The Spinster’s Sad Story of the Spun Singles Snarl

Once upon a time, there was a spinster with two cats.

Well, actually, she was happily married and just happened to have two cats, but she was a spinster, in that she spun.

She loved to spin. Spin yarn, of course — although who doesn’t like to put their arms out and stare up at the sky and twirl and twirl? at least, until you get dizzy and need to stop, but it is fun every now and again — but this spinster was a spinner of yarns.

She would spin yarns on her drop-spindles, both bottom-whorl and high whorl. She would spin yarns on spinning wheels, both single treadle and double treadle, though sadly her own spinning wheel was away being fixed (still) so she had to borrow wheels from her other spinster friends (also happily married; cats optional).

One week, one of the spinster’s spinster friends (happily married, with a little dog) had lent to her a lovely Lendrum double-treadle spinning wheel, so that she could spin up some of the many beautiful fibres in her stash. What a happy week that was!

She spun up some 2-ply Blue-Faced Leicester…
BFL skein

She spun some thick-and-thin lambswool…
grey thick and thin skein

She spun some thick-and-thin blended lamb and llama…
lamb and llama, thick & thin

And some more lamb and llama singles, both white and grey.
white lamb & llama grey lamb & llama

By the end of the week so much fibre had been spun; but, of course, she still wanted to spin just a little more. She had some absolutely lovely silk and merino roving, hand-dyed in beautiful peppermint pinks and burgundy reds and toffee browns, that would be just delicious to spin. Even though the wheel had to go back to her friend soon, she decided to spin just this last little bit.

She started to spin, and it was glorious — soft and slippery and smooth and silky. Such beautiful singles! They flowed through her spinster’s hands and gleamed on the bobbin like a thread of jewels. She was spinning better than she felt she ever had before. In no time at all (or a few episodes of Cast-On), all the precious fibre was spun into singles.

Carefully, the spinster wound them onto her Andean plying tool, which was thoughtfully made for her by another spinster friend (happily married, with one cat, one dog, two sheep, and about 50 chickens). They looked lovely!
silk/merino singles

Carefully, the spinster took the singles, now wrapped into an Andean plying bracelet, off the wooden tool and onto a cardboard tube. She knew the wheel would have to go back very soon, but surely she could ply just a bit of it, right?

She sat, and spun the singles into the beginnings of a very pretty 2-ply (fingering weight). When her spinster friend’s husband came to take the wheel back home, she casually broke singles, set down the singles, wound the plied yarn onto her niddy-noddy, and folded up the wheel, happy with the spinning she had done. She bid farewell to the wheel and the husbands (who were going out to play games), and settled in for a quiet afternoon.

And then it all went wrong.

Who knows what really happened? Perhaps the spinster had set the singles down too carelessly. Perhaps it was the cats, entranced by the silken sparkle of the spun singles. Perhaps there were mischievous fairies in the room that day, who could not wait until night-time to tie their elf-knots.

All that can be said is that the two plying ends of the singles disappeared as if by magic, and when the spinster tried to find them, they were nowhere to be found…
And then the Andean-wrapped singles came off the cardboard tube…
And then things got a little strewn about…
singles carnage

Until all that was left of the soft and slippery and smooth and silky singles was a sad snarl…
singles snarl

And a sorrowful spinster.

Now, there is not really a happy ending to this tale. Eventually the spinster put the sad spun singles snarl away, and went out to the newly-opened yarn shop, and had supper with her friends, and did some knitting. The next day she carefully placed the snarl in a ziplock baggie, along with the mini-skien of 2-ply, and placed in at the back of a cabinet. Perhaps she’ll take it out again someday, and guided by helpful fairies she’ll untangle the whole mess. Or perhaps not: maybe the whole thing will someday turn into felted flowers, or soaps, or cat toys.

But there is probably a moral in this tale nonetheless, for the reader clever enough to find one, and you may be happy to know that the spinster is spinning again — with her drop-spindle, of course, and some cheerful merino/tencel…



Filed under fibre, rambling, spinning, spinning-wheel, storytime, yarn

6 responses to “The Spinster’s Sad Story of the Spun Singles Snarl

  1. Personally I’d say that feline tomfoolery had something to do with it!! At least you have a sense of humor about it, right?:)

  2. Oh, what a sad story. I’m looking at your cats too, although I may be biased by a certain small feline type who only yesterday was found with a single in her mouth, running, and already well down the hall from the balled source of her amusement. Fortunately in my version of the tale the yarn was a) way less cool and b) easily recovered. I hope your story finds its happy ending one way or another!

  3. Oh no!! The poor spinster! How horrible to find lovely fibery goodness in shambles! I hope that next time you are spinning that the fairies stay away from the mischevious! :)

  4. witlessfool

    The witless fool appreciates your suffering. However, get those things out from the back of the cupboard and make something of them – now. Mourn for people and pets and never for knits or lost wits.

    Cats are beatific things – and trainable: blame the parents. The Witless Fool loves cats.

    Let not hubris cloud the simple pleasure so satisfying and so plain from your words. Gandhi spun thread. He was trainable. Though beatific, Gandhi was not a cat.

    The Witless Fool loves about winter sweaters.

    The Witless Fool loves Gandhi, cats, and winter sweaters, and, therefore, The Witless Fool loves you.

    Knit with abandon,


  5. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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