Thursday, September 7, 2006

4 Norns?

Recently I've been lamenting the lack of things in the mail that aren't for mom, which is silly because the end result is that the contents of the packages she's been getting are usually fibercraft books for me, mostly to do with knitting. My knitting to-do list is growing, so I've been frantically trying to finish up projects before more pop up like mushrooms, which is difficult in this humdity.
Last evening, while I was up to my elbows in making a chicken curry with vegetables and pad thai noodles, our fierce guard hound announced that some stranger was in the driveway, nay, at the very door. I went to investigate and trailed clouds of spices from the kitchen to the front door, and what should I find but a box with MY name on it; said box was almost my height, and quite wide. I was thrilled. At last! Something for ME!
I dragged the huge box into the house and indulged myself in the first part of unpacking it: I cut the tape and unfolded the flaps, only to be greeted by an enormous amount of evil styrofoam. And then I went back to the kitchen to finish cooking my curry. I had a pretty good idea of what was in the box, so I called my friend Sam, and then I called my mother -- yes, we live in the same house, but I don't think she heard my bellowing about the arrival -- to let them know the joyous news. I resolved not to unpack the box until after dinner, though all through the meal I kept casting longing glances in the direction of the ginormous box.
Finally, dinner was eaten and dishes washed, so I dove into the heaps of styrofoam to get at the contents of the box: my very own spinning wheel. As soon as the three rather large pieces came out of the box -- the person who sold it to me was kind enough to do most of the hard work for me, like assembling all the smallish pieces into three largish pieces -- I picked up the stray bits of evil styrofoam and went around hunting for a screw driver and a hammer.
Half an hour later, I hauled my assembled wheel upstairs and sat down to practice treadling. I got a strong impression that the wheel was definitely feminine. Some of the Kromski wheels look very masculine, I think, as do some of the Louet. This, however, was neither of those: she's an Ashford, thank you very much, and her name is Clotho the Fourth Norn. For those of you who read this who DON'T know what that means, I'll provide an explanation.
Most mythologies have a Fate figure of some kind; most of these are female and have three aspects. The Greek figure is female and has three aspects whose names are Clotho (She Who Spins), Lachesis (She Who Measures), and Atropos (She Who Cuts); from the names and job descriptions, it must have something to do with thread. Duh. They spin, measure, and cut the threads of life to determine lifespan and what path a person's fate will take through that lifespan. Similarly, the Norse figure is female and there are three of them -- sensing a pattern here? -- though in this case, all three are visible at any one time. They're the Norns who sit under Yggdrasil and spin the threads of fate. According to D'Aulaire's book of Norse myths, the Norns also get very upset when the end of the world is about occur; "Woe!" they cry, and cover their faces, and refuse to continue spinning.
Anyway, my first wheel is proving to be an interesting challenge. I've succeeded in figuring out the treadling and drafting -- it's completely different from a drop spindle -- but I'm not sure how to make the yarn feed onto the bobbin evenly. It all gets deposited at one end of the bobbin, which isn't at all what I'm aiming for. Soon, though! AND I've found a source of good, inexpensive wool -- $7.50 a pound, as opposed to the $11 and up from other places -- so it's unlikely that I'll run out of wool to spin anytime soon since I know where to get it.

No comments: