Yes, yes, I realize it’s March of 2021. So, lets talk about February of 2020! Specifically, the Knitter’s Almanac. To get you caught up…I have not completed the January project of a highly cabled Aran sweater. February seems a bit more reasonable…baby clothes.
On the left, we have Elizabeth Zimmerman’s glorious plan. The two on the right are what I had done by the end of February 2020. I started by doing the changing pad (the one in the middle), but relatively quickly realized that wasn’t gong to get done, so I decided to see if I could finish the sweater instead. It’s a SUPER quick knit, I just didn’t bail to it until towards the end of the month. So, clearly, no, I could not finish the sweater. Had I *just* done the sweater, then yes, I would have.
Update on this, the pad is a double knit, in that it’s do the border, slip 1, knit 1, then do the other border, turn. All the ones you slipped, you now knit, and the ones you knit you now slip. This makes a double thick fabric, with the wrong side on the inside. It’s a great pattern/project to do to ease yourself into more complicated double knitting. But, the changing pad is a relatively large project, and you are in effect making 2, just both at the same time. So, it sits by my desk at work, and when I’m on hold, or in a meeting, I can get a few stitches in here and there. It was also my lights out project, so I’ve gotten it close to being done….just not close enough.
I’ve done literally nothing more on that sweater. Other than disconnecting the needle tips for other projects, and putting them back on when I’m done. I so love interchangeable circular needles. 🙂
While I seem to be posting these Knitter’s Almanac thoughts on Fridays, they really aren’t failures for me. Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer that I didn’t complete my stated goal. But, goals are things that are just out of reach. If we could always reach our goals, they wouldn’t need to be goals, they would just be things we are doing. That being said, there’s a difference between not trying and not succeeding. I legitimately tried, and we are getting to some months where I succeeded. I want to be careful here that you don’t “hear” me give you permission to never stretch what you think your boundaries might be.
Firstly, you don’t need my permission for anything. (Unless you do, and you know who you are!) I’m a bunch of random words on your screen of choice, and am here for entertainment purposes only. Secondly, though, stretching is good! Generally, the worst thing that happens is you decide not to do that thing again. The cost/benefit analysis, for ME makes it worth stretching a bit. Not all the time, mind you. There is clearly something to be said for the soothing comfort of the rivers and the lakes that you are used to. (Ha! those of us of a certain age have that song in our heads now)
Before I leave you tonight, I’ll share one small EZ related bon mot. I’m taking a quilting class (yes, yes, I’ll share about that later, I am quite behind on so many things). Sunday night, our homework for this Saturday (by noon) was to complete 20 quilt blocks 10.5″ x 10.5″, plus the sashing in between. So…the entire top. I have been frantically sewing in all my spare moments, and I have completed 6 blocks. I have GB tonight, so I won’t be getting much more done. When telling Poopie of my homework earlier this week, his response was “Is Elizabeth Zimmerman teaching this class?” Clearly, she is. So, that’s my fail, I’m not going to have my homework done. Think they’ll believe the baby ate it?
One of the hidden benefits of the pandemic has been what’s been available remotely. Granted, people have been pretty upset about how there have been a lot of accommodations that businesses/employers have said they couldn’t do in the before times, but now in pandemic, they are being done without issue (I’m looking at you work from home). On a less serious note in that same vein, I’ve been able to attend Stitches at Home. I’ve taken a class in each of the 2 sessions I’ve been aware of (February and March). This time (March), I took a fabulous sewing class. It’s classic quilt blocks done in a scrappy, wonky way. People who know me IRL know that I LOVE scraps.
