Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Bull's Yarn about “String”

Aunt Janet Said:

"It's yarn, Ernie. I don't know why some of you guys like to belittle our fiber arts.

Do you like to have your hobby for which you are passionate put down by others? I doubt it. Please try give respect for Janis' skills, and her passion for her fiber arts. It is important!"

The anxious crowd gathers in the “Arena of Fiber Knowledge” where the bull has been released from the keeping place at the edge of the arena, a place called “Ernie’s place”. Only the most knowledgeable of the fiber arts are allowed to enter the arena, and only fools risk entering without that knowledge. The bull must prove his knowledge of the fiber craft or die by the Toreadors sword.

The bull foolishly charges forth, where his ignorance has been called to the attention of the fiber craft. He dashed at the brilliantly crimson dyed, hand-spun cape of the Queen Mother of the Fiber Clan, the famed female Toreador Janet Finch. Only the people known as her minions are allowed to call her “Aunt Janet”. In his ignorance, the foolish bull has dared to call the Sacred Yarn… “string”.

With the challenge, the bull dashes forth to prove himself worthy. The agile Toreador swings her cape around behind her, as the bull rushes by. The crowd is dazzled by her agility, but even more than that, they were in awe of her Crimson Merino cape that she had carefully crafted and dyed herself, proving her knowledge of the fiber craft beyond any doubt.

As the bull and Aunt Janet parried and thrusted, it became apparent that the bull was not knowledgeable about the fiber craft at all. The famed toreador had spun magic into her cape. Magic that is only brought about by the hand of an artist. Her cape sparkled in the brightness of the Arena of Fiber Knowledge, and dazzled the poor bull with it’s brilliant artisanship. As the foolish bull dashed at the Magic Merino Cape the crowd cried, Ole! Ole! Ole!

The Toreador thrust her verbally barbed Picadors into the bulls foolishly exposed back. Picadors gayly wrapped in colorful hand spun yarns. He realized that he was not worthy. With each charge he wondered at the magic of the cape. He wondered how long that it takes to fleece an animal, as Aunt Janet deftly jabbed him with her knowledge. He wondered how long it takes wash the fleece, card it, spin it, ply the yarn, dye it, and hand weave it. The bull wondered how that cape had cast it’s spell on him. At each pass he noticed something new about the amazing magic cape. He noticed the sunny warm smell that only an organic fiber can give. He wondered about the beautiful crimson dye, and where it came from. He notice that it was almost the same color as his blood. He came to realize the true value of the hand made magic cape.

The bull slowly became mesmerized by the cape. The people in the arena knew that the "magic" of the cape was the love and care and knowledge that the fiber people all put into their art. The bull was slowly weakened to the point that he could no longer move. He was filled with Picadors of knowledge that Aunt Janet the Toreador wielded at her easy grasp.

The bull stood still with his head held high, in his big heart he knew that he was not guilty of any intended malice, but he was only foolishly ignorant of the fiber peoples craft. As he stood there refusing to bow, Aunt Janet drew her hand crafted silver sword and pointed to the crowd. The crowd roared, the noise could be heard for miles around. It had been one of the greatest confrontations that they had ever witnessed. She had offered the fate of the bull to the crowd.

The bull looked around him and realized the Toreadors assistants, called Forcados, all wore hand made costumes of Damask or Velvet, made on their own looms. The Campinos, who hold the head of the bull by the horns, to hold the bull still for the final thrust of Toreador’s silver sword, all wore their traditional long knit caps, from yarn made on their own spinning wheels, and hand knitted by their own hands.

The bull saw that his fate was in great peril, but he stood proud, knowing that he did not intend to offend the fiber people, but only lacked the knowledge of the proper terms. He fully appreciated the value of the beautiful red cape. It’s value was beyond compare, it was one of a kind, and could not be made the same by any other hand, it was indeed unique.

As the proud bull stood before the Toredor, the crowd roared, not yet to give their thumbs up, or down. Cast your vote. Will the bull live on?


Bunny said...

I haven't even read this and just skimming it is making me cry. Men... I do not understand you. Hurting creatures and watching them die just doesn't sit well with me. torture is torture. I know in Mexico women love it as much as men. I don't live in Mexico. I don't like it at all.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Um… I certainly hope “Aunt Janet” has a sense of humor.

I certainly understand the art of the fiber craft. I understand that there is nothing more warm or beautiful than a hand crafted fiber object. My family came to America in the 1730’s from Branscomb England. Janis family was from the same area of England, Devon Shire. The Branscomb people made Honiton Lace. The lace was world famous for making wedding gowns. We laughed together when we went there, we found out that both the town of Honiton and the town of Beer were next to Branscomb England. We thought that it surely must be a sign that we belonged next to each other.

As a side note; just so it is clear, I highly respect Janis and Janet’s craft. They both do it with years of practice and skill. They make unbelievably beautiful fiber pieces. They each make them differently, and their art is an individual art, as individual, and personal as a fingerprint.

But, that doesn’t make me any less ignorant. My lack of terminology shows. No matter what I called what they do, it would be wrong.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Bunny, again we agree. It is a cruel sport.

Please don't take the metaphore to literally. I was just looking for sympathy, and people seem to identify me with "Bull".

Anna McCarthy said...

My Ben likes to impress me with his knowledge. He said "It's not single ply. He means it's roving". I said, "It sounds like it." He buys all kinds of junk that he says he needs, like another radial saw-It was a blahdeblah at so and so's thrift store for only $120 when I know he has three others that are indistinguishable to my eye. But it is a special dodad that does some thing better than the others. So I tolerate his insanity and he tolerates mine and what will the grandchildren do with all this stuff, precious as it is to us? I like it though when he says "It's a BlueFaced Leicester, isn't it?" Attention is love, right?

