Thursday, December 24, 2009


Earlier this week I bought a second hand spinning wheel from an elderly lady who lives on the coastline. Before buying it, I went to take a look because it's a good 22 years since I spun any wool and I needed to make sure I'd be able to work it out. As I drove home from her place, I felt a wave of sadness washing over me. She'd told me she was selling off some stuff because she was moving to a unit, so I guessed she had probably been recently widowed, and I really sat with this on my journey home - how life ebbs and flows and changes constantly, and how the threads of others' lives continue through our own.

When I went to pick up the wheel a couple of days later, she told me that her husband had died several months ago and she could no longer manage the upkeep of her huge house on the hill or the 5 acres that unrolled around it. The sadness in her was tangible. She's a passionate gardener and clearly loved the laughter of the kookaburras in the trees that towered over her verandah, but she's off to a future that will fit her better now, and she is taking another smaller wheel with her, so she can teach her granddaughter to spin. And so the yarn continues to wind down through the generations of her family after all.

So now I have a spinning wheel. I always said I'd get one when we came to Tasmania. I need someone to show me how to use it, but I know I'm going to get right back into all that carding and dyeing and spinning and plying.... I loved it when I did it all those years ago in London. It was magical. I remember when I was about 18, during my last year in the Cotswolds, I met a guy whose mother dyed and spun the wool of her own sheep, and knitted it up into amazing jumpers, mainly for the Japanese market. She lived in this amazing old house called Postlip Hall, and she had a big studio full of wheels, yarns, colours, and textured garments spread out across the floor. They were mesmerising, real works of art. I spent a night there and for some reason I couldn't sleep, so at dawn I found an old wooden window seat and sat there, gazing out over the misty fields, at the sheep in the meadow. It was enchanting.

I may not have my own sheep (although we have friends with alpacas and Grandpa keeps sheep so I'll not be short of a fleece or two...) but now I do have my own meadow garden and the neighbouring farmer's paddock to gaze out at every day. With the mist rolling along the riverline, all the way down the valley, and the Hereford cows ambling in between the trees, it's a little bit like living in a Turner landscape. And I can't wait to get that wheel turning, that rhythm going and that yarn spinning through the new year.... I have a feeling it'll be a good one.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. Time can seem so merciless sometimes the way it steals those we love and have loved for so long from us. I know even when I'm happiest and with my family I always have this poignant sadness that I can't capture and hold that moment forever. I can see you now spinning away! xx