Monday, April 24, 2017


I've started going to yoga again, after a looooong absence.  I love it so much, but I took a really lengthy break from it because--and this seemed like a rational excuse at the time--we got a dog and getting down on the floor makes a dog think it is time to relentlessly lick your face.  In my experience, all dogs think this.  So now, when I try to practice a little between classes (because, ow, I am solidifying) I tiptoe around the catdog's otherwise constantly slumbering self, hoping she won't notice I'm getting down on the floor, but she always notices.  ALWAYS.  That dog sleeps 23.5 hours a day, but just try to get down on the floor and close your eyes for a minute.  Anyway.  So one thing they keep telling me in yoga (and one thing I kept telling my own students, way back in the olden times when I was a yoga teacher myself) is to honor where you are today, right now.  Do your best, appreciate that it is the best you can do, and let it be enough for now.  Spinning this fleece--oh, I found the card that came with the fleece and finally deciphered the fact that it is a Romney/Blue-faced Leicester cross, not that I know what difference that makes--is really making me honor where I am right now.  
Doc handcrafted those wool combs for me using scraps from his shop and a handful of huge and deadly nails, and they are scary and awesome.  I have only viciously stabbed myself in the thumb once, so that feels like success.  The fleece, which, you may remember, I bought at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival last fall, a big plastic sack of unwashed hair, is soft and lovely and springy and curly.  I washed it carefully, carded and spun some of it woolen-style, and was happy enough with it, but all signs point to a Romney/BFL fleece being best spun worsted-style, which is achieved in part by combing.  I discovered I love combing fleece, and that there is a huge amount of waste, but it won't go to waste around here--more on that later--but somehow, the yarn I spun from the combed nests, with all its springiness notwithstanding, and me all girded up with youtube tutorials about how to spin worsted-style, and this book, was just limp and dead, and pretty depressing.  No springiness at all.  Wah!  Well.  I think I will keep combing, but will spin woolen for awhile more.  I just like the yarn better that way.  Honor where you are right now.  
In non-yarn news, I keep thinking about Sara Berman's Closet.  (If you haven't seen this yet, go check it out.  Click on all the links, they are all totally great.) My closet is ridiculous.  Actually, all my closets are ridiculous.  I spent a few hours yesterday divesting myself of yet more things I don't need.  Child's outgrown orthodontic retainers?  Dented trombone?  Tiny souvenir guitar from somebody else's trip to Tijuana?  Adios.  I doubt I will go the full Sara, but it is good to remember that we are not our stuff.  My memories are not in the things I own, but in me.  Very interesting antique accordion that looks cool, collects dust, and nobody knows how to play?  Bye.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Signs of spring

Cold morning sunlight pours in through the curtains.  I open the window for ten brisk minutes.  Mourning doves mutter outside in the maple tree, the school bus comes and goes, a big truck downshifts.  Outdoors!  It smells so lush out there.  So dirty and loamy and promising.  
Scarves, hats, mittens, cowls make their way through the wash and into storage.  I love this part of things.  I love taking care of these beautiful things I've made; hand washing them, folding them neatly, tucking them into bed for the summer.  I love unpacking them again, too, later, rediscovering them.  I am already anticipating that moment.  
I make yarn at my spinning wheel.  This is a mystery wool, bought as a bump [that's what you call a ball of carded roving] at a fiber fair last fall, unlabeled and unidentifiable.  Somehow I had it in my mind that it was alpaca, but it is definitely sheep.  That's about as specific as it'll get.  Brownish, natural gray, wooly, soft.  Probably DK weight?  I don't know.  Who knows.  My plying is improving.  There is so much to learn.  
My Warriston is finished, and I wear it with some weariness, looking out the window at the tattered but greening landscape.  This pullover is meant to be worn as an outer layer--a sweatshirt with style--so it is very roomy and very comfy.  I used Natural Wool DK 8-ply by Wools of New Zealand in "Cocoa".  What a smooshy, springy lovely wooly wool that is.  It totally looks like the perfect handspun, and I am so interested in that at the moment.  
Here it is, in action in the field, with squirrel skull, discovered on the ground underneath our big maple tree.  I can't say I'm one bit sorry.  Squirrels!  Ugh.  I hate them.  That up there is my very favorite kind of squirrel.  He lives to chew another hole in my barn NO MORE.  
The sock yarns continue to haunt.  Why are these handpainted things so utterly magical in the skein, and so utterly not magical when knitted into something?  So often the gorgeous, luminous colors just devolve into mud.  And yet, they are always in my stash, always in my shopping basket at the yarn shop, and always ALWAYS coming home with me from the fiber festival.  I can't stop loving them.  The Scarfy Thing they are becoming is just fiddly enough to keep me from getting up a good head of steam on it.  Many of my joins and seams look pretty terrible.  I'll probably knit the whole thing all the way to the end without having decided whether I like it or not.  
It won't be the first time.  A knitter's gotta knit.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

