Wovember Words: Where it begins

Earlier this year I read Knitting Yarns, (Norton, 2013), which is a beautiful collection of essays from authors such as Anita Shreve, Sue Grafton and Elizabeth Berg. It is a superb anthology exploring relationships with wool and knitting and is truly worth a browse in your library or bookshop.

One of the absolute stand out essays, for me, is Where it Begins, by Barbara Kingsolver. It looks at the deep interconnectedness of wool and the act of knitting. Her observations are beautiful and will hold meaning that any knitter, wool lover, spinner and wool-worker will relate.
I would urge you to seek out this lovely prose and leave you with a divine quote on wool “matchmaking”.

Drape is the child of loft and crimp; wool is a stalwart crone who remembers everything, while emptyhead white-haired cotton forgets. And in spite of their various natures, all these strings can be lured to sit down together and play a fiber concerto whole in the cloth.
The virgin fleece of an April lamb can be blended and spun with the fleece of a fat blue hare or a twist of flax, anything, you name it, silkworm floss or twiny bamboo. Creatures never known to converse in nature can be introduced and then married right on the spot.
The spindle is your altar, you are the matchmaker, steady on the treadle, fingers plying the helices of a beast and its unlikely kin, animal and vegetable, devising your new and surprisingly peaceable kingdoms. Fingers can coax and read and speak, they have their own secret libraries and illicit affairs and conventions. Twined into the wool of a hearty ewe on shearing day, hands can read the history of her winter: how many snows, how barren or sweet her mangers. For best results, stand in the pasture and throw your arms around her.

Photo: Louise Scollay
Photo: Louise Scollay