Friday, May 27, 2011

Yarn Love

I'm in love with my yarn. Eight ounces of green silky cashmerino, spun into two skeins of two ply yarn, with 14-16 wraps per inch, totaling about 543 yards. 

Here it is on the bobbin:

Here it is drying in the sun:
(Yes, that is DH's disc golf goal it is hanging on.)

Here it is in the shade so you can see the colors better:

And here it is in skeins looking all professional:

Now, what does it want to be? Shrug, scarf or shawl?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Renegade Craft Fair

I’ve been trying to figure out what it was about the craft fair that caused me to have such a hard time getting my thoughts together.  First, I hadn’t planned on going until the very last minute, so I had no plan of attack.  I wandered around stunned, trying to take it all in. But the magnitude of it and the sieve-like nature of my brain have combined to make the details go fuzzy. And that's a shame because the details were so cool.

This was up at a booth of funky accessories. I loved the sentiment.

Secondly, the creativity and inspiration I found there was incredible and overwhelming; I haven't fully digested it. In order to keep track I grabbed a card from every stall that had something I liked:
I still haven't gotten the chance to go to all the different sites to check out their stuff, but here's a list of links that correspond to the cards:

I did end up buying a few things.
Lotion bars use the heat of your body to become soft, so you don’t get a whole bunch of goop on you. Brilliant!

A book at one of the few booths that had yarn-like things:

The only yarn craft represented at the fair was crochet. Which kind of fits my theory: It takes so long to knit something that - unless you are making very small items, with very cheep yarn and/or are going to charge an incredible amount of money - it is not actually worth trying to sell your knitting.* At the craft fair, where most objects were going for the $3-$60 dollar amount, it seemed like it’s not worth trying to sell knitting.

Recently, I’ve had more than one friend interested in helping me sell my finished knitted objects. So browsing the fair for knitted objects and not finding any was good intel. Forgetting about copywrite issues, I’m not sure it would actually be worth my time. I mean I don't think I could be fairly paid for my knitting, without it being prohibitively exorbitant. I guess if I lived in LA and sold one-of-a-kind-objects to the stars, it might be worth it. But I’d be in LA. I’ve read again and again by people who knit; no one understands the time and effort - unless they knit themselves. And if you do knit, you probably want to make the thing instead of buying it.

Crochet is different. I can make a toy in an afternoon or three, rather than three weeks. But I’m not sure if I actually want to design and make crochet objects to sell. The craft fair made me think about it, I just haven’t come up with an answer yet. I am more at home designing crochet than I am knitting… Then again, I thought that this would only take me a day or two, and it’s been a week:

Full picture put together once I’ve sent him off to the nephew.

*(Disclaimer: I’ve only been to one fiber festival; there might have been knitting for sale there. I was in the market for fiber, not knitted items.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Food and Shakespeare

As we were going to the Friday gathering after a friend’s birthday, I stopped by Central Market on the way home to pick up some flowers for her. Of the non-florist shops in Austin, CM has the best flowers. Out front they had some blackberry vines in flower so I grabbed them and then, since I was shopping hungry, I also ended up with some pate, double cream Brie, little toasts, and roasted garlic and cheese bread.

We brought the bread with us and contributed to the feast that evening. We ate, drank and were merry, and a great night was had by all. Two new, deadly discoveries: blackberry wine from Gruene, and Snicker’s cake. Mmmmmm…

Saturday DH had to work so I got up and made him tea then promptly went back to sleep. When I got up later, I hit the ground running. Met up with some girlfriends and we hit up the Renegade Craft fair quickly, before heading to yoga. Yoga was energizing instead of restorative and we stopped by the craft fair again. My brain is abuzz with creative possibilities. I still need to get my mind around the fair; I’ll post more about it later. DH came home from work and requested dinner rather than a show, so we went to Trudy’s with friends, and friends of friends from out of town.

Sunday DH and I camped out on the sofa. I finished spinning my green fluff into green singles, and it was only when I started to ply that I realized that I might have an issue. I had filled two bobbins completely. I had one bobbin to ply onto. I think you can see where I’m going with this. I think I’m going to end up with at least three skeins of green yarn.
I finished the first one and then it was time to head to Shakespeare in the park.

I was not excited about going to see Love’s Labour’s Lost. I’ve never read the play, and had no attachment to it. I thought the setting (early 60’s beach party) was going to be silly, but most of all I don’t like being outside in the summertime if I don’t have to. I don’t do well in the heat (by which I mean if it’s over 85 I sweat profusely and I’m pretty much miserable), I tend to get eaten by bugs, and did I mention I don’t do well in the heat? I much prefer to look at nature from the regulated comfort of the indoors.

