Monday, June 22, 2009
"Pop!" Goes the Weasel
"All around the mulberry bush,
the monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun...
POP! goes the weasel."
When I was a kid, my folks volunteered at a restored colonial farmhouse in New Jersey, called the Miller-Cory place. We would go there on Sundays after church, dressed in our costumes. Us kids would basically run around the place, adding color. The adults did demonstrations, and other boring adult things. Some of the adult talks sunk in, though. I remember them talking about the 'weasel', which counted yarn. 40 times turning around, and the weasel would make a popping noise to let you know you had a full skein. I, at the time, was the little monkey that was getting in to everything. :)
Years later, and I am what passes for an adult. I've done the research, and what I knew as a weasel is technically known as a clock reel and may or may not actually be the source of the nursery rhyme. But it is a very useful piece of equipment, none the less! I was thrilled when I found my own weasel a month or so ago, in a second hand store. The poor old lady had been totally gutted, and had plastic daisies coming out of her. Can you believe that?! Screws had been added, so the arms didn't turn any more. She was marketed as a planter, for $27 dollars. Poor thing!!
Well! I rescued her, ripped out the planter and removed the offending screws, then poked and prodded and oiled until the arms spun correctly again. The clock innards are still missing, so unfortunately she doesn't POP any more. But each time yarn winds around the arms is exactly 2 1/2 yards. When I wind my yarn off of my spinning wheel into a skein, I simply count how many times around we go, multiply by 2.5, and I have the yardage in the skein.
I think my old lady weasel is quite happy to be back at her original task. Sometimes, I almost hear a the tune of a certain nursery rhyme, floating through the air...