I really, really do. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll talk about it some more. I love being able to take something unwanted and turn it into something beautiful and appreciated. My poor Poopie thinks this is a lot of scraps. Sorry, I forgot to warn you to put down your beverage of choice. If you snorted your drink, apologies. Really, this is nothing, it’s just part of ONE paper bag. And, wonder of all wonders, it’s not all me. I love when people give me their scraps. It’s fun to me to see what they’ve been working on. And it expands my palette. So, if you have unloved scraps, you can leave them on my doorstep, and I’ll love them 🙂
Back to my class…I hadn’t heard of Shibaguyz prior to this class (https://www.designz.shibaguyz.com/). I am poorer for this. They are an incredible duo, and so much fun. I really wish this class was in person. One of the things I’ve complained about before, and I’ll complain about again and again, is how in our crafting world, we end up with crafting police. Unless you are submitting your work for competition, crafting police are completely unnecessary. These people are the ones who tell you your seams aren’t pressed flat enough. They are the ones who tell you there is only ONE way to do a specific thing. These guyz are not crafting police, and they go out of their way to reaffirm YOUR work should be what pleases YOU, in the manner that pleases YOU. Photo credit to Shibaguyz.
Crafters know that we have “go to” colors. Some people make things in shades of purple, others find every fiber they are drawn to is blue. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Some of us recognize we have these preferences, and go out of our way to explore other colors. We buy that orange that we don’t have any experience with, and find out that it turns out it’s the PERFECT color for a project. For me, never going outside my color comfort zone would make me sad because it’s just not as interesting to me. Sharing/swapping scraps is an easy, no fuss way of testing out different things you would normally be hesitant to try as well as getting rid of some of your stuff that you know you won’t ever finish/do. Or….you could do what I did last week while shopping for my sashing fabric, and grab some fat 1/8ths in an underrepresented color.
I still love taking classes, even though I could probably just craft away for the rest of my life with what I know. Some classes, I leave feeling like I could have learned it from a book. Other classes, I learn so much my head explodes. My favorite ones are the ones where I learn just one tiny tidbit that may or may not have anything to do with the subject matter. This, In my experience, largely depends on the instructor.
I have found with just about anything, there are certain levels of knowledge. Beginners know they don’t know anything and will ask all sorts of questions and absorb information like a sponge. Advanced beginners know how to do what they like, but have listened to too many gatekeepers (crafting police), so are unsure of themselves. Intermediates know enough to have started to believe and parrot the gatekeepers, many are nascent gatekeepers. Advanced are the gatekeepers–they have a rule for every question, they often think they are experts. Real experts, though…they are not gatekeepers. There may be legitimate safety rules, but other than that they are the epitome of the newest (to me) gen X meme: F*ck around and find out. With a beginner, they’ll say “I do it like this”…because a true beginner needs to have a direction, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only direction. With advanced beginners and intermediates, they’ll say “hmmm…I don’t know, why don’t you try that?”, or “ooh, that sounds interesting, let me know how that turns out”, and sometimes “when I’ve done that, I got this result, which didn’t work for me at that time”. A really good expert responds to advanced questions by….LOL. Trick question, gate keepers don’t actually ask questions. In classes, they are the people who’s question is a statement of their gatekeeping either with an upward inflection at the end to make you think they are asking a question, or “isn’t that right?”. If you find yourself doing this in ANY situation, apologize, lower your hand, and realize you are the equivalent of a teenage know it all. You’ll grow out of it, hopefully. Also applies if you start off any sentence with “Well, actually”. And yes, I know this is a bit of gatekeeping. I’m not claiming to be an expert blogger, or even an expert human.
If you find yourself with an advanced teacher, know that they DO know a lot. Don’t completely discount what they are saying, because those gatekeeping rules are there for a reason, they have the most consistent success rate for whatever the established success is. If that is what you are going for, great. I’ve been told it’s the Sagittarius in me that wants to know all the rules so I know when and how to break them. I listened to my fair share of gatekeeping. I’ve, unfortunately, done my share of gatekeeping (again, apologies D and C). I was well into my 30’s before I had the epiphany above about the different levels. It took some phenomenal classes and instructors in knitting and spinning for me to see the pattern, and then I realized it actually extrapolates to all of life (that I’ve experienced).
We actually talked about this in my last session of the class. Someone had said they were told an always or never (I don’t remember which). The Shibaguyz handled that perfectly. Firstly, as true experts, they highly encourage taking classes with multiple teachers. They explicitly said that other teachers have other ways that may work better for us, they also can explain things in a way that maybe wasn’t catching with us. Secondly, they encouraged us to respectfully ask why? Why is that the only way to do something? Why do we never do this other thing? There may be legitimate reasons, or maybe there are gatekeeping reasons.
Classes may not be something that is feasible for you (maybe for cost, time, or something else). If that’s the case, there are local guilds, and/or groups. Barring all else, there are online groups you can join. Even if the local group/guild isn’t really what you are wanting/expecting from your support group for your skill of choice, try them out. You may find that their orange really pops in your work. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll try out a little of your purple. If you are a bit unsure of joining a group by yourself, do what I do, and become an enabler. Rope the friends/family you can stand into your obsession of choice. D and I started a group over a decade ago. It’s had people come and go for various reasons. I can tell you that a diverse group fixes the gatekeeping problem. I can say there’s only one way to do something, but then L will stare me straight in the eye, as she’s doing it a different way. Or, I could say, “you should never do this thing”, but C will lift up the project where she did just that thing I said to never do.
I did my thesis on community, and a lot of research has been done (by people actually qualified to do research) on the effects the loss of community organizations (ie guilds) have had on our communities. Learning to deal with and work with people who are different from you is an important life skill. Hearing everyone’s voices makes a better song. I don’t think I need to expand on how this applies to all aspects of our lives. Instead, here’s a song for you to enjoy. Its about celebrating differences, in ourselves, and others. Also, look forward to seeing my wonky blocks, which are all named after musical artists.
I’ve discussed before the need to be documenting what you do. I’m not that great at it when it comes to crafting, though. The featured picture is my weaving “journal”. I really only use when I’m making a pattern in the weft, since that is what I’m actively doing, and I don’t want to unwind everything to figure out if I did 6 inches or 8 inches in that stripe. I also use it to doodle my patterning for my warp. I have x number of spaces, and I want y number of stripes, but I want z number such and such a width. For everyone who thought math wouldn’t help them…I have to draw pictures…and I actually did pretty good in math. As you can see, I futz, and then end up with “nothing like this”. But I guess it’s a place to start, right?
So, what is my “failure”? I didn’t figure out how much yarn I was starting with. I had teal and lavender, and then a variegated mess of the two. I knew I wanted stripes of the solid, and make the weft the variegated. This was “found” yarn. I have no idea where or when I got it, but it came without bands, and so I just kind of went for it.
I was going to have a perfectly symmetrical warp, so, I started in the middle and worked my way out, and yeah, not enough yarn. Oops. That’s OK, though! One of my favorite sayings is “If you don’t have a Plan B, you don’t have a Plan”. I’m pretty sure I first heard that on NCIS because I’ve ALWAYS been an old lady. I had some left over teal from the yarn potluck, I figured I’d just add that into the mix and see. This is even adding that in, and I’m still not balanced AT ALL. Plus, I ran out of the teal potluck yarn.
So, yeah, that didn’t work either. My entryway was out of commission for a day until I could get more of the potluck yarn to finish up the warp. (Poor Poopie) As you can see, there really ended up being almost no rhyme or reason to the stripes, though it looks like there should be. When these things happen, I think fondly of my BFF from high school, A. We would go to our friend’s house for lunch, where they had a wall hanging that *ALMOST* had a pattern to the quilt blocks. If you pulled off this row, then the remainder had a pattern, or if you pulled from the other side, the rest would have a pattern. It drove A batty. This stripe pattern looks like it should have a pattern, and just maybe you aren’t smart enough to see it. If you see it, you are smarter than me. This is what happens when you don’t properly prepare, and neither Plans A nor B really work out.
I am confident enough in my weaving that this isn’t a big deal. Also, despite what I have thought for years and years, I am a process crafter. There’s a school of thought that one is either a “process” (knitter, but I’m substituting crafter), or a “product”. Are you in it for the process? or just the finished product? I’ve always thought I’m a product crafter, since in so much of my life I’m so goal-oriented. However, I’ve had to come to terms that I’m not necessarily what I always thought I was. I’m taking a journey, not arriving at a destination. Since I’m not trying to make something in particular, there isn’t a place I’m heading, so I can’t get lost. For those of you who know me IRL and are confused…this is in crafting ONLY. And ONLY when I don’t have a Project in mind. I can be Zen with whatever comes. IRL, I have obligations I need to meet. I cannot just be Zen with whatever comes, because that could mean I’m not able to fulfill my obligations. When I’m making a Project, Poopie can attest that the frustrations of gauge not working or colors not being right drives me to tears. As I’ve stated before, I have no weaving obligations. I make cloth. That’s it. Cloth. And you are the A hole for trying to make it more. So, maybe I have a “direction” I’m going, I’m heading towards Cloth, as long as I’m still heading in that direction, I’m good.
This is the weaving I was doing during my experiment with living without electricity. (Like the spin I put on that awful week?) But, one of the warp threads broke, and while totally fixable, it wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing by candlelight. One of the things I love about crafting is that all of the problems in crafting (unlike life) can be fixed. By me. Even if the fix is tearing it all out, and never looking at it again. This wasn’t that drastic an issue. I can fix a broken warp thread. See?
Yes, these pictures are all the same project. The difference in light makes a huge difference, and is a major reason why I miss buying fiber in person. I just can’t tell over the computer screen what color something is. I’d also like you to note the subtleness that all the cross colors create. It almost looks like it should be plaid. Again, A’s brain would explode. In most of my crafting, as long as I don’t let anyone see the pattern (you know, like the weaving journal I posted at the top), I’m golden. I made Cloth. No one has any way of knowing I wanted North Cloth, and ended up with South Cloth. Except, Dear Reader, I’m letting you in on my secret. I’m counting on you to keep it.
There’s another lesson in here about colors mixing, and the unexpected joys that can bring, but I’m tired right now, and it’s not quite formulating for me. I’m going to go and watch a serial killer documentary and work on some more weaving. Have a great weekend!
I’m not sure if I’ve told you, or just think I’ve told you, but in 2020, my “New Years Resolution” was to knit out of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac. Well, this is (the end of) February 2021, and I’m talking about January of 2020. So, that really tells you all you need to know about that particular endeavor.
The left shows what I was “supposed” to have completed in January. The right shows what was done. I’m assuming she was thinking of us finishing just one sweater…but who the hell knows what goes on in her noggin. Now, to be fair to Ms. Zimmerman, I had to restart a couple times because gauge. The yarn is some yarn I spun forever ago. I’m not positive of the fiber. Because I never noted it, because clearly, how could I ever forget?? The discerning reader may notice the different color yarns in my knitted work. I had played with dying with Oregon Grape berries. I did half the yarn, and now I have to deal with THAT decision. So, the sweater is going to have some subtle striping.
I’m not sure it’s necessary to spell out the many lessons here. I’ll do it anyway, at least some of them.
Always label your fiber. At every step. You won’t remember.
Be cautious when experimenting with knitting amounts of fiber…you are going to be stuck figuring out how to use this stuff.
Never believe a kindly old British knitter when she tells you you can knit a sweater in a month.
The fact of the matter is that I will have to rip this out YET AGAIN. I got gauge, but my forever fight with gauge means that the sweater is still too small. I do, however, have enough done that I can feel confident measuring the *actual* gauge. Somehow, I epitomize the concept of “works on paper….but…” I mean, seriously, I got the right number of stitches per inch, I checked my maths, and still too small. Like, not even putting Poopie on a starvation diet will do it. And don’t think I didn’t consider that, Dear Reader.
Last year, I thought this year I would try working on the same months’ projects and finish up. I.e. I’d finish the January 2020 project in January 2021. I was wrong. I have several other works in progress that I’m working on instead. Plus, doing this resolution really hampered me, and made me less happy than I thought it would.
Throughout my mental health journey, professionals have opined that I may be happier if I were more focused. Keep in mind that in the real world, people who deal with me opine that I’m TOO focused. I didn’t intend for this to be an experiment in that, but it turned out to be. It turns out that I’m not happier focusing on just one thing. I get bored (as well as other more complicated feelings) if I *have* to do something. If that something is one of several projects, I don’t seem to have those issues so much. What has worked for me is to commit to working for a time period, or to a certain point every day (week/month/whatever). For example, work one repeat of this pattern and then work on something else. Or do an hour of picking up the house, and then an hour of binge (un) worthy TV.
As I had said earlier, the craziness of pandemic didn’t help this project, but January was NOT pandemic, so I can’t blame this on plague. To re iterate my defense of the esteemed Ms. Zimmerman, I was working with random hand spun, so I had to futz with gauge quite a bit. She had been so practiced, she probably had a go to yarn, and go to needles, which I did (do) not. So, a good several days to a week was spent in design and gauge. I don’t think this time was taken into consideration in her calculations. I still don’t think a working person with any semblance of a life outside of knitting should aspire to complete a cabled Aran sweater in a month. That being said, just because I couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean YOU can’t do it. Just… don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do it. Trust me, I did enough beating up for all of us.
Clearly, I’m not getting to February 2020 in February 2021, but I’ll try to get caught up.
Once again, it seems that life conspires against me. I start to get into a groove, and then something comes along to shake it up. I had so many good intentions of getting at least one post done this last weekend, and finishing up/starting a couple more so future Me would have things easy. We knew we were supposed to have an ice storm last Friday, so Poopie made sure to have us all stocked up so we wouldn’t have to go anywhere over the weekend. I was going to be watching the Red Alder interviews in the evenings and while away the days doing whatever craft, and finding a new show to binge watch. I’m sure he had his plans which likely involved loud music, either listening to, or creating.
And then our power went out Friday night. There went all of my plans for the weekend. As well as the following week. We were without power for 12 hours shy of a full week, just getting it back yesterday morning.
So we come to hoarding. Or…allusions to hoarding. For over a decade, I have dealt with not so thinly veiled criticisms of me keeping things. Don’t go thinking it was just from Poopie, I also hear from other people who have no problems giving me their unsolicited opinions on my things. There are many reasons why I keep Useful Things. I mean, firstly, they are Useful Things. I have Plans for them. Yes, I have many Plans; and some do not come to fruition, but some DO! Secondly, I grew up poor enough that we couldn’t afford to throw out Useful Things. Take paper bags, they can be reused for all sorts of things: garbage sacks, and just…sacks. Book covers as well. No, I’m not old enough for that to have been a “thing”, school mates thought I was weird…of course, this was not the only evidence for their thinking that way. Paper bags also were wrapping paper. Fun fact: this year, they were again. That’s saying nothing of fabric, string, yarn, stuffing, etc…
I’ve already mentioned this, but way last March, when we needed to start wearing masks, but there weren’t enough of the disposable kind (and who wants to keep making more garbage????), I found a pattern for a relatively easy mask. I could actually make 2 out of a single fat quarter. But…why would I use up my fat quarters? I still had a ton of fabrics left over from goodness knows what else because I’ve inherited a BUNCH of fabric scraps. Friends and family all know I’ll welcome them. In fact, for one of Thing 2’s birthday parties, instead of goodie bags for the guests, she wanted purses, so I made a bunch of simple purses out of scraps I had gotten from my MIL (which included her mom’s stuff, I believe). I think she (MIL) enjoyed the memories of a skirt or dress she had made herself in school. I’ll be honest, I take a great amount of pride in making things from scraps that look like they are supposed to look that way. I love making trash into treasure, and I fancy myself good at it.
Shocking no one, I digress….back to cutting up scraps for masks. I made some for our household, for my in laws, for the households of my mom, sister, and aunt. Basically anyone who wanted them. The only thing I needed to purchase was the elastic. I did not have a hoard stash of that. I was also able to make a bunch of masks to donate to various drives. Again, with very little out of pocket. And the time spent making masks was time I didn’t spend dreading/worrying like so many others. I’ll try to talk about this “trick” of mine in another post.
When the wildfires came, and the local charities were gathering toiletries for fire refugees, all those tiny bottles of shampoos, and little wrapped hotel soaps, and who knows what else I dragged out of my linen closet were put to good use. See? Not hoard — stash. Not junk — Useful Things.