I’m really glad we went. A friend brought peppermint and lavender oils which kept the bugs away. It had cooled off enough that, in my super spiffy REI clothes, I was comfortable. And the, what I thought was going to be overdone, setting made perfect sense. It helped remind me that even Shakespeare’s “lesser plays” are fun and, you know, written by Shakespeare.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good news and plans

I did not have to get a shot into my shoulder. Hurray! I have a prescription for physical therapy, and a topical ointment and that’s it. I should see the doctor again in 6 weeks, and by then be much better. I’m thrilled!

I really enjoyed my yoga practice this morning. My intention was “I am happy” and it’s really lifted my mood. Whenever I’ve gotten a minute to sit and think I’ve tried to focus on happy instead of worried. (Being “slightly worried” had become my normal state for too long.) Knowing that my shoulder is not nearly as messed up as I feared does put a good spin on the rest of the week too.

I felted the little basket in the washing machine last night. It turned out ok. I’d like to felt it a little bit more so it is sturdier, but I want to finish the doo-dad that I plan to put inside it first and make sure it fits. I’m not sure how I feel about using the handspun for the doo-dad. I’ve only got the center done, but I do not love it so far. I’ll finish it and reserve judgment till then.

I found a few different options for the Nephew’s birthday, but I can’t decide. I can make the “quick, will be done before the party” gift, or the “won’t be done by the party, but is soooo cute it would be worth being late” gift. I’m more inclined to do the latter. I’d rather it be late and he love to play with it, than on time and he doesn’t care.

Have you seen the Yarn Harlot’s Jacob Damask shawl?  I’m so inspired. I’d love to go from fleece to shawl. I’m getting better at spinning, so it’s not inconceivable that I might get there in the next year or so. How far did you say this rabbit hole goes?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Look, it worked!

So only a week and a half late for Mother’s Day, I’ve finished my first handspun lace shawl.
 It’s more of a scarf, I know.

Here is what it looked like while it was blocking out:
Sorry it's so dark, I was blocking it out late last night.

And here is what it looked like before it was blocked:
The magic of blocking really does work!

No, I'm not doing a little happy dance... why do you ask?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sit up straight, or else!

This morning I went for an MRI on my shoulder. It’s been hurting off and on for a while. I had put off going to the doctor because I was afraid that he’d say I’d have to quit spinning or doing yoga. (Not the brightest move in the world, I know.) But I’m allowed, as long as I take it easy. Good thing too, because I’m not sure what I’d do with myself if I couldn’t do yoga at least once if not three times a week. Funny how something I didn’t care about a year or so ago is now vital to me. Same thing happened when I really got into knitting, and I feel the same way about spinning.

I thought I’d had an MRI before, I was wrong. (I had a CAT scan, I think.) Ooooo I’m not a fan. All the people were very nice, but that little-bitty space, with the noise that was much louder than NPR in the headphones, and the vibrations that made my teeth rattle did nothing to help my morning remain calm. But, hey, now I know for sure – I am indeed slightly claustrophobic, and I’m certain I’d really like to never do that again. I tried to breathe as shallowly as possible, so as not to move my shoulder and they still had to redo two of the images because I twitched.

I've googled the causes for this injury, aside from repetitive overhead motions (like playing racquetball), slouching and not having very strong shoulder muscles can contribute to it. I'm considering trying to spin with a book on my head. Maybe not, I'd probably end up with crummy yarn and a book landing on my toe.

Just heard from the doctor, I shouldn’t have been too excited about being able to do yoga. While I don’t have a tear (hurray), I do have a calcium deposit in the AC joint. And the real kicker is the thickening of the ligament in the rotator cuff. I’ve got an appointment for Wednesday with an Ortho-surgeon, and will probably get a shot of cortisone. Hopefully this will make the inflammation to go away enough that I can start strengthening the muscles around my shoulder to keep this from happening again. This is good news, and I know that it is, I was just hoping for the “lots of rest/take it easy” answer, not “time to make another appointment” answer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Friday evening we drove to Galveston to visit youngest SIL (YSIL) who is going to nursing school there. DH drove, so I could finish the hat I’d started for little Z.
 I’m sorry it is such a poor picture; I was tired when I took it.

