Wovember Words: Spinsters

This poem has been contributed to WOVEMBER by a dear friend and seems the perfect way to kick off the Working With Wool phase of Wovember! Many thanks to Isolde Ó’Brolcháin Carmody for permission to publish it here.



We always knew
That tales are spun
After hours and days
Of wool-gathering,
Wandering here and there
Plucking accidental hanks
From barbed-wire;
Bringing home three bags full:
Sitting down
Tapping our foot
To a circular creaking
The fleece in our hands
Teasing and twisting
An endless thread
That wraps around and around again

We always knew
That the Universe
Is a single string;
That sky and ground
Have a warp and a weft;
As we throw our shuttle
To and fro
Moving the warp
Rather than snaking a thread
Slowly in and out;
Shifting the background
To walk in a straight line
Through curved space

We always knew
Sitting with hook and yarn
That this is how
The structures of matter
Come to be:
We knew the reefs
To be living and growing
An infinite invisible formula
Creating fractalic frameworks
Allowing life to thrive

We always knew
When to knit two together
And when to slip stitches,
Holding in our inner eye
A lattice pattern of lace
We knew the stitches
Of seed and moss and barley
Making and naming
All that sustains us

We always knew
To save every scrap
That might be needed
And we also knew
When thread is too tangled
To be of any good
And needs to be cut
And thrown on the fire

We always spun
We always wove
We always knitted

We always knew.

SPINSTERS is © Isolde Ó’Brolcháin Carmody – Writer, Performer, Story Archaeologist – and republished here with kind permission. View Isolde’s poetry on PoetryZoo; see clips on YouTube and find Story Archaeology – Uncovering the layers of Irish Mythology – here

Photo found here in the Flickr stream of the National Library of Ireland. Thatched Cottage. “A photo from our Eason Collection that may well have been used by Eason’s as a postcard. The shy wife is using a spinning wheel and I think that the grandmother(?) is carding wool.” @MakeOneYarns on Twitter that this was what was called a walking wheel, which is the oldest type without a bobbin and flyer. She said: “… used after development of hand spindles, before development of flyer/bobbin mechanism. Check medieval mss illus.” Date: Circa 1900

This entry was posted by Felicity Ford.

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