We’ve been the family way station for firewood. Got extra wood that needs burning? It ends up at our house. Anyone going on a camping trip calls up, and they end up grabbing a load of wood from us. We have a fireplace in our house, so it makes sense for us to have the wood. We don’t heat with it. My house was built in 1979, so the fireplace is more ornamental than functional. Unless our electricity is out for almost a week. It’s still more ornamental than functional, but we managed to keep the living room at 50 degrees, while the rest of the house was 40-42. This lovely picture is of Poopie restocking the wood by the front door. He’s wearing the helmet because while the temperature was warming the next morning, that just meant giant ice chunks were falling from the cedar. He said it was a good thing he was wearing the helmet considering the loud crashing he kept hearing in the helmet.
And for my final “hoarding” story….the candles from our wedding…11 years ago. I had an evening wedding in winter. Instead of flowers everywhere, there were candles. What do you do with a metric ton of 1/2 burned candles? (Actually, just one under bed sized tote) I mean, no one wants them, but I can’t just throw them away. It’s not like they’ll go bad. Well, we went through about half that tub. I was so very glad I had that hoard stash of candles. Especially since I still haven’t received the tapers I ordered online yet. Sitting in the dark, even with your spouse is depressing…I assume. I didn’t have to find out…because I was prepared with a stash of candles.
I was able to use the electricity at my local volunteer gig for my computer for my day job. But, I’d come home just as it was getting dark. So lots of candlelight. We do have electric lanterns, but they don’t really give off much more light it turns out than the candles do, and the light isn’t as nice. I was able to channel our textile fore bearers (finally! she gets to some textiles!) during our outage. I sat by the fire and spun up the last of the random fiber I had been spinning when I last chatted with you. I now need to figure out how/what to ply it with. I couldn’t before because I didn’t have enough light to be able to see, but I’m hoping to figure that out tomorrow. It wasn’t light enough for me to weave. It might have been, but I broke a warp on Saturday, and the light was never good enough for me to confidently fix it. I spent most evenings knitting on one of last year’s Knitter’s Almanac projects (more on that elsewhere).
I have been keeping my patterns on a cool app in my iPad, and working off that. That meant I wasn’t able to work on either the shawl or scarf I have on needles because I didn’t want to drain my iPad. Basically, I was hoarding conserving the power I did have. I did realize that the lighting with candles probably isn’t good enough if trying to do a project that you need to refer to a pattern for, anyway. My black out knitting was an easy peasy double knit single color. garter edge, k1, sl1wif. all the way to the garter edge, turn, repeat.
Honestly, the roughest part for me was the job portion, the computer set up going to a laptop was terrible. The desk was an ergonomic nightmare as well…my back is still super unhappy with me. At home, we were able to borrow a generator to keep our freezer running, so we lost a minimal amount of food. We have no kids at home, so the only whining was our own. Of course, if it had to go much longer, I’m not sure how sanguine I could continue to be, I was starting to feel the strain. I spent today watching Franklin Habit on YouTube which has restored my knitting zen.
The blackout knitting just wasn’t enough to rejuvenate my zen. After this year, with pandemic, wildfires, surgery, other family issues, and now this, I think it’s fairly reasonable that I was seeing cracks in my zen. The blackout knitting was definitely keeping the beasts at bay, but I am always grateful for any added assistance.
Back to my thesis. These examples show that it’s not hoarding if you use it. Sometimes, if you have the resources, it makes sense to set aside for the rainy (insert plaguey, firey, or icey) day (week, month, year). And if you find you have some good fabric or yarn that needs a home, Poopie doesn’t have access to this site’s email…just sayin’ 😉
This is the story of spinning wheels. Both figurative and literal. Let’s start with figurative.
Because we are still dealing with the pandemic, I’m still talking about it. My main entertainments throughout the year (in the before times) were fiber festivals. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so we have a plethora of fiber festivals….usually. Last year, everyone was trying to figure out what the parameters of the virus were, how quickly it spread, exactly how it spread, etc… So, even though many/most fiber festivals are largely outdoors, no one had enough information to make an informed decision on risk, so they all cancelled. Which was sad for me. My vacation time almost exclusively revolves around these festivals.