Saturday we went to Houston for little Z’s 1st birthday party. Little Z did not like the hat. I don’t blame her – I made the toddler size instead of the newborn – it was huge on her. Her older sister, little S, claimed it instead, and did not want to take it off. I will admit I got a kick out of how much she liked it. I’ll make another, perhaps a bit bigger for little S to grow into so that little Z can wear hers when she gets big enough. I need to figure out what to make for the nephew’s birthday. If I could find something fairly fast (the party is in two weeks) and is cowboy related that would be perfect.

After the party, Youngest SIL, Eldest SIL, MIL and I went for pedicures. It was the belated Mother’s Day gift from ESIL. I got a little flower, with a jewel, on both big toes. Yes, it is a silly little thing, but it makes me happy every time I see it.

Since Ike there is very little choice on where you can buy groceries in Galveston, so we hit up Walmart for some milk and silly souvenirs. I found Peaches and Cream yarn there (so that’s where you buy it!) and bought way too much of it. And some size 8 circular needles for YSIL. We stayed up late and hung out, and I taught her how to do the knit stitch. I’m not sure how much stuck, it was very late and we were watching a movie. But I left her my size 11 bamboo circular needles (I’m never going to use them), and a ball of yellow Peaches and Cream. And the hope that she might eventually make a washcloth. I’ll teach her the purl stitch next time we go.

Sunday we had a late start. My fault. I did NOT want to get out of bed. In fact, I could only be coaxed out with the promise of more candy than any one person should have. We visited La King’s Confectionery; I’d always thought was called The Candy Factory. I have very fond memories of being spoiled rotten there as a child. I got one of everything; ok not quite, but it was a nostalgic romp and I even got a lemon custard ice-cream milkshake. Continuing on the shopping spree we stopped by Tola “Mo’ Bettah Market” and I bought the biggest sunhat in all of Christendom. It’s huge! But you can roll it up small and it easily pops back into shape. I will never have to put sunscreen on my shoulders again. Bliss!

We went back to YSIL’s place and changed shoes to go down to the beach and get our feet wet. I wore my hat and REI quickdry clothes and was neither sunburned nor covered in greasy, smelly sunscreen. I’ve decided that I don’t actually hate the beach, just swimming suits. Why am I surprised?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blogs I'm reading

Since I’ve started blogging I have started reading a lot more blogs than I used to (blog is such a weird word, I know it comes from web-log drop the we, but it tastes odd). Finding Google Reader (thanks cousin!) has helped me keep track of them.

One of the best for technical knitting issues is, the appropriately named, TECHknitting. I had known of it, but only recently started reading it. It is full of wonderful tricks and tips. How to knit better, more efficiently, and what to do if a project has all gone sideways on you. If you are a blog-reading knitter and you haven’t read it, rather unlikely, go there now! Well, you can wait until you finish this post, but then you should check it out.

TECHknitter is currently in the middle of a series on garment correction. She links to a previous post about fixing issues in length, and I’m excited about the possibilities. My second sweater is a little sad. (The pattern is this one, the mistakes are mine and not the pattern's.) Not only are the arms a little too long, the body is a little too short. I’m not sure if I can use the tricks that TECHknitter suggested, because of the way the ribbing works into the cable pattern, but there might be a possibility that I can fix it. And thus turn a sweater I’m a little uncomfortable in, into my go to super-warm sweater.

Another blog that I’ve been reading regularly is Yarn Harlot. She needs no introduction; she's a knit blogging maven (or a blogging knit maven, I'm not sure). While fooling around on her blog, reading old posts, I discovered that she created the Tricoteuses Sans Frontières/Knitters Without Borders (TSF). 

She started TSF as a way to support Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Considering all that is going on in the world right now - earthquakes, tsunamis, wars - it is a good time to donate.  I’ll be doing the week long challenge and will donate to the MSF next Monday. And as soon as I figure out how to put a button on my blog I’ll add a TSF link.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend Update

This past weekend was full of wonderful things, but not much knitting and very little spinning. On Saturday I went to yoga, and then DH and I helped out a friend at a fundraiser for The Miracle Foundation. We had a lot of fun, and it was for a great cause.

Sunday I got all dolled up with the help of Mindy, the master makeup artist, to get pictures taken by Martha. Both Martha and Mindy were looking to expand their portfolios, and I wanted pictures of a slimmer me in my wedding dress so it worked out well.

And so, while I did sneak a few rows, I did not finish the blue handspun lace scarf in time for Mother’s Day. I thought about giving my mom the scarf with the needles still in it, but I want to block it out before I give it to her. She’s seen it already, and I’d like the openness of the blocked out lace to surprise her... I hope that the yarn isn't too over spun to block nicely.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Not about yarn

I love NPR, and yesterday as I was driving home I heard a discussion with an author about her new book. I haven’t bought it, or read the whole thing yet, but the first couple of pages that were free on Amazon were very interesting, as was the discussion on NPR.

