Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spinning in the Park

I took my spinning wheel to the park today. Actually, I took my kids to the park and whenever I do that, I usually bring along my current project. Sometimes it's a ball of yarn and a crochet hook. Sometimes it's a lap loom and basket of supplies, but right now I'm spinning up a batt of wool that I recently carded.

I figured I would get a few curious stares. "Who is this odd woman and what is she doing?" When I lived in back in VA, there was a group of spinners that I joined up with a few times at my local Starbucks. I've had a chance to get used to the looks you get spinning in public. I have to say though, the reaction I got was rather unexpected.

First a little boy came up to me. He looked to be about three years old. He thought my wheel looked like fun and wanted to know if he could have a turn. Then he immediately began telling me about his best friend and showing me his best friend's bicycle. We counted how many wheels I had (1) and how many wheels the bike had (4: 2 regular, 2 training) and then off he went.

Only a couple minutes passed when I was approached by a group of five little boys ranging in age from around three to nine years if I had to guess. They gathered about ten feet away and watched for a minute. I looked up at them and smiled. My wheel was squeaking just a little so I joked that I should have brought my oil can. This made them feel more comfortable and they came in closer and started to ask questions. They asked some really smart ones too. They were really interested to learn how this contraption worked and what I was making and what I was making it out of and so on. The oldest boy and I even had a little conversation about the industrial revolution and it's impact on textiles. He was pretty impressive. Then one of the kids realized he left his water bottle on the playground and off they went.

My son, sitting next to me with a book, started to complain about the sun so we moved under a shelter. We were only there a second or two before a young dad joined us in the shade and started asking me questions. "Is that a yarn maker?" he wanted to know. We ended up discussing the whole process "from sheep to shawl" as we say in the business. He sighed and said he was often bothered by the fact that if the grid ever did shut down, his kids wouldn't know how to survive.

Son number two came off the playground looking rosy cheeked and sweaty. He announced that it was time to go home. I said goodbye to the young dad and packed up my stuff. As I walked across the park toward the car, spinning wheel in hand, mothers barely noticed me and my unusual load. Then it struck me that it was all males who expressed interest that afternoon. Kind of interesting.