Monday Musings

Spinning Wheels

This is the story of spinning wheels. Both figurative and literal. Let’s start with figurative.

Because we are still dealing with the pandemic, I’m still talking about it. My main entertainments throughout the year (in the before times) were fiber festivals. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so we have a plethora of fiber festivals….usually. Last year, everyone was trying to figure out what the parameters of the virus were, how quickly it spread, exactly how it spread, etc… So, even though many/most fiber festivals are largely outdoors, no one had enough information to make an informed decision on risk, so they all cancelled. Which was sad for me. My vacation time almost exclusively revolves around these festivals.

Last year, I wasn’t concerned for all the closures, and wasn’t SUPER sad. After all, that left me more time to scrub sand into the cracks of pavers. And I was saving SO MUCH MONEY. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I don’t have to spend as much as some, as the events tend to be well within driving distance. Granted, some of that money went to said sand and said pavers. Most of it went to paying down home improvements. So yeah, I’m back to where I would have been, but I don’t have all the stories or fiber to show for it, which is sad. Poopie is happy I’m working down my stashes. He’s less happy about all the partial projects going on. I’m not spending time talking about that right now, though.

We are now in the “second wave” of infections, which we all knew (or should have known) was going to happen. Everyone going back indoors means less airflow between the germ bag that is me, and the germ bag that is you. Quarantine fatigue is also a thing. We are a social species, so this distancing is draining, and people are more willing to “make exceptions”. Every culture/religion I am aware of has a gathering in the middle of their winter. Because even without the world being a disaster, the shorter days and isolation are rough. Even without money in times of economic recession, we can usually still find ways to celebrate, and lean on the fact that being together is what’s important. But we can’t even do that right now. (well, we can, but it involves haz mat suits, and/or technology that no one can seem to get right–echos, looking up people’s noses, etc..). So we make plans for next year, in hopes we can gather again.

How does this relate to figurative spinning wheels? We are in a collective holding pattern, figuratively spinning our wheels. We are starting to get notifications that fiber festivals are evaluating whether to have shows for 2021. Black Sheep announced they won’t. And I don’t blame them. There is so much lead time that goes into an event. For an annual event, the organizers are planning for the next year as the event is happening. We *might* be OK for summer events, with the combination of vaccinations and outdoor venues, but with many of the public who come being in high risk groups, I don’t blame the organizers from making the call to hold off. Instead of throwing their energy into something that may or may not pan out, they are putting their efforts into making 2022 the best possible year.

Some have decided to do abbreviated virtual events, but that’s an entirely different skill set, and different organizational considerations make the change over more challenging than you might think (ask any teacher who’s having to teach virtually right now). We are still spinning our wheels. And I’m a participant, not a vendor. My heart goes out to them. The ranchers can’t tell their flocks to stop producing wool. So, they are still working hard, and not sure if/when/how they are going to be able to sell. So, if you’ve been saving money, and have the funds, you can go to the websites of the vendors you love, and see if there’s something that calls your name. I know that it’s more difficult when you can’t touch and see with your beady little eyes vs. in person, But you love those vendors because they have what you love. Take a chance on a proven vendor. If you don’t remember their name, maybe go to the sites of the shows you’ve been to, they almost always have vendor lists as part of their previous years’ marketing.

Look, we’ve had pandemics before. We’ve had economic hardships before. We have always recovered. Rarely is it the same as before, and one hopes it’s better and safer than it was. Yes, our wheels are spinning, but we will get out of the quagmire. And some of these things really can be positive. For example, our family is spread out, and we’ve been using technology to be more inclusive during the holidays even before the pandemic. This pandemic is normalizing that. Imagine how much less stress a young family will have if they can video in with part of their family, instead of trying to fit a week’s worth of travel into two days? If these fiber events get virtual going, how much more exposure will small vendors or teachers have when a potential participant doesn’t have to consider travel and lodging? I have never been to Stitches, and likely never would have in the before times. The cost/benefit analysis doesn’t work for me for that event…but guess who’s attending a class at Stitches this weekend?

Take heart, Dear Readers, many of our teachers, believe it or not, came from the tech world, we aren’t as far behind the curve as you may fear. Red Alder is having virtual interviews. I don’t have any inside scoop on that, but they sent out the list of interviewees, and I’m excited. Yes, I’ll miss the hustle and bustle, the touching of goods, seeing the yearly fiber friends. But, it’s not the end of the world. One of said fiber friends is ill right now with COVID. So, the threat is real. We are all hoping for a speedy recovery without permanent repercussions. But, it’s exactly people like her I’m trying to keep safe by not going out.

Enough of that for right now. Lets talk about literal spinning wheels. I had been lusting for a Pocket Wheel for years. It started as a vague crush, kind of like how you crush on a movie or rock star. Yeah, it’d be awesome, but really, I’m fine. But then, I met Jon, the maker of the Pocket Wheel.

I was helping man a booth for a friend of a friend, and he was across the aisle from us. I got to watch his lovely bride spin and spin and spin. I got to speak with both of them, and they are wonderful people. So this is like meeting Ryan Reynolds and finding out he’s just as cool in real life as you hope he is. Your lust deepens. Now it’s not that you want to boink the crush. You want to chill on a dock late at night, and

…talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
      And whether pigs have wings.’

The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

But, I mean, if boinking is on the table, who am I to say no?

And so it was with my Pocket Wheel. I still lusted, but it was out of reach. First, there was a year long waiting list. When I say Jon makes these wheels, I mean he makes them. Each one. By hand. At each event, I’d see the wheels, and I would sigh. At the last Madrona, Jon and I were talking, and he pointed out that had I ordered one the previous year when we had first started talking, I’d have a wheel by then. Who can argue with that logic?

When I came home, I sighed over and over like I was in a Jane Austen movie, and relayed the conversation…and Poopie told me I should totally start dating Ryan Reynolds. Wait. No, I’m misremembering. He did, however, agree with Jon. I put in my online order, and put my down payment in. My wheel went into production last year. I got to choose my wood. The one sad thing is that I would have liked to have visited the shop to see it, and touch all the things, and pick everything out real time. But with restrictions and all, that wasn’t viable. That’s not too sad a thing though. I got my wheel. And because I haven’t been going to shows, I was able to justify getting the Wooley Winder. What that means for non-spinners is that I don’t have to pause my spinning to move hooks so my spinning fills the bobbin (mostly) evenly. The Wooley Winder has a worm gear so the fiber fills the bobbin absolutely evenly.

Now I have a shiny new wheel. My goodness! this wheel spins like a dream! It spins super fine. EVERYTHING….super fine. My normal spinning is DK weight, but this has been closer to lace. And it’s FAST.

What this means is that I can be spinning my literal wheels while spinning my metaphorical wheels. Because, you know, I couldn’t have been doing that with the other wheels I have. Hush now! I’m stimulating the economy!

Ugh….I tried to schedule this post. That didn’t work. I had also updated the post, but clearly, that didn’t save….so this is an edit. I included the first yarn I spun on my new wheel. Yes, I know it’s overspun, but the wheel and I are still getting used to each other…and did I mention it is FAST?

Since I can’t seem to stop the theme, please enjoy: