I decided that one of the problems with my fantasy novel was that I wasn't in my characters'world enough. That seemed a sensible enough deduction. Okay, I thought to myself, she's a spinner - and, when they're on the road, they use drop spindles. (You can tell what's coming, can't you?). Now I own two spinning wheels. One, an Ashford, was given to me by a woman who attended a writing workshop I ran years ago. The tension on this wheel is a little dodgy. The other is a second hand Sheridan Scholar - a little upright. The treadle of this one has been mended and I seem to have only three working bobbins. However, I can spin on both wheels - although the Ashford's diva nature can bring out the worst in me.
But I do not own a drop spindle. Therefore I cannot truly enter my character's world. Hmmm.
I went to the Handweavers and Spinners' Guild on Friday and bought - (insert drum roll) a drop spindle! But of course. What a sensible thing to do!
Mine is an Ashford - I think it must the be the Ashford Student - a top whorl spindle. I also bought some beautiful roving to spin on it - a prepared merino and silk, dyed in orange and browns with a white strand through it. Plus 100 g of a brown Polwarth and Alpaca roving which is beautifully soft.
I plan to spin the merino/silk on the spindle and maybe the alpaca/polwarth and then ply them together (on a wheel, for heaven's sake!) and knit them up into a scarf.
So around here you've heard nothing but the THUNK as the spindle drops (they don't call them drop spindles for nothing!) and me cursing. But I am determined to learn. I think this would be a good toy to take on the Great Camping Ordeal along with my knitting and a few really, really good thick books.
A couple of days ago I decided to write a list of all the things I had accomplished in 2006 - mostly in my professional life. Some of these were projects that had borne fruit, some were things I had begun. The list made me feel a lot better. I think this is a really useful thing for anyone who works mostly at home to do. After all, no one makes us any kind of performance review, bonus, or notice to pull our socks up. Too often we shrug off successes and dwell on failures and there is no one out there redressing that balance.
So I wrote out my list and felt good. I went to TAFE and told my students to write lists. 'It will make you feel better,' I told them but they all looked at me as though I had invented some brand new torture for them. (They think I do this on a pretty regular basis.) Come on guys, you know you'll like it in the end!
On the score of my list I've been more relaxed and today, to take a break from drop spindling, the girlchild and I headed into the Royal Botanical Gardens market. We mooched around the stalls - heaps of Japanese influenced craft things - from very stylish apron skirts with kimono fabric inserts, modern takes on obis patchworking denim and kinono fabric, cunning little kimono fabric bags to greeting cards and covered journals.
We ate savoury crepes in the sun, watching two little grey poodles gambol around, shared a blood orange juice, tried on hats and examined some weird succulents and cacti. Then we came home via a stopover at Fed. Square, where we had a chat to short story writer, Michael de Valle.
Tomorrow we're going to Phillip Island for the girlchild's birthday. I've made some muffins (a bit of a muffin-cheat, but that's okay) and a tortilla/frittata and bought ham, pastrami, blue cheese (the girlchild's favourite), cucmumber, lettuce and some staples like corn chips and cordial.
I shall take my spindle, despite the risk of spinning sand into my merino and silk.
I should say the other thing I saw at the Guild was a spinning wheel for sale - a very solid looking Norwegian style of wheel. Possible a New Zealand wheel. I'm very tempted. So tempted, in fact, that I'm going back to look at it on Wednesday. It was beautifully balanced and in lovely nick. The sales money goes to the guild. It has a double drive and I believe they are very easy to use. But - let's face it - mainly i just really liked it.
Oh, after going to the Guild on Friday and falling for the norwegian style wheel, I hied into town and paid my dues at the Victorian Writer's Centre - and slap on my wrist for letting them lapse like that! It's important to support the organisations that support you.
Then I popped into Collected Works Bookshop, which is always a treat. Collected Works is the best poetry bookshop in Australia. It's run by Kris and Rhetta Hemensley and I have to stifle all sorts of gusy adjectives when I think of the shop.
Anyway I lurked around there for at least an hour - had a chat to Rhetta and showed her my new spindle, checked out all the poetry, looked at the journals and finally decided I wanted to buy an anthology of work written by participants of the Iowa Writing workshop, so bought that and offset some of the cost with the remains of a book voucher Mother gave me yonks ago.
Flushed with book buying success I then went to Reader's Feast and bought The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson and the latest Phryne Fisher.
Feeling terribly extravagant I toiled home, my arms full of parcels. I had very unwisely not taken my large backpack as I'm toting an attractive tooled leather one at the moment. However, Mother, whom I met for lunch at one of our favourite cafes, the Tokio where we both had the lunchbox without miso soup, gave me a recycled plastic bag. Then she gave me a very delicious orange and fennel sourdough to put in it!
You see, doubting dears, the benefits of writing the list! Two consecutive days off. Mind you, I wouldn't have done that had I not written another story for the Stray Dogs on Wednesday.