Wensleydale, Gromit!

I received a call on a Sunday morning. It was early for a Sunday call, about 7:30, and though I was up I was surprised. “No one I know would call at this hour,” I mumbled. I did not make it to the phone–I was up, but not up for a call–and the message was from a lady at the wool mill. “Your wool is finished. Do you want it? Do you want me to use the card number you gave me?”

Do I want it?

A few months ago a dear friend in Northern California gifted me a fleece. It was beautiful, black with brown when the sun glinted on it, shiny. Its locks weren’t very long. It filled a garbage bag. She described the sheep as “mostly Wensleydale.” I loved it. So when she took her own fleeces to be processed, I went with her and gave her my bag of fleece. “Hmm,” said the girl who wrote up my order. “Short fibers.” I know! But we talked about what I wanted–washed, carded, spun up into as close to a light DK weight as she could get. I have a box of fiber that this very same mill processed for me a year ago. I don’t need–gasp! I can’t believe I’m saying this–I don’t need more spinning fiber right now, but yarn? Yarn I could use.

That was back in April. Now the yarn was ready. I called the wool mill lady back and confirmed the order. Then I did a little dance.

Monday morning, I received another call. “Did you say you want that yarn?” asked the message on the machine. “I’m pretty sure you called me back, but did you?” I had visions. The wool mill lady is old, at least 80. Maybe she’s just misremembering my yarn. Maybe she thinks I’m someone else? Maybe my yarn isn’t actually ready. I called her back and left a message. Yes, yes, I want the yarn. Please send it to me.

That afternoon there was another call. I held my breath. But on the phone the wool mill lady laughed and thanked me for verifying. “I just knew you had called!” she crowed. I slowly let out my breath. Mostly.

Waiting, waiting. I dare not even plan for the yarn. I don’t know what it looks like, its weight, its final color after washing and scouring. But I’d been told that my fleece would bring me approximately 25 skeins of DK weight yarn. What does one do with that?

Hmm…

What could it be?

What could it be?

A fibery mystery.

Oo, loveliness!

Oo, loveliness!

Update: It came! It smells sheepy and beautiful and that is its natural color–hard to discern because of our bright afternoon sunlight, but it is black with dark brown highlights. Its texture is soft but slightly rough; I’m imagining outerwear. There could be two sweaters’ worth in there, maybe. Hmm…

Thank you, Wool Mill Lady!

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Beaucoup de laver.

Lotsa washing, this evening.

It started with dinner dishes, of course. Everyone does the dishes and no one should ever write a blog post about it unless the dishes are bordered with flowers painted from ground lapis luzuli applied with brushes made from the eyelashes of penitent monks. Mine aren’t. They’re from Cost Plus.

But I had to get the sink cleaned out and everything put away so I could do washing project No. 2, baby lamb. Of course, being a vegetarian house, this was the outside of the lamb, not the inside.

My friend sent me a box.

Not my cardboard box

It was kind of like this one, only white. About 10″-12″ on a side. Not a huge box. Inside was a lovely white lambs’-wool fleece (THANK YOU!) and I thought, look, this box is smaller than the capacity of my kitchen sink. I will wash my fleece tonight. But the fleece had a few ideas of its own.

It grew. I took it out of the box and it was like an origami crane, but made of wool, going in reverse, on fire. Except for the fire part. It unfolded itself, separated into sections. Part of it slithered under the kitchen table, part headed for the oven where a pan of corn muffins, soon to be a culinary disaster due to too much rice flour, still baked and sent off their deceptively yummy smell.

The cat discovered the fleece. And surprisingly, he did not pee on it. Instead, he rolled, kneaded, petted. He found free sets of wool locks and embraced them. It was disgusting. There isn’t this much love on television.

I gave it a preliminary skirt, divided the fleece into three sections and decided to do one at a time. The one section took several baths. Now, my understanding is that with a well-skirted, newly shorn fleece, it should be wash-wash-rinse-hang to dry. My fleece? Not so much. Wash-wash-rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse-hang to dry because I’m sick of standing over this sink and by the way, by this time the muffins (yes, well away from the sink and from any Cat Lanolin Love going on) have decided to play with the laws of physics and become corn-flavored dust. Tasty dust. Dust nonetheless.

After all that lanolin- and mud- and who-knows-what-all laying on my kitchen floor, of course I mopped. What do you take me for?

All kinds of clean going on in my kitchen, now. You could eat corn dust off my floor. But watch out for the cat. He’s easy.