I was leafing idly through one of Pansy Cradledew’s magazines when my eye was caught by an article entitled The Mighty Changing Orifice, written by one Jacey Boggs. Though the kettle was coming to the boil and I ought to have had the making of tea on my mind, I found myself riveted by Ms Boggs’ words. What was this orifice? Why was it mighty? What changes had it undergone? All these questions and more dizzied my poor pea-sized brain, and, ignoring the steaming kettle, I read on.
I learned that a hole and tube orifice “is the most common”, and is made by Ashford, Kromski, Lendrum, Louet, Schacht, and a variety of other makers. Ms Boggs chided me “not to discount them because they are unimproved,” (her italics), adding that some of her favourite breeds of sheep are unimproved. This seemed to me a non sequitur, but I made a mental note of it. I like to gain at least a vague idea of the personality of a writer whose words hold me spellbound, and knowing that Ms Boggs was an aficionado of sheep told me something about her. Admittedly, I was not sure what, precisely, it told me, but it was an arresting confession to make, in the context of writing about the mighty changing orifice. Not all of us care enough about sheep to have favourites among them, after all. I did not, at least not yet, ponder the difference between improved and unimproved sheep, in fact it was not at all clear to me what might be the nature of either an improved or an unimproved sheep.
But I cast all thoughts of sheep from my mind when I read the next line and was startled to discover “there is nothing that this orifice can’t do as long as the size is right”. Gosh!, I thought, that would explain its mightiness, sure enough. Nothing it can’t do? This “common” orifice, then, could predict the weather?, tie my shoelaces?, make a cup of tea?
Thinking of tea prompted me to put the magazine temporarily aside. The kettle had come to the boil, so it behooved me to leap up and place a teabag in a cup and pour boiling water upon it. I gave it a manly stir and added a plop of milk and stirred it further and then I used the teaspoon to squeeze the teabag against the inner side of the teacup, and then, very deftly, for I wished if possible to avoid any spillage, I hoisted the teabag from the cup with the spoon and tossed it into the bin, and then I ran the now empty spoon under the tap to rinse it and I placed it, bowl-end up, in a cutlery container on the draining board. There it shall rest, until such time as I make another cup of tea, or until I place it in the cutlery drawer, when it is dry. Though I have described the making of tea, it is something I do so often that I need not think about the process, so all the while I was placing the teabag in a cup and pouring boiling water upon it and giving it a manly stir and added a plop of milk and stirring it further and then using the teaspoon to squeeze the teabag against the inner side of the teacup, and then, very deftly, hoisting the teabag from the cup with the spoon and tossing it into the bin and running the spoon under the tap to rinse it and placing it, bowl-end up, in a cutlery container on the draining board, my mind was still entirely concentrated on the mighty changing orifice. Had I not been carrying a teacup full of boiling hot tea I think I would have scampered back to the sofa at high speed, so keen was I to pick up the magazine and continue reading. As it was, I made my way slowly and steadily, to avoid spilling my tea, and only when the teacup was safely on the IKEA “Benko” table next to the sofa did I sit and return to reading the words of Jacey Boggs.
She had mentioned that the orifice could do anything so long as the size was right, and now she turned her attention to this size. I was not particularly surprised to be told orifices came in very small, standard, and larger sizes – I might have guessed as much – but to be then told that “Ashford offers bushings that fit in large orifices to decrease the size” set my brain whirling. Quite apart from the whole business of altering the size of the orifice with bushings, which might be something to do with the “changing” promised in the title The Mighty Changing Orifice, I was left to wonder why Ms Boggs brought up Ashford again but had not another word to say about Kromski, Lendrum, Louet, or Schacht. Did they not have their own bushings? If not, why not? It was all becoming more and more mysterious. I took a sip of tea.
If I had hopes that all would become clear, they were dashed. Ms Boggs wrote about “innies” and “outies”, that an “outie” often results in “the wrap wrapping around the extended orifice”, that some orifices require an orifice hook, that use of a Delta orifice means there is no flopping or thwapping regardless of grist, that in addition to flopping and thwapping one might, if one is not careful, encounter thumping or bouncing, and that in the 1970s Jonathan Bosworth designed an open orifice shaped like a half moon or the letter C. It interested me that Ms Boggs gave Bosworth’s Christian name, a touch not afforded to Ashford, Kromski, Lendrum, Louet, and Schacht. Was this because Jonathan Bosworth, or his orifice, was a particular favourite of hers, like those unimproved sheep?
But answer came there none. The article finished with the thoroughly confusing assertion that Bosworth had done away with a need for an orifice hook, but that a “hook orifice functions in much the same way as the half-moon”. For crying out loud!, I wanted to shout, do I need a hook or do I not?
At this point, I remembered that the magazine was not mine but Pansy Cradledew’s, and of course I did not need a hook, nor indeed one of Jacey Boggs’ confounded orifices. What I needed was my cup of tea. I threw the magazine across the room, picked up my cup, and took a hefty slurp.
The magazine, by the way, was Spin-Off, subtitled It’s About Making Yarn By Hand, an American publication from Interweave Press of Colorado. Among their other titles are Handwoven, PieceWork, and Cloth Paper Scissors.