Myths And Reality

If you want to read an excellent blog post on why the world needs more fairy tales, go to Jaimie Lee Wallace’s post on ‘Live to Write – Write to Live’. She talks about what we learn from fairytales, how they teach us to deal with monsters, and ties them to modern-day problems and genres such as urban fantasy and science fiction.

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Wild woodland creatures

Her post made me think about how our current society is so cut off from not just fairy tales, but from each other. Where do we go when facing a monster like a terminal diagnosis, or bullying? Do we seek out the elders in our family or tribe? Do we call mom? Ask to have tea with a friend? Of course, but also we google. We sit alone in front of a computer and interact with the internet. Or we post it on Facebook and wait for replies from ‘friends’. Some who are actually friends and some who are strangers. We think interaction with a friend via a computer screen is the same as sitting with someone over that steaming cup of tea.

Not that I’m someone who’s comfortable in crowds. I get on people-overload mighty fast. But I’m sure my point is apparent.

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Something magical must live in that keyhole

Yesterday I needed to find out how to wind wool on a kniddy-knoddy, a process in spinning. I went to YouTube (and then had to have my husband explain what I’d just watched). I realized that years ago I would have had to interact with people to find the same thing. I would have found a spinning group, or gone to the library, or called a grandma or auntie.

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Auntie and me

My current work in progress has to do with myths. The idea came from the classic ‘what if’ question and made me look at our fears. Why we fear certain things, what fear is beyond just an extreme version of feeling out of control.

But Jaimie Lee Wallace’s blog post also brings out another reason for this current story. It is making me look at, not just fear, but isolation in all its many forms.

I choose to believe in fairy tales. Heck, I tell people I still believe in Santa. And it’s why I love super-hero movies. Show me how to put the monster back in its box and banish it for a hundred years. Show me how a band of friends can beat back the end of civilization as we know it. Show me there’s someone out there who can save the day, and then teach me how to be that person.

And remind me to unplug, walk in the woods, and look for magic.

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Do you see the dragon? Or some mythical beast?

Spinning Wheels

I’ve wanted to spin for years. Originally it was because I was fascinated by art forms that historically were necessities for life, and that seemed to be dying out. Like spinning, taking wool, and turning it into cloth.

That’s why I learned how to do bobbin lace, which I’ve posted about before. But as much as I enjoy making lace the slow way, lace isn’t essential to life.

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We’re not preppers, but we like to be prepared. Partly that’s because of the way we used to live. Partly that’s because one of these days the great Pacific Northwest earthquake is going to hit.

So I should be able to spin. There’s material out there to forage if you don’t have handy sheep. You can spin fireweed, cattail, rabbit fur. Heck, you can spin dog hair. If the world fell apart, I could put warm doggie-smelling sweaters around my family.

If I could spin, that is.

Which I can’t.

Years ago, my husband built me an Ashford spinning wheel. I worked that wheel for months. But I just could not get the wool to draw onto the wheel. For something that was supposed to be rhythmic and soothing, all it did was make me cuss and throw things.

I finally gave up and told my husband I couldn’t figure it out and would never be a spinner. I think there were some tears involved.

That’s when he said the problem was the footman, a piece that connects the foot paddle to the drive wheel. He’d had problems with it when putting the kit together and used a hammer.

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The bottom half isn’t supposed to look like that.

That was great news. It wasn’t me. A friend then gave me an Ashford castle wheel and I knew I was finally going to spin usable wool.

I had wool to practice on.

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I had my dream project wool, in heather colors.

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And nothing worked. The wheel eventually made its way to the attic, and the wheel my husband built made its way to a dark corner, where I’m sure it broods and thinks unkind thoughts about hammers.

For Christmas this year, my husband got me a spinning wheel maintenance kit, and pulled the castle wheel out of the attic. I pulled out the dusty books. Start Spinning, The Intentional Spinner (a holistic approach to making yarn), and Hands On Spinning. And of course, since those early days, there are now YouTube videos.

I also found the results of my first attempts. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the wool on the bobbin, and the ball, can’t be used for much. Well, the kitten is now playing with them, so I guess they’re usable.

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I spent today with beeswax and cloth, oiling the dry wood. I paged through the books, struggling to remember the language of spinning. The mother of all, the maidens, the flywheel, the tension springs and bobbins, the drive band and brake band. Just the ancient names make me itch to treadle that wheel and try again.

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The con rod joint is broken so the treadle isn’t connected to the arm, but that will be fixed shortly

There’s even a very old folk song for the rhythm of the spinning wheel:

Merrily cheerily noiselessly whirring/ Spins the wheel, rings the wheel while the foot’s stirring/ Sprightly and lightly and merrily ringing/ Sounds the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

And guess what I learned today? In going through the books, I finally figured out that my castle wheel is a double drive wheel. Which means when I struggled with it years ago, I had the drive band on wrong because I thought it was a single drive wheel. Honestly, I didn’t even know the difference.

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The mother of all, with her upright maidens , tension knob, and the fly wheel in the middle

So maybe this time it will work.

In the meantime I’m going to practice treadling to the very old song and hope I might be able to create something for those I love.

And I’m going to daydream about the stories, the women down through time connected by wool and wheels.