Ben said...

It was only 50 bucks! Sheesh.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Well... If I had to be totally honest... At the same estate sale that Janis bought her, what's now become known as yarn. I bought an anvil, Boston forge, and tongs.

On the way home I asked her; “What are you going to do with four hundred pounds of yarn?” She said: “ It is a quality local product. I intend to start some weaving classes at the store and this will be a cheap way to get started. Then, I'll be able to sell the rest considerably cheaper than the current going price.”

Then she said; “What do you intend to do with your blacksmith shop?”

Don't you just hate the way women plan everything all out?

Bunny said...

damn, I wish I could read this yarn you're spinning. Great to see Tui here. Sorry about my off point entry at the beginning of your thread, or is it string? Love you Ernie.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Oh, for crumb sake read it Bunny!

It's just an analogy, it ain't real. It's somthing that you can live through.

Plus, you get a chance to vote for saving the bull!

Love you tooo, silly.

Robin Shelley said...

So, Ernie... what do you intend to do with your blacksmith shop?

That Janis is a card(er)!

kymk said...

I say without bulls there wouldn't be any bullshistory which is almost the best kind. Save the bull!

Omr said...


Anonymous said...

Ernie, be nice to Janis or she'll skein you alive!

(Ask her if you don't get the pun)


Rebecca said...

Hey, Ernie! Loved that blog. Yeah, I thought you were really respectful, and I was punchin' fun at you. Thanks for writing about me. I feel famous. I agree with Janis. Of course it is fabulous local product, and useful material. I'm looking forward to seeing this yarn stash.
Thanks for the respect. Yes we have a specialized language. One of the reasons we like to get together.

Aunt Janet said...

OOPS I just published my last comment with my daughter's name. So Rebecca's comment is really mine.

Bunny said...

I read it.... I'm an idiot...... save the bull.

Ernie Branscomb said...

More group hugs, Bunny read it!

I see that pesky Ekovox is back trying to pull the wool over my eyes again.

I'm glad that Aunt Janet took my ribbing well, it's risky business saying anything about anybody any more.

It was great to hear from Tui, and it is good that she realizes that all the fuss that men make about their wife's fiber craft is really loving attention. My wife is just glad that I don't dip her pigtails in the inkwell any more. I did, however, drop a cold, cold, real looking, and feeling, rubber frog down her blouse one day. I was inadvertently rewarded beyond my wildest dreams. I would describe her reaction, but payback's a bitch. However, I'm still paying for that one.

Robin Shelley said...
"So, Ernie... what do you intend to do with your blacksmith shop?"
Beats me. (Really, really bad pun)

Thanks for the history story that you send me Robin, I intent to make it into a post. Did you recognize any of the places?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Kym. Thanks for the vote of confidence! I think...

OMR, Bulls don't moo, they snort.

Omr said...

LOL...Well young fella, the older you get the more your snort comes out like a moo, you are too young to suffer from the ravages of age as do I or you would know that.

I guess you'll think twice about getting near Ariadne's web next time.

spyrock said...

sounds like the rivers almost petered out. i thought that was happening to me. until i met the right person. some women see the bull, some women see the old steer. the ones that see the old steer, you don't need anyway. they'll milk you dry. the best sex i ever had began when the worst sex i ever had ended. each time is more incredible than the last. sometimes the right person is right in front of your face but she doesn't fit your dream. you write beautifully about your dreams but she doesn't exist. sounds like life is short. why be so choooosy. love the one who shows up. she might call you ole man ferdinand.

suzy blah blah said...


Ernie Branscomb said...


ferdinanand-anon said...

trons, trons, trons... oh it has been too just don't come out quite right. maybe river isn't the best name for me.
sometimes i watch the golden girlz on Tv, but even they don't excite me anymore. i look at pictures of the lesser Penny C, especially the one of her in her toilet paper cozy dress... nothin.

but that is some good advice spyrock, my cat certainly agrees with you, love the one you're with...there is a whole lot of consensual cuddling her at the olfolks home. and the nurses let me pinch a cheek now and then. they are teaching us meditation is a lot like napping, but people will think you are spiritual... thanks for the try spy...i'll be awright, when you get older, history lust takes over for biological urges...

Anna McCarthy said...

Is it Corriedale roving or yarn? I could use a little nice corriedale roving for my enormous stash. I, too, have plans for all of it in the great by and by. Ben pointed out that he does not in fact know Blue Faced Leicester, but he knows Cheviot and Perendale and, of course, Ace's Romney. ....He got another basic expensive book on woodworking that he says is very delicious. Oh well, Cada loco con su tema. Each crazy with their theme.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Janis says that she now believes that it is all merino wool, because she has since heard that all that the lady raised on her ranch was merino.

The wool is spun fairly finely, to my eyes, I don't know what Janis would say.

I'll see if I can explain this with out incurring the wrath of the fiber people again. The wool starts as fleece, it is then carded into “roving?” then the roving is spun into single strand “yarn”. At this point I would call it string. Then Janis re-spins it by joining two or more of the yarns by a process that she calls “plying”, at that point I would call it “cord”, but she still calls it yarn. So, she has what I would call string.

This is like speaking English and converting it into Chinese.

Robin Shelley said...

Nah, Ernie, you're just being silly. You're paying attention to Janis & what she's doing & that's really all that matters.
You sound like a pretty good husband to me!
Oh, and you're welcome for the story. I came across it on the Web while looking for something else. Interesting, I thought. I recognized at least one place mentioned: Oregon! How bout you?