quivering loveliness

Quickly, quickly, before the children find me.*

Thank you for all of your thoughts and offers for the mitten tree. Please keep spreading the word. 

Also, a few clarifications -- any type of mitten is fine. Knitting is great and so is crochet or sewn or quilted. The only hard and fast requirement is green. My plan is to put the tree up in November of 2013 in Project Anthologies shop window. My hope is that I can also put a few more up in other windows -- but we'll see.**

In case you need one, Red Heart has a fine free basic mitten pattern. I'll link to more as I stumble on them.

In other news, we had our monthly tri-family dinner last night. The theme wound up being pseudo-Mexican, mostly because the Pie Goddess had a freezer full of tamales and I wanted to make this cake:



I can't even tell you how yummy this Magic Chocolate Flan Cake**** was. Worth every dang calorie. It might be my lunch, too. Because we don't need no steeenking nutrition around these parts.

And, now, on with the rest of the day. Woo?


* They have the day off; I do not. We're about to launch ourselves into a peripatetic day of moving from place to place in which little of import will get done, I suspect, but we will try. You know how it goes.

** I also have a big box of fleece, which I rediscovered after the dog kept nibbling on little tufts of it, that I might drive around various folk to help me make it into green yarn and then mittens.*** But the Fleece Train is still in the planning stages. Holler if you might want in.

*** (with apologies to Clara.)

**** Cook's Country hides the recipe behind a subscription wall. Sorry. But their picture is a lot better than mine. 

comfort me with mittens

The Newtown school massacre -- call it what it is -- is still with me, like it is with so many. A month on, I'm angry and sad and disgusted. 

We need to do something about guns. We need to do something about mental health care. No, I don't know exactly what that is -- but what we have now clearly isn't working

And while we thrash through what ought to be done, with the conversation growing increasingly toxic, I do what I seem to do when the national discourse is so fraught and sorrow so fresh, which is knit until I have a better sense of how to move forward.

You may do the same. And for “knit,” feel free to insert the word of your choice, like “golf” or “exercise” or “rant.” We find our own ways to cope.

Shortly after I heard about the Newtown shootings, I saw a picture of a Norwegian tree made entirely of hand-knitted mittens.  

No one can argue against the inherent loveliness of mittens. (They could, of course, because people can argue about anything. But I think we can all agree that the mitten-haters have larger issues.)

The mitten tree gave me a strange kind of hope and, because I don’t respond well to strange hope, it caused a plan to percolate in the back of my head. How cool would it be to line the shop windows in my town with mitten trees? My town could be any town, frankly. It could be Newtown. It could also be your town, if you adjust for scale.

Will mittens save the word? Reform our gun laws? Bring kids back? No. But they might start a conversation. We work with what we have.

I’d like to have help with making the mittens or funding yarn for others to make mittens. I’d like to plant mitten trees in other places, too. After the holidays, the mittens would be donated to local charities. Or, maybe, auctioned off for the Brady Center? I’m still in the planning phases on that part. (I'm also planning a book about mittens and fiber and knitters and sheep - but more will be revealed later.)

Right now, I’m more interested in seeing who I can rope in for the journey. Would you be willing to help me out with a blog post? Or a re-post? Some mittens? Corporate support? Cupcakes? 

Actually, the cupcakes would just be for me. I plan better when there is frosting.

If you're ready to start, here are the details: make your mittens any green you'd like. Make them of a size to fit human -- kid or adult -- hands. Wool would be nice but not required. Knitted would be nice but not required. Send me an email and I'll send you a mailing address. 

Spread this post far and wide. Let's see what happens.

actual knitting content + general sloth

I seem to have finished the shawl.


The pattern was La La's Simple Shawl (Rav link)  done with three skeins of Noro Yuzen in the evocatively named Color #4, Lot B. I had to do that thing that knitters do toward the end of the last skein, where you guess how many more rows and a bind-off you can get out of what's left. I cut it close:


Victory is mine.

