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Right now I can’t sit at my loom with a view

Well – I now I can, but for a while I didn’t want to work there!

After quite a few weeks of fairly consistently overcast weather and the most wonderful Summer rains ( for the first time in eight years), the weather has cleared and the world is looking just wonderful!

My walk this morning took me down the fence-line of our estate – for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a spectacular morning, and walking down the fence give me the best view of our beautiful mountains. After all, who needs Table Mountain when you have the beautiful Northern Drakensburg, with Mariepskop standing proud in the morning sun. the second reason for the avoiding the trails – for the next couple of months – is that after the drought, the rains have given rise to an upsurge in the insect population, and the beautiful golden Orb spiders are out in abundance for the first time in years.

These magnificent creatures string their webs across the pathways, and when I go for a stomp around the trails in the morning, I tend to have my head down, watching my feet rather than looking where I am going. This is mainly because I’m pretty clumsy and tend to trip over my own feet if I’m not careful, and unfortunately, it means that I have been known to walk into a web without realizing it was there. these webs are incredibly strong, given how delicate they are, and I once read that the tensile strength of a spider’s-web is greater than that of a steel cable.

This beautiful lady was particularly spectacular and about the size of the palm of my hand. Her web was to the side of the path, and although you can’t see it in the picture, it reflected as gold in the morning sun. It set me wondering about the possibilities of spinning Spider Silk. I’m guessing it would be possible, but one would need to destroy a huge number of spider’s webs to make anything worthwhile, so please don’t feel tempted to give it a go!

I was reminded again of the strength of the silk that spiders use to construct their webs, when i went to my loom with a view the other day. I have a small table loom which lives out on my patio, and it is one of my favrouite places to sit and work. However, with the inclement weather I hadn’t used it for a while and, noticing a strange looking collection of “stuff” in the corner of the stand – this is what I found:

Ok – the picture makes it look a lot more terrifying than it really is, and for those of you who don’t know what this is, it is the nest of a Brown Button Spider. The spikey things that look like the Corona Virus are her eggs, and she is fiercely protective of them. The White patch at the top of the picture is her nest, and if you look carefully you can see the distinctive red ‘Hourglass’ mark on her belly. Fortunately, she is nowhere near as nasty as her fearsome cousin, and I decided to let her stay so that I could watch the progress. Any thought of work was relegated to the back burner for the duration.

A few days later, I found that she had left her nest – for whatever reason, but the eggs were still there. i decided to move the nest to another location so that I could go back to work, and was astounded by the effort that it took to move the web. It was incredibly resistant to any sort of interference, and it was quite a struggle to get it off the corner of the loom stand.

Those of us who are lucky enough to work with silk yarns or spin silk thread will know what a beautiful material it is to work with. It never ceases to amaze me that something of such humble origins – it comes from insects after all – spiders and worms…….! – can be so magnificent. And yet when I looked closely at my temporary loom stand resident, and find a Golden Orb across the path, I believe that I can understand after all, because the creatures that produce the fibre are every bit as magnificent as their priceless product. We might not like them very much, but they are still just that – Magnificent!