And so on

Another project has left my needles.  Warriston is lounging beside the fireplace, drying after a bath.  I might have had this pullover done already, but midway through the second sleeve, the last of the wound yarn ran out, so rather than spending four minutes getting out the swift for more winding, I exerted a minimum effort, leaned over, grabbed the nearest ball of whatever that was already wound, and started something else.
Scarfy Thing, by Beata Jezek.  This thing totally captivated me for about forty-eight hours, but has hid the skids already, because after merrily clipping along in a sock yarn leftovers trance all weekend I suddenly reached a point at which it seems like the best way to proceed with this will be [theme from Jaws] intarsia.  Urgh.   I don't like to do intarsia.  Which is not the same as saying I don't know how to do intarsia, because how else would I know I don't like it?  Intarsia, with it's multiple-balls-at-once-twisting-into-a-spiderweb action is one of my personal knitting nightmares.  I hate sitting trapped in the epicenter of a complicated mess of tangling yarn ends.  Part of the appeal of knitting for me is the tidiness--two sticks, one ball of string.  I like an easily learned pattern, and I can stuff it in my purse as I run out the door.  Waiting in line at the DMV is nothing to dread when you have your knitting with you... unless your current project involves INTARSIA.  I think the next section calls for it, though, and I am going to yank up my knee socks and intarsia that thing--eventually--but that little snag did motivate me to get off the couch, wind the rest of the brown yarn, and finish the Warriston.  Yesterday was [dare I say this?] pretty much a summer's day, hold my hand, because I may gorgeous.  Warm, warm air.  What?  What is that?  My sun-starved, frost-eaten, snow-blinded reluctantly Northern self can't even handle.  Catdog and I sprawled all day long on the porch, hungrily soaking up the vitamin D, and counting convertibles, and even when a cloud covered the sun, the gorgeous April air, the wind was still warm.  We kept looking at each other in wonderment, Catdog and I, and she telegraphed her joy by lying in one sunny spot and not moving a muscle.  You guys, two days ago, there was snow on the roof.  Which means there could be snow again before we're done here--it is still just April after all, and nobody around here is packing away their parkas yet--and I might still need the Warriston.  I hope not.  But it'll be ready when I do need it.  Meanwhile, I'm tackling some intarsia.  Urgh.  

Monday, April 3, 2017


Happy Monday, friends!  Spring has arrived here in my Western New York neighborhood, and that, up there, is what spring looks like.  Densely cloudy, damp, and turbulent.  Windy.  Still pretty cold.  There is not much green yet, but when it comes, it comes all of a sudden--I notice the trees along the roadside have got leaves, and it totally seems like they didn't have any yesterday...that'll be soon.  Not yet, but I love that moment, my moment of sudden noticing.  So, early spring looks a lot like late winter, doesn't it?  I have a really foolproof way to tell the difference, are you ready?  This is how I know it's spring:  when we go to Starbucks now, I order an ICED coffee.  Yup.  Also, it is April.  I have strong feelings about this.  
Worn reluctantly with a turtleneck (brr, see above) is Camaro, designed by Tanis Lavallee of Tanis Fiber Arts.  I could hardly keep my hands off this project.  Everything else went away for awhile.  I used scraps and stash yarns for this, and I had just enough of that chocolate brown to finish.  When I say "just enough", I mean just enough.  JUST.  
There were eleven inches of yarn left after the last bind off.  Life on the edge!  I had about 2.5 skeins of it, the leftovers from my Ramona cardigan, knit last year and then given away when it stopped fitting me.  I weighed what was left of the brown (I think it might be Cascade 220?) in my kitchen scale and did some math to make sure it would make it to the end while still giving me enough length in the body.  I am a lot more flexible when it comes to sleeve length, but I can't handle a short sweater.  I'm 49 years old, and my belly-baring days are behind me.  I had the rapidly diminishing yarn ball in the tray of the scale beside me as I tried to outpace the shrinking yardage, and hectically confirmed that there would be enough to reach the finish line, over and over again.  I panicked a couple times, and was positive the scale was lying to me.  Recall, these are leftovers.  There wasn't any room for running out.  I think coming in with eleven inches to spare is pretty much solid gold on the math, or at least it would have been if not for this:
Accidental wrong color stripe!  Signature move!  As always, I didn't notice that until it was already in place, which is what comes from knitting in the evenings and also from having 49 year-old eyesight.  A little ball of some OTHER brown yarn had at some point snuck its way into the bag of chocolate probably-Cascade 220 leftovers.  I assume.  I don't even know how that happens.  
Well, without it I would've run out of yarn.  Also, this is a striped sweater.  For goodness' sake, though.  
Camaro has a very clever construction in the striped yoke section, which makes it fun/fascinating/stressful to make--I realized midway how much I rely on experience to know whether something in progress is apt to fit me or not.  Holding this thing up and looking at it wasn't giving me any of that information, and eventually, worried that I was ruining my wrists for something that might not only run out of yarn before it was finished but also would not fit, I put all the working parts on spare yarn and wet blocked it so I could measure. 
This made me feel better.  Also, it matched my Caravan Boots, which I made in 2012, so it was pretty clear that I haven't changed all that much since then.  Yarns used are (from top): Patons Classic "Peacock", Cascade 220 "Turquoise", Plymouth Galway "Light Blue", Patons Classic, hand dyed by me with goldenrod, Universal Yarn Renew Wool "Straw", Rowan Pure Wool Worsted "warm red", Ella Rae Classic mystery color, geranium-ish, Patons Classic hand dyed by me with black beans, and the most-likely-Cascade 220, chocolate-ish.  I used worsted weight yarn, instead of the DK weight called for in the pattern, so I knit two sizes down in hopes of getting a good fit, and it worked well.  I think this sweater is cute as heck, and I'm hoping to wear it soon, without the turtleneck underneath.