learning patience

June 12, 2006 § Leave a comment

After a completely ball-busting welcome back into the training world (it probably shouldn’t have been, but after those five luscious days…it was), Sunday I made a trip down to a hoity-toity “crafts” fair in Hillsborough. They called it an arts fair, but with few exceptions the majority of the world calls the products they sold crafts. Simple, homemade, mostly useful crafts, which in my mind are often much lovelier than art.

My mother is a craftswoman. She weaves and knits outergarments. It’s actually pretty neat to see her do it; she’ll sit in the car, by the side of a race, at the dinner table if you let her, and knit her way through the day. You can actually see the clothing shape up in her hands. Sometimes it strikes me that what I’m actually seeing inside her head. Since she doesn’t work from a pattern, there is no middleman; the designs leave her brain directly through her hands.

My father is her self-proclaimed “roadie.” He comes along to all these shows with her to set up the booth, bring food and water, hold down the fort when she needs a minute, and really explain to people what goes into her work in a way she can’t herself. He’s a much bigger part of the whole operation than anyone will ever know.

In my off-the-bike life I do some work for my mother; I spin, only yarn rather than pedals. On Sunday my job was to sit under a big tree for several hours spinning the rest of a Merino fleece I’ve been working on for a couple of months. At other shows I had finished the amount I had left in the same amount of time, and I expected to be able to send a couple of balls home for her to work with.

As the day moved on I made big progress in terms of spun yarn and virtually no progress in terms of raw fleece. I had forgotten I was working with the Neverending Fleece. Merinos make really fine, thin, smooth yarns, but in doing so they can prolong the act of spinning nearly forever since it takes so few fibers in each section of yarn. It’s great for the finished product, but to look down after spinning for an hour and realize that you haven’t even finished one three-foot section of raw materials…it’s a little demoralizing. I think that if people knew the amount of labor that goes into their clothing, even using the newfangled machines, they’d be a little more willing to pay for fair-trade items.

In total, I probably spent three and a half to four hours at the wheel, and I have half a bobbin (about a small-orange size ball of yarn) to show for it. However, by the end of the day I had enjoyed some great conversations, met people who were genuinely interested in learning about what I was doing, and remembered that I have the luxury of a night job that I don’t need so much as want. And I walked away with a grain more patience than I started with.

Not bad for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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