Another Hobby Blog

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Martian Lake Cow,

unlike its nomadic distant cousin the Martian Mountain Cow, is a stubborn, territorial creature resistant to change.

A Martian Lake Cow leaves its home precisely once. When a young calf reaches maturity it is chased from its natal home by its irate mother (who no doubt wants her space back for yarn storage). Bellowing horrifically, the calf races blindly across the terrain until it collapses in exhaustion. When it recovers, it heads for the nearest source of water and never again leaves it.

Martian Lake Cows living at the water source adopt the young arrivals into their own herds where the young calves take mates, raise new calves, and continue the cycle. On the whole, these herd-affiliated Martian Lake Cows lead rather contented lives.

One would suppose, from the name "Martian Lake Cow" that one should look for the species in the canals and waterways of Mars. This is not the case. It is far more common to find a solitary old grumpy Martian Lake Cow standing on a patch of dry ground bellowing insults at another Martian Lake Cow standing on another patch of dry ground not more than a few feet away.

The reason for this is quite simple: most young calves are not lucky. Instead of a populated lake, the very first water a wandering calf finds is more likely to be a puddle created by the recent rainy season in the footstep of one of the blindly stampeding calves. And even if that puddle dries up, the territorial Martian Lake Cow will spend the rest of its unhappy life guarding that patch of dry ground rather than admit, even to itself, that it couldn't identify a lake.

When enough Martian Lake Cows have congregated in a particular marshy area, one might suppose that the combined weight and footsteps, during the rainy season, might create a new lake, but this has yet to be documented by reputable scientists.

Since the habitat of the grown Martian Lake Cow is so unpredictable, the Martian Lake Cow produces an equally unpredictable coat. It has guard-hairs of up to seven inches in length, and downy neps as short as a quarter inch. It has hair that is smooth, coarse, crimpy, and slick. Spinning the coat of a Martian Lake Cow is truly an unrivaled experience.

Not only that, but, very much like its distant cousin the Martian Mountain Cow, the Martian Lake Cow passes its temperment into its coat. Where the Martian Mountain Cow's fleece takes on the nomadic spirit of the breed, the Martian Lake Cow's fleece simply refuses to move or change.

Case in point: the 8oz batt of Martian Lake Cow fleece I have in my custody for the NWRSA fiber exchange has been sitting quite solidly and stubbornly in my living room next to the dog's water bowl for the past eight full months. It has steadfastly refused all encouragements to change. It refused the glimmering beads I offered it. It refused the opportunity to be plied with varigated silk thread. It simply would not hear of being decorated, enhanced, or toyed with in any manner.

At length I caved in and adapted myself to the Martian Lake Cow Fleece's own simplistic nature. For starters, I brought the spinning wheeel into my living room and set it up next to the dog's water bowl. From there, I was able to coax the fiber into something resembling yarn.

Tonight I finished the fourth bobbin of Martian Lake Cow singles. Tomorrow I ply. I should get a finished laceweight yarn in time to cast on for the Olympics.

The next decision will be the pattern. I've been dreaming about something fancy with several integrated lace patterns and maybe some beads... but this is Martian Lake Cow fiber, and I've realized that it refuses to stray far from tradition. I wonder if I'll be able to coax it into a modified Feather and Fan....


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