It's been busy around here, as it usually is at the end of the term. The Featureless Saint has been doing back-to-back shows, I'm dealing with a variety of group projects, the Boy gnawed through his lip and the Diva has a cold. My response? Spinning.*


I may have some other fiber on deck, too:


It's 4 oz of 100 percent Corriedale from Woolen Mill St Yarns, purchased from the Loopy Ewe. The colorway is "Tardis." Because if I can't have one, I can at least spin one.

Speaking of spacey-wacey-timey-wimey things, there was a rare alignment of bodies the other day:


(you might have to click on the picture in order to see all three planetary spheres. McGregor may have his own gravity by now.)


* also running. But I have no pictures of that, unless it would be a picture of my incredibly muscular thighs. The whippet-thin runner physique is just not going to be expressed by my solid peasant genes. Still, I'm who you want to hang out with during a famine because I won't have to eat much. So there's that.**

** Oh - and I'm running a 5K on Saturday. More on that later. 

actual spinning content

After a few days of furious plying, some yarn is born:


The last, like, 20 feet of it kept finding new ways to be a complete arse (tangling, breaking, overplied, feh) so I made it it's own little skein because it just wouldn't play well with the others:


As for spinning, I'm a little afraid of how much I'm enjoying it. It's normal to want to spin all the fibers, yes?

McGregor's opinion remains hard to translate: 



Any thoughts on what I should make with my new yarn?

actual spinning content + a sign that we've survived

I'm falling more and more in love with my Briar Rose roving every day. 


I love it so much that I have another whole bobbin full.


Yes, it's totally wobbly and uneven. I care not. I think it will all work out when I ply. Or, you know, not. But either way, I'm starting to really enjoy the process so I'm good. 

I have discovered that McGregor is even sillier than previously imagined. My borrowed spinning wheel (thanks Ang!) is a Louet S10 DT . There is a circular cut out in the main wheel, which, when the light is right, flashes a spot of sun onto the floor in a regular pattern. The Greg cannot resist trying to kill the evil, evil brightness. 

Silly kitty.

Speaking of, it appears we have once again survived the time of bitter cold and constant dark. I know this because of these:



I also have some daffodils *thisclose* to blooming. Given that I know longer remember what sort I planted, it will be a complete surprise what pops out. 

running and spinning

On Feb. 8, I started running. I am not, by any definition of the word, athletic.* But I was about to turn 40, which was a good reason to try something new. Given that I'm saving heroin for my 85th birthday (because, well, why not?), running seemed like the best choice. 

Reader, I love it. Mostly. For relatively flexible definitions of love.

 In August, I bought one of those Nike+** dohickies that you put on your shoe to keep track of distance. And because the Mike people are evil geniuses, you can get the summation of your previous year on their site. 

I nearly fell over. From 30 August until Dec. 31, I ran 299 km/185 miles. I find this astounding. From nearly nothing to more than halfway from my house to Montreal. (At the end of 2011, I was in Keeseville.) 

Consider my mind blown. 

And on the topic of other things I thought I'd never do, I plied that last little bit of blue yarn. 


This is pre-bath. Yes, I overplied. A lot. Sometimes, I really overcompensate.


My high-tech drying rig.



Done. The ply didn't relax as much as hoped. Can't wait to see what it looks like once knitted.


Reunited. Cos, you know, I feels so good.


* I wasn't even a mathlete. 

** It's not the best dohicky ever but it gets the job done well enough.

actual spinning content + my fan club

I might have made some yarn.


It's not the world's prettiest yarn, nor is it anything resembling evenly spun and plied*.


But it is mine-all-mine and I made it. Perhaps it'll be a hat. Or I may have it framed. 

I had to improvise a Lazy Kate, tho, just like my pioneer foremothers**:


It's amazing what one can do with a shoebox, some ancient knitting needles and the internets.

I did wind up with a wee bit of the blue leftover. I'd hate to waste it.


Anyone know how to ply from one bobbin? Or is there some complex formula for finding the center and working from there?

