Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

N is for


OK, how about a poem.

November Downtown
Discarded jack-o-lanterns sit behind a dumpster
collapsing into hairy gray mounds
like drunken grandfathers.
Vagrant leaves stumble across the street,
seeking shelter from the wind,
and the Salvation Army
gets a truckload of frozen turkeys
from someone who once
was grateful for a meal.

Or I could tell you about the fun time I had spinning for the grade-schoolers, but that isn't N themed.  It was well organized for starters.  The teachers had recruited a mob of knitters so that there would be enough of us to give the kids one on one attention.  (Actually, it worked out to one on five, but that was do-able.)  The knitters were assembled in the cafeteria.  When the guy in charge came in (his mom is a knitter) he said, "I could tell from outside that you were knitters. You're laughing and talking and everyone is already making friends."  He sorted us into different classrooms where the kids were already winding their skeins of yarn into balls.  They had made their own needles by taking lengths of doweling, putting a point on them in the pencil sharpener, and smoothing them down with sandpaper.  Then the teachers cast on ten stitches for everyone, and got them started knitting.  Meanwhile, I set up my wheel and began to spin. Teachers came up, watched and chatted.  Kids came up, watched and chatted. Other knitters came over, watched and chatted.  And as ever, the males watched the wheel, and the females watched the hands.  After the knitting session, the teachers asembled all the kids into one room to make sure everyone got a chance to see a spinning wheel in action, and to give them a chance to ask questions.  They were astoundinly polight, bright, delightful kids and asked very intelligent questions.

 I told them how, in the old days, if a girl was a good spinner, she could make enough yarn to sell and bring extra money into the family, so she would be let off the hard tasks outdoors to sit by the fire and spin.  Her hands would stay soft from the lanolin in the wool and because she didn't have to do work that built up calluses.  With soft, smooth hands, she could spin very fine yarn and bring in even more money to the family.  But, if she was a sufficiently valuable asset, often her father wouldn't let her get married and leave the family.  So spinster became another name for an old maid.

But in these politically correct days, most of the kids have never heard of an old spinster.  Still, it gave them something to  think about.  Your dad could tell you who to marry.

Next week, the kids are going to a sheep farm to watch a shearing.  Wonder if I can go along?

They are doing a multiple disciplinary study based on the book,  A symphony of sheep which follows wool production from sheep to shawl as it were.  In the sixth grade math class, they will look at gear ratios to explain why the spinning wheel has a big wheel to turn the little spinner and flyer.  In music class, they are composing a song about the book.  In geography class they are looking at places where sheep are raised and for what purposes.  For all I know, they may have mutton pasties to see how sheep taste.  I wish I had gone to such a school.  Learning looks like such a lot of fun there!


  • At 6:39 AM , Blogger LA said...


  • At 9:02 AM , Blogger Heide said...

    I love that the school is taking such a practical, realistic teaching approach. This flows right into how the need to spin faster lead the Spinning Jenny, and then bigger, water-powered wheels and eventually textile mills, which in turn lead way to the industrial revolution. Even the punch cards used to create patterns in fabric were precursers to modern computers. Just think, all of our society owes much of it's advancement to a little ol' sheep.

  • At 5:09 PM , Blogger Rose Lefebvre said...

    I bet the day was enjoyed by children and knitters alike!

  • At 6:22 PM , Blogger sophanne said...

    Seeking shelter from the wind and the Salvation Army!

    Thanks for the n poem.

  • At 7:06 PM , Blogger Rose Lefebvre said...

    I totally forgot to say that I enjoyed the poem!!!!

  • At 6:48 AM , Blogger Tim Young said...

    I love the Poetry.
    And the story of visiting the school
    It sounds like such fun times.

  • At 1:23 PM , Blogger KnitTech said...

    Funny how times change, I didn't even bother to tell my parents I was getting married the second time around.

  • At 11:11 PM , Blogger Amy Lane said...

    Wow-- just... I've dealt with kids that age, and they're a delightful-- and delightfully squirmy-- bunch. I imagine what you're describing and it sounds like fun, and it sounds like chaos, and it sounds exHAUSTING--I'm sure you and the spinning wheel were the star of the show, as was your talent for spinning two kinds of yarn:-)


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