Sunday, March 05, 2006

Spindling and Memories of Silkworms

The Mrs. Beaton's I began on Friday are turning into mitts. They just don't want to be cuffs. Had to go to String and acquire yet more yarn. I needed (?) the fuschia variagated Koigu for the mitts.

Today I had 3 splendid spindling (sorry!) experiences. We are so often enriched by the varied backgrounds of our fellow New Yorkers. At Artie's Deli, waiting for Marsha's Pittsburgh nephew & niece, I spindled, attracting more attention than I expected. One younger woman was really interested; she's a mother with 3 girls and a full time job who doesn't have time to knit -- and misses it. She remembered learning how to spin in third grade. She was just fascinated by the process. Then, an older waitress made the point of telling me that her mother, from Russia, "did that, but I don't."

But, the most touching experience was at the Viand coffee shop on Madison between 78th and 79th. Doesn't it sound as though I go from restaurant to restaurant? When I finished eating,the owner came over to our booth and asked me, "are you from here?" He meant was I born in the US. Technically not, as I was born in Spain, albeit to American parents but that's not what he meant so I said that I was "from here." Whatever that is.

With some emotion he told me that when he was a little boy in Cyprus his mother grew silkworms. With real delight he described how he used to play with them when he was 5 or 6. He had warm and vivid memories of the whole process, from the size of the silkworms -- as big as his index finger, he said (now or then, I wonder?) -- to the silkworms' spinning their cocoons. He also remembered his mother boiling them and pulling the silk out into threads. He said he still had some things she'd made. He said she spun the silk, combined it with cotton she'd spun and wove the threads into shirts for him. By the time he finished tears were welling up. I feel so privileged to have him share this wonderful memory with me.

He must have been in his mid-sixties and I wonder what the rest of his story is. Having read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, I knew that the Anatolian Greeks had a silk industry. There must be some sort of connection with Cyprus?

1 comment:

Heather said...

How LOVELY! That pretty much sums up why I love NYC. It's rare that i don't run into someone wonderful with a great story. I was reading "Corelli's Mandolin" at a diner when the owner came up and said, "Isn't that the book...?"
Turns out he grew up on the island the book takes place on.
Spin on!