While I did my little dance of glee, the cheering squad did what they do best...


... which is more or less nothing.


*Especially plied. Apparently, I forgot everything I'd read about plying when it was time to ply.

** Note: my ancestors weren't pioneers. Farmers, yes; pioneers, not so much. 

here's the mail, it never fails, it makes me want to wag my tail

Two packages arrived during the last week.*

The first was from Briar Rose Fiber and was dyed just for me. Because I'm that special. ***


It's Sea Pearl in a tealy blue. Love. It's for this pattern, which I bought at the Retreat a few weeks back. I can't wait to get started, which won't happen until after the holidays but, for now, I can just look at it an sigh every now and again.

Also in the post, a box o' mutant fleece:


This will require more planning. I've never washed/carded/spun a whole fleece. I'm not even certain where to start. But I can't tell you how excited I am to do so.

The trick will be keeping the cats from destroying it. The box alone has already generated buckets of feline excitement. I think they think there's an actual sheep in there, one who needs chasing and/or grooming.


* Actually, a lot of packages arrived during the past week. Most of those are gifts for people who are not me.** These are the two packages I'll talk about now.

** And, yes, quite a few are from small indie online stores, because I live in a smallish town that has only a few small indie local stores to shop from. And none of them sell yarn or fiber.

*** This isn't true. Chris will dye just for you if you ask her nicely, I suspect. She's a good egg.

small blue thing

Hey, look! I'm making yarn!


(Please ignore my old dirty windows. That's where the best light was.)

The roving is BFL from Serendipity that I picked up (and paid for) at Cummington. The spindle was included. I've heard tell that spinning BFL can be surprising but I don't know enough to know. So far, so good. We'll see what happens if/when I ply.

The spinning itself is going much better. The biggest change I made was to switch to the inchworn method, which might mean that it will take, conservatively, 10 years to produce enough yarn to make a baby hat. But trying to keep the spindle spinning and my hands handling was too much for my brain. It felt like the spindle was a slightly rapid squirrel whose unpredictability really messed with my world view. Eventually, I'm going to move on to a more traditional approach to the spindle. For now, tho, slow is good.

(Also eventually, I'm going to have to move what I've spun onto ... something. Some kind of bobbin analogue, since I haven't any bobbins. Suggestions? I've heard straws are popular.)

The other reason the spinning is going better is that I spent some quality time with Quinn, who is a marvelous teacher.* ** She ran me through both spindle and wheel (want one!) and helped me make this:


My first wee ickle skeinlette of yarn, spun from Quinn's husband's family's sheep. I will love it for ever. 

Look! Another shot:


I can see how this spinning thing can consume you. This might not be a good discovery...


* Go take her classes at Halcyon.  (Especially this one.)

** Annabel is also a great teacher. I just needed more intensive instruction. My hands and my eyes aren't exactly uber coordinated. 

shameless self-promotion, 341 in a series + what I did this weekend

The obligatory holiday promo:

If you should be so inclined, copies of Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously can be purchased from all of your favorite retailers. And, if you'd like a signed and dedicated copy*, please send Michele at the Green Toad Bookstore an email. We can make it work.

Also, should you want to see The Sweater Itself in person, I'll be rumbling through the northeast. On Thursday, Dec., 16 from 6-8 p.m. at the Yarn Sellar in York, ME; Friday, Dec. 17 from 3-7 p.m. at The Woolery in Wilton, NH; and on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 1-3 p.m. at Metaphor Yarns in Shelburne, MA.**

In other news, I'm learning a new skill.


So far, I can honestly say two things - 1) McGregor really, really likes unspun wool and 2) I hate spinning. 


My hope is that it gets less hateful as you go. But right now, well, sticking forks in my eyes seems like a viable alternative.

I'd welcome words of encouragement. Anyone?


* I'll write anything you'd like me to, within reason. Sometimes, I even draw stuff.

** This is the plan. I'll keep you posted should the weather decide to change things. It shouldn't but it *is* December.