My First Handspun Yarn!

I finally took the plunge. I pulled a lovely white 100% Merino Wool from my fiber stash and started spinning. First, I took the wool and pulled it apart into long thin strips. Then I gently drafted the fibers.

They ended up looking like big cinnamon rolls.

I took out my brand new turkish spindle, attached a leader, and started pulling on the fiber as I turned the spindle clockwise.

My first batch is a bit thick but I’ve read that this is standard for first-time spinners. As I kept spinning, I found I could produce a thinner yarn.

I just have to practice.

This was my first hank! It’s sort of a mini-hank but I am so pleased!

I only had 4 oz. of wool and was able to spin three mini-hanks for a total of 82 yards. I think my yield will be better as my spinning skills improve.

Now I just have to dye it!

My takeaways:

(1) Spinning is way cool.

(2) I must get more fiber.

(3) I need a spinning wheel.

Weekends With My Grandmother

I would spend hours beside my grandmother (“Welita” – my abbreviated kid version of “Abuelita”) while she crocheted. We lived next door to her when I was growing up and every weekend I would pack my bag, wave goodbye to Mom and Dad, and skip over to her house. We would watch telenovelas while eating sweet bread with coffee. (I’ve been drinking coffee since I was about 7 thanks to Welita, which explains a lot).

She taught me to crochet a long chain of single stitches. I didn’t get further than that but I felt like a grown-up sitting with her while we each worked our crochet hooks and talked about the evening news and whether our favorite characters on the telenovela would end up together. Years later, I learned to knit but missed the rhythm of my hands weaving the yarn with that single hook. So, I picked up a pattern book and taught myself to crochet.

I made this afghan for my son. I wanted something blue, but not baby blue. This rich cobalt blue and the deep brown offset by the white seemed to work.

They say that smells can stir up long-buried memories. For me, crocheting evokes hot afternoons, the smell of coffee brewing, and the buzz of the television at Welita’s house, and it makes me smile.

So began our visit to Fes

Upon arriving at the train station in Fes, we followed our host’s instructions and sought out a cab. Our host had told us how much the cab ride would cost so when the first cab driver quoted a price that was five times more, we told him no and moved on. He relented, agreed to our price, and drove us.

This should have been our first sign.

Once we arrived at the entrance to the medina, we waited for our guide to the Riad. To this day, we’re not exactly sure what happened. My husband handed over the fare but the driver was preoccupied having a heated conversation with a man who was standing on the street. As we’re making our way out of the cab, the man reaches through the window and punches our cab driver. Just then, our escort arrives and we hastily get our bags and follow him through the maze of the medina.

A few minutes later, a man runs up behind us yelling in Arabic. Our escort tells us that he is saying that we did not pay the cab fare. We assure him we did and the man – who was not even our cab driver – finally walks away hands in the air, muttering. So began our visit to Fes.

The Streets of Fes

One of 9,000 streets in the 1200 year old city.

Dar Attajali

Dar Attajali was beautifully renovated but unbearably hot. So hot, my husband could not get any sleep. We were in a large suite of rooms which had several sitting areas, a small kitchenette and a large bathroom. Unfortunately, the room had low ceilings with large wooden beams that dropped even lower. Every now and then as he was pacing at night from the heat, I would hear a bump followed by a slew of words muttered in Spanish. We left Fes ahead of schedule.

View from the Terrace

Madrasa Bou Inania

The Madrasa Bou Inania was founded in 1350 to serve as both a mosque and Islamic college. The plaque marking its location reads, “The mosque is marked by its fine mihrab, its onyx marble columns, and its elegant minaret overlooking Talaa Kbira Street. Its facades are entirely decorated with mosaics, carved cedar wood and plasterwork.”

Tilework Detail

Dar al-Magana

Across Talaa Kbira is Dar al-Magana, which is Arabic for “clockhouse.” The structure is what remains of a hydraulic clock which was completed sometime in the mid-1300s.

Bab Boujloud

Bab Boujloud is the main entrance to the medina. The gate is decorated with green zellij on the inside, the color of Islam, and blue zellij on the outside, the color of Fes. According to Wikipedia, zellij is “terra-cotta tile work covered with enamel in the form of chips set into plaster.” Note the view of the minarets as you look into the medina.