that’s great…
…but let’s face it, really we’re all here for the eight-foot-tall giraffes.
And all the other critters:-
J fell hopelessly in love with a gecko. I’m sure you can empathise. We’ve all been there, have we not? Unrequited gecko-love is the worst. Here is the fibrous stealer of hearts:-
And again, with my friend J:-
It’s fair to say that our visit was not especially brief. In addition to the yarn, it involved cake, as well as green tea (me), and coffee (J and N):-
No matter how many times we wandered around this small space, there was always something new to notice.
When you’re surrounded by novelty crocheted cats and elephants and sea slugs, it’s oh-too-easy to fail to notice a giant flamingo:-
Some money was spent. More money, in fact, than the cautious among you might consider to be prudent. And that’s how I came to be the proud owner of a drop spindle and some merino tops.
And then we went outside, to see the alpacas that had given up their yarn for us, and to thank them personally.
Gotta love these fluffsome bundles of eccentrity.
This one was clearly working on the imagery for the cover of that tricky second album:-
Aren’t they adorable?
Thank you for your fluff, alpacas.
And back home, I unpacked my drop spindle and my woollen tops, and I began to spin. And strangely, it felt almost familiar, though I’d never done it before. The twinnage watched. One of them asked me to knit them a snake, specifically a diamond-backed rattlesnake. And who am I to refuse? Best get on with the spinning, then…