Paula (patient Paula; tall, strong Paula; Paula the sheep-raiser, Paula of the hard-working hands), Paula taught me to spin.
The lady who sold Hubbest my Ashford Joy wheel had failed. "Just do it like this," she'd intoned, as she continued her own spinning. A fiber person all my life, I'd never felt so lamely foolish as I did at being unable to imitate her.
Working alone hadn't worked. The wheel balked, the wheel slipped, the roving clumped, the roving fell apart, until in frustration I gave it up.
Hubbest believed in me, though. Even though the wheel sat unused for . . . was it three years?
Then, through a note on a bulletin board in a fabric store, I connected with My Teacher Paula. (That's how she put it, "My Teacher," referring to the woman from whom she'd learned.)
It's a chain of wisdom, a hands-on passing of the knowledge, like knitting and crocheting and quilting and weaving, all those crafts that link us to our forebears in productive creativity.
Anyway, My Teacher Paula said that roving has direction. Pull from the wrong end and the fibers can cling and snag. Pull from the right end and they surrender gracefully to your draft.
I couldn't feel it then, with that white corriedale roving. But I was willing to believe her.
Today Buckwheat, the pygora wether, proved her correct. Having run out halfway through my Buckwheat project, I'd had to send for some more. All willy-nilly, I picked it up to spin and on Day One it slid with sweet surrender toward my spinning bobbin, drawing from the roving as gracefully as it had when this project began.
But today I went at it from the wrong end.
Paula's words came back to me, then. "Roving has direction. Pull from the right end."
She was right.
Whirr, whirr, whirr.