As any good athlete would do, Marion began preparations for the event with a bit of training, and decided, as one of four practice spins, to take her wheel to Mt Hotham, where August temperatures were not quite to Antarctic Summer standards…..-5C, as it turned out….
Decked out in her Antarctic layers, she wore THE BLUE COAT and was toasty warm for each of the 2 hours blocks spent – to everyone’s amazement – out in the weather –spinning yarn! The little wooden wheel, a Sheridan Junior, behaved beautifully, and has now been renamed “Hero” because he was the hero of the hour!
The Mt Hotham Resort Management Office was very helpful and supportive, keeping their watchful eye on Marion and her progress. Lots of people stopped to speak with and comment on both task and wheel. For those who did stop to chat, Polar Exploration and Mawson’s Hut became to focus of our discussions.
Parked in front of Hotham’s Big D General Store, somewhat sheltered from the wind, Marion watched the ski lessons while spinning yarn, and noted the fantastic powder snow on the slopes, envious of the speed at which the skiers were moving. Her one treadle foot couldn’t go any faster!
The second practice for spinning yarn in Antarctic Summer conditions took place on September 30th 2010 at AK Coolrooms in Keilor. Their kind sponsorship supported the project, as they prepared the freezer for a temperature of -18°C. For the two and a half hours she was in the freezer spinning yarn, Marion trained her fingers to feel the fibre THROUGH the gloves worn as a liner under the fingerless gloves. It took concentration, but it worked.
For the third practice, Marion spent time at the Chill on Ice Lounge , then in Russell St, Melbourne. Everything in the lounge is made of ice, the chairs, the tables and the glasses that the drinks come in. Set at -10º C, that is what keeps things cool. It is the perfect place to face an Antarctic summer, and be close to home! Taking her “Hero”, and arrayed in Polar Clothing, this practice was to test the types of fibre in subzero temperatures.
The fourth practice, this time on the ocean, was to check my maritime stomach muscles. Sailing on the ferry to Tasmania, Marion responded to the invitation from the Tamar Valley Spinners , who, though they could not accompany her on the actual voyage, decided to accompany her in Spirit and in fibre. Supplying colourful amounts of wooltop from each person, the resulting carded batt was a fitting tribute for the good wishes, hopes and dreams of the contributing spinners.
Now well practiced, Marion flew to Dunedin, New Zealand, where she collected her new spinning wheel, from Morag MacKenzie, at Vintage Purls. Compliments of the manufacturer, MAJACRAFT was keen to test their product in Polar conditions.
Leaving Dunedin in 3m swells, Marion’s sea legs were almost up to the task….As we approached Cape Denison and Antarctica, a distance of 5000+ Nautical miles, the swells became less and less until we glided into Commonwealth Bay on a mirror sea….