Time to relax or get back to work?

Spend a relaxing day watching others spin

Spend the day with Norman Kennedy and a song spinning.

In Europe, in olden times, spinners had a break from their spinning during the celebration of Christmas.  But the day after Christmas, they were admonished to get back to work! Rascally men would splash water on them if they malingered. But here's a question: just what is the day after Christmas? In days of yore, it was January 7, the day after the storied Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem. The day after the "twelve days of Christmas," which started on Christmas Eve.

Today, many of us have been hearing Christmas muzak and seeing flashing twinkle lights since Hallowe'en, and are so ready for it to be over that our trees go out on the curb on December 26. Our Christmas season has become so intense and fraught with expectations, activities, and excess calories that today feels more like a day to kick back, not a day to get back to work.

Or, spend time surrounded by wool of all kinds with Judith MacKenzie.

Maybe your idea of kicking back would be to spend the day in quiet contemplation, listening to the whir of your spinning wheel and turning out skeins of lovely woolen yarn. Or maybe even that sounds like too much work. How about kicking back by watching other people spin? The legendary Norman Kennedy spins great yarn, and also spins great yarns of the story variety, on his new DVD, From Wool to Waulking. Not only that, he sings lovely old Gaelic songs in his mesmerizing baritone, tunes that have accompanied spinners and weavers for centuries as they work. After a thorough disquisition on picking, carding, spinning, and weaving, he and a group of friends "waulk" a length of handspun, handwoven blanket fabric, transforming it into lush, cushy comfort cloth. It's a great vicarious experience, highly educational, and you don't even have to lift a finger.

Or maybe you'd rather take an armchair-traveler trip to the Estes Park Wool Market (which will be held June 6–9 in 2013) with Judith MacKenzie and her new DVD, Three Bags Full. It's a high-energy experience, what with animals and sheep raisers and judges and auctioneers and milling crowds, but you learn so much from watching Judith evaluate and select fleeces—after which she brings them home and spins them up in a smart, intentional way. Reality TV at its best, and great preparation for this year's sheep festival season. And you don't even have to lift a finger.

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