Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my hands. Maybe because of that fight we had last week. They aren’t pretty – I’ve got the hands of an Irish bog peasant. (Don’t know much about my ancestors except that they were Protestants with a Catholic name who emmigrated in the 1800s sometime and wound up in Simcoe, so I’m thinking they weren’t land barons, y’know?)

I always used to wish I had graceful musician’s fingers. I wanted long pretty nails and smooth skin.
My hands are stubby-fingered and red and scarred. They are cold a lot, and in hot weather they get puffy and rings don’t fit. There’s always a burn on at least one of them, and usually they’re dye-stained and/or have paint ground into the cuticles. They have callouses. They’ve been stabbed, cut, crushed, scalded, and they’ve got arthritis now. I have no idea how they can do some of the things they do. I watch them sometimes when I’m holding a tiny needle or a little brush and wonder how they don’t just crush it or how something so clumsy can not make a giant mess of what it’s doing.
My mom has the same hands as I do. I think they came from her father, but my grandmother’s hands were a mess too, gnarled with arthritis and knuckle-swollen, and one crimpy finger that she squished in a vacuum hose and didn’t have the courage to pull straight, so it set that way. I wouldn’t have had the courage either, I don’t think.
I take my hands for granted most of the time. Sometimes I paint my nails, but then I let the polish get all chipped and horrible-looking, and usually it winds up being covered in acrylic or wood stain or something anyway. They’re changing as I get older though, which is one of the reasons I’ve been watching them lately. My knuckles are starting to get a little bigger too, and my veins show more. The skin is getting kind of wrinkly and weird.
I don’t wish I had long graceful fingers any more. My hands are ugly, but they’ve got character, and they manage to do some pretty amazing things for me, when they’re not jabbing themselves with needles, or chisels, or dipping themselves in chemicals they really shouldn’t. Sometimes they manage to produce neat stuff even when they are doing one or all of those things.
I hope they know I love them.

Ok, that’s enough sappy stuff! I just had to get that out of my system. Besides, I figure the hands deserved some airtime, since I just gave ‘em a real good burn making pies the other day, and they were still nice to me today.

I got a package (finallyfinallyfinally!) in the mail today:

I can weigh tiny things! It goes up to 500g, because I need to weigh packages for mailing too, and they’re usually a couple of hundred grams, but it weighs tiny fluffs of wool, and spools of thread, and a cigarette.

Even more excitingly, I made A Thing. Possibly it even has a name, I don’t know. It isn’t my own idea, I saw one on line the other night whilst surfing, and I would post a link if I had any idea where. If I find it again, I’ll let you know, but if anybody else has seen one, throw it in the comments and I’ll post. It is a funny-shaped piece of wood:

about 7” tall and 4” wide at the base. It is 3/4 of an inch thick, because you need to drill a big hole in the top part for the little piece of dowel, which you also need. I used a 5” long piece of 5/8” dowel, mostly because (let’s all say it together) I had that, and I also had a drill bit that happened to be exactly that size. And the final things you need are a teeny tiny hinge, and a flat piece of wood of some kind.

Can you guess?

It is A Thing For Andean Plying! You can wrap the yarn around it just as if it were your hand, only without all the loss of circulation and horrible crampy badness, and then you can pull the dowel out (PS: don’t glue the dowel in) and the plies will come off easily.

Structurally, this one is finished. Aesthetically, I’m waiting for the stain to dry so I can add some gold paint. Then I’m going to varnish it, having already sanded the heck out of it, so it will be smooth and not-yarn-catchy. I’m going to glue a strip of felt over the back flap too, so that the yarn can’t wander down and get stuck in the hinge . But (I forgot to take a picture of the back) it’s just a strip of wood that flips out like on the back of a picture frame, so you can prop it up and have your hands free.

How cool is that?

EDIT – I found a link this morning – it is a  “Handy Andy” (why do spinning tools have such very silly names?) and there is a picture and explanation, as well as the opportunity to buy one instead of having any fun at all making it, here.