Stubborn Boys refuse to feel the cold
Two evenings ago we got snow…yes the real stuff coming down from the sky in great big clumps and resting on the ground..everywhere looking magical and wintry..and people rushing to get home safe from work where they could sit by the fireside and get cosy; well most people. My role once I’d reached home consisted of trying to coax two stubborn alpacas to into the shed but they were having none of it preferring instead to kush down beneath a cluster of birch trees that we have at the bottom of our garden. With no other choice I took all of their generous haylage and feed portions out of the shed and placed it before them. That sorted the situation out. I must say that they are extremely hardy animals.
The falling snow has pretty much left us but there is still plenty afoot. The animals don’t seem too put out by it except that there is less greenery to eat so the rations that we provide have considerably increased. They are quite messy eaters and leave remnants of their meals all around their bowls. The local robin population is well aware of this and the birds hover nearby in order to profit from the alpacas’ poor ‘table manners.’ We could give them their food in buckets, as we did when we first got them, but they prefer shallow dishes as they can still see around them and feel safe whilst they eat.
I had great plans over Christmas. I was certain that I would be able to get the best part of a jumper knitted … at least the body. Of course that was merely ambition! I started knitting with the beautiful Aran wool that had been purchased for this purpose. I brought my work over to the UK for New Year and managed knitting a good five inches which gave me great pride however when I got back to Ireland I took a long hard look at the piece and put it against me. This was when I realised that there were way too many stitches on the needles so I scrapped it and started again. This time I’m making much better progress and really look forward to putting in a few rows every evening. The pattern is very simple; stocking stitch with a cable design running up one side, and it’s easy to pick up and continue where ever I leave off.
Just before Christmas I received a present from my cousin and her partner in Cornwall. It was a booklet entitled Spinning and Spinning Wheels by Eliza Leadbeater.
I took a long time studying the lady on the front cover and wondering what era she was from. If you study the clothes that she is wearing it kind of looks like an ‘old fashioned could be from any time in the early 20th Century’ picture but on second, or indeed third, glance the haircut seems to betray that theory. It was published in 1979 so I’m wondering if, in fact, it is the author herself. Whatever about the front cover this is a fascinating compendium of information all about the history of spinning and the tools used down the centuries to convert fleece and flax into workable fibres for further use. It gets quite technical quite early on and it is good to have some basic knowledge about spinning wheels before reading. There are lots of black and white photos of spinning wheels and associated tools through history from the British Isles, Europe and North America along with some contemporary drawings from the Eighteenth Century. I must say that I was transfixed when I got it and had to read it all immediately. There were lots of lovely little nuggets of information that I found interesting such as spinning wheels for flax having small pewter bowls dangling from them. These would have contained water so that the spinner could moisten the fibre to assist the spinning process. I also enjoyed learning about North American wheels mainly having three feet as it was thought that the floors were quite uneven although I can’t imagine that they were even in many other parts of Europe at the time either.
I so loved the hand spun alpaca hat that I made for Hubby at Christmas that I’ve decided to make another for myself. His was made with 3 ply but I have decided to go with a 2 ply as it won’t be quite so thick…I’m sure that this cold spell will be over soon!