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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Graham_Pirt Lyr Req: Knitting Songs? (50) Lyr Add: A LENGTH OF YARN (John Kirkpatrick) 26 Nov 10

John Kirkpatrick wrote and sings a beautiful song which, if not specifically about knitting, shows its importance in tradition.

A Length of Yarn

All through the town in a hundred houses
In every one the lights still burn.
All through the town by a hundred hearts
For a word of news the hearts are yearning.
Deaf to the log fires hissing and cracking.
Deaf to the kettles singing and whistling.
Only one sound fills their ears
And that's the sound of the storm waves crashing.

An old one sits in her empty room
And grim she glares at the candle flame,
No need to watch her hands at work
Nor the ball of wool at her feet unrolling.
One year to the day wagoner's cart
Brought home her son, all drenched from drowning
Brought him home to his new young wife
And paid no heed to a mother's weeping

`Cursed be the creaking wagoner's wheels,
Which freeze my blood each time they pass.
Cursed be the sea whose crashing waves
Robbed me of my son, rob me of my sleeping,
And cursed and cursed be the sweet young wife,
Who stole a son from his mother's loving,
Stole him living, stole him dead
And scarcely gave gave him three months' mourning.'

`Nine months I held him in my womb
And my son's blood ran free with mine.
Nine months I held him at my breast
His food all milk of a mother's making.
And nine long years I watched him grow
And nine years more to make him man.
Now all I had is lost and gone,
She's a hard and heartless whoring hussy.'

All through the town the lantern swings
As the creaking wheels come rolling by.
All through the town the doors swing wide
To see who still stands and who they carry.
Here's one more man has lost his life.
Here's one more house has gained its grieving.
But an old one's tears are bitter and hard
As she stares at the clothes to his body clinging.

`I know the hand that sheared the fleece,
That was the hand of my father dear.
I know the hand that span the yarn,
That was the hand of my own sister.
And mine the hand that knit this smock,
And mine the son who wore my stitching.
And here it lies on another man's back
And it grieves my heart beyond all telling.'

`See here, there's the place where a length of yarn
Is tied in knots, all ragged and charred.
That's the time when the candle fell
And burned my wool to a smouldering cinder.
Damn the work to make it good!
Damn the wool and damn the candle!
And damn this man who wears my cloth
And damn the one who gave its wearing.'

A young one sits in her empty room,
In floods the tears come flowing down.
Feels her belly softly stir,
Feels her breast a-gently swelling.
Here's one more child has lost its father,
One more woman who's lost her man.
Here's one more mother all alone
With one more curse that's hard to carry.

And all for a length of yarn.

John Kirkpatrick.

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