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December 18, 2005



Well, I have a spinning wheel and making yarn is one of my hobbies. The point is that spinning is very meditative - so if you are cross, give yourself some alone time, have a cup of tea, and by the time you are finished your mood will improve and you will be fit company for your neighbours!

Deborah Meyler

We used to call each other crosspatches when we were children, taking it from adults, of course. A perfectly nice person could suddenly become a crosspatch, and then would come round again. I don't think that the woman in the rhyme would be permanently cross due to straitened circumstances or the miseries of trickle-down economics. She might be so regularly cross that she deserves the epithet, but I think the exhortation is the one that I heard countless times gowing up - have a cup of tea and feel better, and then, when you are in a better mood due to the tea, ask your friends in and feel better still. I'd bet my hat - although I have no way of knowing - that "take a cup" refers to tea. Spinners wouldn't have been able to spin very well if they had all been Mrs Gamps. My great aunts who all worked in the mills, and my grandmother (and her mother) - they all drank tea as if it was going out of fashion, and spiritous liquor consumption amounted more or less to a little glass of sherry at Christmas.


I have always seen this more as a trajectory of emotion; a reaction to some unknown wrong, real or perceived, that leads our protagonist to loop out of society and sulk, spinning sullenly in her drab parlour, cogitating on events. Eventually, upon resorting to some restorative liquor, the iron fug of mental dolour is lifted, and the loop is completed by a return to sociability.


As a spinner, there is nothing more calming when grumpy than to make a cup of tea, sit at my spinning wheel and spin. After a bit of time spinning in solitude with that good cup of tea, I am much more amenable to having company!

John Orford

The cup certainly doesn't have to be tea - it could equally be wine or punch in the old days. Crosspatch draws the latch, sits and broods over her (somehow it seems to be a poor lonely old lady) troubles, then begins to feel better, brews some punch and calls her neighbours to share it and help her feel brighter.


I fear you have missed the point of the rhyme - it is not advice to 'call the neighbors in' - instead it is an observation of the lonely/selfish behaviour of this solitary person, who draws the latch (locks the door), makes and drinks a cup of tea, and only then invites others to join her - i.e. will not share the drink!

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