They were talking about the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion. In order to have self-esteem you need to see yourself as better than other people. It is a top dog mentality – a “second place is the first loser” view of the world. It is hard to maintain high self-esteem because you can’t always be better than everyone. There’s always someone smarter, or stronger, or more successful, or more attractive, or more creative, or at the very least younger than you. The author feels the goal to be perfect in every way, or at least better than your peers, has caused a lot of damage to our psyches.

One particularly nasty issue, caused by the need to think of oneself as better than others, is that it can cast everyone else in a negative light. To be in the wrong is to have failed. If I am wrong, then I am less than you are which makes me worthless. So in order to preserve my self-esteem I can’t be wrong, therefore any argument must be your fault. Rather lonely way to see the world.

Self-compassion is about accepting yourself as who you are. Treating yourself the way you would a good friend, not expecting constant perfection, nor relentlessly chastising yourself when you do make a mistake. I’ve been actively thinking about “self-compassion” for a little over a month now. Yoga Scott ended a practice with “Have compassion for yourself so you can have it for others.” And the thought really stuck. As a general outlook on life, I think I’ve been a subscriber to self-compassion for a while. I try not to compare myself to others (try being the important word). If I make a mistake I try to let it go. This is not to say that I should not try to fix the mistake, but you can’t fix anything if you can’t acknowledge there was a mistake in the first place.

One of my favorite sayings is “I may be wrong. I have been wrong before.” Life is so much easier if you are able to accept that you are human, and so might be wrong once in a while. The world doesn’t stop turning if I’ve made a mistake, and I don’t really think less of myself for it. If I view the world thinking “I might be wrong” then I am open to new ideas and new points of view rather than having to constantly defend myself.

I may not agree with anything else in the book, but I’m looking forward to reading it. It may help me understand myself, and how to better my life. Or it may not, but I’m excited about the opportunity to read about something that’s been playing around in my head for a while.


There’s been a change in the way I’ve been blogging. At first I was hesitant about what I posted. I wanted to make sure I had carefully chosen every word. I wanted this blog to be fun to read, and have interesting insights into my creative process. More recently, I’ve been focused on documenting rather than on writing. The blog has become a record of my progress, no longer an end in and of itself. I quickly sketch the gist of what I’m feeling and thinking while I’m playing with fluff and yarn, but the excitement about posting has diminished. Now, it’s more about tossing some pictures with a few words just to have something there. I’m no longer satisfied with that.

I need to find the middle path. I won’t post often if I obsess about every word, but I won’t be happy about what I’m posting if I don’t take the time to craft it. I guess I need to be mindful of what I am writing. Find a point before I blather away. So what’s the point of this? Last night, as I was putting the finishing touches on a post, I realized I’d posted the same thing twice in a row. It was over a week ago and I hadn't noticed. If I’m not reading this, why should anyone else?

Ah well, at least I’ve noticed now. I’ve fixed it and I’ll be more aware of what I post in the future. And if I’m the only one to read this, that wouldn’t be so bad, as long as I get the practice I need from it. Documenting my progress as a writer, fibernista and yogini is kind of what I intended from the start.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Navaho plying

I did it! I figured out how to Navaho ply on my wheel. I’d been doing a variation of it when plying on my spindle, but I really wanted to learn how to on my wheel. Navaho plying creates a three ply yarn, where you can change colors without getting the barbershop poll effect.
Here’s the difference in pictures:

This yarn is a two ply, one single was spun out of white wool, the other from different colored wool carded together. I like the way the white ties all the different colors together.

This is the three ply yarn. It was created by spinning up one long single then creating loops to spin the single into 3 ply. You can see how the color changes are preserved, for the most part, because you are using the same part of the single with itself. Here’s the video I used to learn how to do it. You want to skip past the boring part at the beginning, about 49 seconds in. The lady shows you how to do it in real time, and then slows the video down so you can better see what she is doing.

I'm still spinning the left over fiber from the from the spinning 101 and 201 classes, carding it into interesting color blends that I’m then going to Navaho ply. I cannot deny that the wool is itchy to the sensitive, and it’s not very soft. This I think this is due to the fiber and not really because of the way I'm spinning it, although it is probably over spun. No surprise there. Still it is “practice” fiber so I don’t feel about it being a little wonky. And I’ve found the project once I’m done. A Felted Spinning Wheel Bag is exactly what I need. I may even add some doodads like this person did.