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by Donna Flood
We Actually Saw Yesterday

Yarn Shop

The petite seemingly youthful little woman stood framed in the doorway which was an appropriate gray patina to complement her hair that was kissed by the same color as the red soil where they stood. Her hair was softly curled and was not a flaming red, mind you, but more muted and soft with darker depths running through, something like a burnt orange to golden brown. She was fair and delicate as if she did not really belong to this country place so far out from a town and population. There was no fear of them as strangers as the woman, girl, immediately invited them into her little shop.

For the outside the ancient farm house was gray and weathered with no sign of paint. This building was old and battered but it did stand well and there were no loose boards or broken windows. They were not prepared for the scene to open up for them when they walked over the threshold.

There was a smell of roses, cloves, and possibly cinnamon. When they commented on the sweet odor the little woman answered them, "It is the kettle I keep on the wood burning stove. The natural fibers must have moisture and since the wood fire is very drying I try to keep water on the stove at all times. The sweet smell is simply from the spices I add to the pot."

If the pleasant scent had caught their attention it was nothing to compare to what they were about to see. Every where, from floor to high shelves there were rows and rows of hand woven yarn. The great number of colors were so soft and rare it was almost like walking into an ice cream store which would have the same lush, soft, colors. Some of the yarn was fine and delicate, others were spun to have left the slub in it in a small way, and yet others left a larger slub and held a heavier look.

"Is this all your work?" they were asking with mouths open in disbelief.

"Oh yes, I raise my sheep, I shear them, clean and card their wool, and on these spinning wheels I spin the wool into this yarn you see here." To clean the wool I simply put it into a washing machine on a gentle cycle. After it spins out I dry it and card it like this. She began to card the wool by pulling the two paddles holding strong wire like bristles over the fluffy piece of wool thus pulling the fibers straight. The now carded wool she took to the spinning wheel. By gently pulling a segment of the wool into a piece of yarn with the now functioning old wheel she was coming to the final stage of her work; the actual turning of the wool into a colorful skein of yarn. As her gentle delicate fingers pulled and shaped the wool into a long thread like piece of yarn it was a skill to make the work look deceivingly simple as is done when a person has practiced the thing over and over so many times. The incredible softness and desirability of the yarn would make even the most frugal person feel a need to possess its color and beauty for a baby's sweater, a cloud like woolen scarf, or any garment to be treasured as rare.

"Can you tell me how you color the yarn?" of course, this had to be the next question.

As an answer the woman reached for a pink looking skein she said, "This I colored with beets." She picked up another skein, "This was colored with sage," and on and on she went to inform them of another part of the knowledge she had, the ability to use the plants and vegetables on her property to give these almost fairy tale colors to the yarn displayed here.

"I must have this ice cream apricot sherbert color and this soft tan yarn for a sweater for my girl," the observer now became a customer.

"The tan color is natural. It comes from my black sheep. A part of their wool is this color."

"Hm-m, so soft and lovely," the visiting woman was enthralled with this new found wonder.

After they had made their purchase they were next escorted to the pens where the sheep were along with a pen where stood the boyish acting young Arabian horse now playfully nuzzling his mistresses pockets. The young woman had greeted them with dignified reserve as she conducted her tour about her shop. This reserve was dropped as she lovingly stroked the handsome young horses neck and whispered gentle words to him.

Having experiencing these lessons reaching from some very antique past the visitors were like children who had come for a visit to a magical little house in the woods, inhabited not by a Hansel and Gretal character, but by someone like a Princess Snow White, hidden in this far away glen protected from the daily strife and hustle of the modern world. To complete the picture as they were now leaving, the young man who was for sure the mate to this lovely lady came on the scene. One could imagine him to be the young prince of the story. He was healthy looking, and although he was dressed in soft casual country clothes there was a charming richness to his character. He never spoke, only raising his hand in a wave and with a big grin closed the moment in time travel for them as they pulled away from the scene imprinted on their mind as a gift to another time and place of far away and long ago.

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