Stroll – The Hunt for Red Wool, December

Lisa rang me up in great excitement this morning. Apparently, a shop which used to sell wool in Hebden Bridge had moved down the road to Mytholmroyd. What fantastic news! Now, instead of going into a local shop to not buy stuff that I don’t want, I can now go into a slightly less local shop and not buy it there instead. And they say that nothing exciting ever happens in the Calder Valley… 😉

For Lisa, however, this represented A Very Good Reason Indeed to go out for one of our little strolls. We could get some fresh air and end up at the relocated shop where she could buy some red wool which she could later miraculously turn into a pair of fingerless gloves. I say ‘miraculously’ – I mean, who ever thought of inventing knitting? To me, it’s a miracle that the concept even exists, let alone that generations of women would have developed it into an art form which they could use to impress captive audiences such as young children, elderly relatives and others with mobility problems. This is the essential difference between men and women. (Yes, I know it is a wee bit of a generalisation! :oops:) Men invent fantastic new technology for slaughtering other men at great distances; Women invent versatile ways of decorating babies and keeping them warm at the same time!

Actually, knitting was at one time a very useful skill. It helped make it possible to clothe your family at an affordable cost. Nowadays, however, we have Asian peasants to do that for us – we introduced our minimum wage and now keep our fingers crossed that they don’t introduce one of their own! In terms of lost time, it costs a UK citizen the equivalent of a week’s pay to knit a garment which could be bought for the price of a tin of beans when the job is sub-contracted by the global economy to a worker in a Chinese factory.

You can go to any flea market and buy fingerless gloves more perfect than any you could knit yourself, for less than the cost of the wool to knit them! To me, knitting them yourself would be like spending £1,000 and a week of your life repairing a 20 year old bicycle, which originally cost £200, and will be worth about £15.93 once you’ve finished. Does Not Compute. Je Ne Comprends Pas. I Don’t Get It!

And so it came to pass that we headed off to Mytholmroyd to buy some wool… :-)

It was colder than of late, but at least it wasn’t raining. The first deep frost of the autumn had hit the lower valley. Better this though, than the endless rains of November. Last month officially broke the UK rainfall record. We don’t have a November documented that was wetter than that one! No wonder I haven’t been out much over the past 4 weeks…

Ice on the Rochdale canal towpath
Ice on the Rochdale canal towpath

We strolled along chatting about the meaning of life, and more specifically, about the meditative qualities of the act of knitting. This is the crux of modern knitting, it’s a lifestyle thing, a form of relaxation. Hey – I thought that was why they invented Meditation! Ah, it is meditation with carefully coordinated sequences of movements. I thought that was why they invented Yoga! Obviously, I’m not going to understand this one. Probably in the same way that Lisa doesn’t understand why I choose to cycle up vomitingly-steep hills in cold, wet conditions. We’ll call it a draw.

Ah, Mytholmroyd… I’d had a laugh cycling into the village on Sunday when I spotted a sign boasting “You’d be surprised what you can buy in Mytholmroyd!” Well, yes, I would be!

    “Surface-to-air missiles?”… “Sorry, we’ve sold out”
    “Hand-carved trout spears?”… “We’re expecting a delivery next week!”
    “Genuine Liberace piano?”… “You’re in luck sir, upright or grand?”

I’m being unfair to Mytholmroyd’s shops. If you need to buy a loaf of bread or a bag of potatoes there, you will frequently be able to!

So, there we were, ready to undertake the full shopping experience that we call Mytholmroyd, only the wool shop was nowhere to be seen. We yomped up and down the road examining shop windows, and having checked out all of them (about 16 in total!), found ourselves at a bit of a loss. Where was this shop hidden? We seized a passing Mytholmroydian and interrogated her. “Sorry me luvs, I never ‘eard o’ it!”

I began to suspect that Lisa had been trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Red wool! I don’t believe that there is actually a shop in Mytholmroyd selling wool. They have shops selling Chinese fingerless gloves, but not wool. You don’t fool me baby!

We trudged back to Hebden Bridge via the Calder Valley Cycleway. Lisa was glum, but I was almost beside myself with disappointment! I’d been so looking forward to standing outside the shop while Lisa spent 90 minutes inside staring transifixed at baskets of specialised knitting products…

There was only one way of overcoming our grief – Innovation cafe, coffees, a toasted currant teacake each and a shared Bakewell slice. Life begins anew! :-)

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