Last year, I wasn’t concerned for all the closures, and wasn’t SUPER sad. After all, that left me more time to scrub sand into the cracks of pavers. And I was saving SO MUCH MONEY. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I don’t have to spend as much as some, as the events tend to be well within driving distance. Granted, some of that money went to said sand and said pavers. Most of it went to paying down home improvements. So yeah, I’m back to where I would have been, but I don’t have all the stories or fiber to show for it, which is sad. Poopie is happy I’m working down my stashes. He’s less happy about all the partial projects going on. I’m not spending time talking about that right now, though.
We are now in the “second wave” of infections, which we all knew (or should have known) was going to happen. Everyone going back indoors means less airflow between the germ bag that is me, and the germ bag that is you. Quarantine fatigue is also a thing. We are a social species, so this distancing is draining, and people are more willing to “make exceptions”. Every culture/religion I am aware of has a gathering in the middle of their winter. Because even without the world being a disaster, the shorter days and isolation are rough. Even without money in times of economic recession, we can usually still find ways to celebrate, and lean on the fact that being together is what’s important. But we can’t even do that right now. (well, we can, but it involves haz mat suits, and/or technology that no one can seem to get right–echos, looking up people’s noses, etc..). So we make plans for next year, in hopes we can gather again.
How does this relate to figurative spinning wheels? We are in a collective holding pattern, figuratively spinning our wheels. We are starting to get notifications that fiber festivals are evaluating whether to have shows for 2021. Black Sheep announced they won’t. And I don’t blame them. There is so much lead time that goes into an event. For an annual event, the organizers are planning for the next year as the event is happening. We *might* be OK for summer events, with the combination of vaccinations and outdoor venues, but with many of the public who come being in high risk groups, I don’t blame the organizers from making the call to hold off. Instead of throwing their energy into something that may or may not pan out, they are putting their efforts into making 2022 the best possible year.
Some have decided to do abbreviated virtual events, but that’s an entirely different skill set, and different organizational considerations make the change over more challenging than you might think (ask any teacher who’s having to teach virtually right now). We are still spinning our wheels. And I’m a participant, not a vendor. My heart goes out to them. The ranchers can’t tell their flocks to stop producing wool. So, they are still working hard, and not sure if/when/how they are going to be able to sell. So, if you’ve been saving money, and have the funds, you can go to the websites of the vendors you love, and see if there’s something that calls your name. I know that it’s more difficult when you can’t touch and see with your beady little eyes vs. in person, But you love those vendors because they have what you love. Take a chance on a proven vendor. If you don’t remember their name, maybe go to the sites of the shows you’ve been to, they almost always have vendor lists as part of their previous years’ marketing.
Look, we’ve had pandemics before. We’ve had economic hardships before. We have always recovered. Rarely is it the same as before, and one hopes it’s better and safer than it was. Yes, our wheels are spinning, but we will get out of the quagmire. And some of these things really can be positive. For example, our family is spread out, and we’ve been using technology to be more inclusive during the holidays even before the pandemic. This pandemic is normalizing that. Imagine how much less stress a young family will have if they can video in with part of their family, instead of trying to fit a week’s worth of travel into two days? If these fiber events get virtual going, how much more exposure will small vendors or teachers have when a potential participant doesn’t have to consider travel and lodging? I have never been to Stitches, and likely never would have in the before times. The cost/benefit analysis doesn’t work for me for that event…but guess who’s attending a class at Stitches this weekend?
Take heart, Dear Readers, many of our teachers, believe it or not, came from the tech world, we aren’t as far behind the curve as you may fear. Red Alder is having virtual interviews. I don’t have any inside scoop on that, but they sent out the list of interviewees, and I’m excited. Yes, I’ll miss the hustle and bustle, the touching of goods, seeing the yearly fiber friends. But, it’s not the end of the world. One of said fiber friends is ill right now with COVID. So, the threat is real. We are all hoping for a speedy recovery without permanent repercussions. But, it’s exactly people like her I’m trying to keep safe by not going out.
Enough of that for right now. Lets talk about literal spinning wheels. I had been lusting for a Pocket Wheel for years. It started as a vague crush, kind of like how you crush on a movie or rock star. Yeah, it’d be awesome, but really, I’m fine. But then, I met Jon, the maker of the Pocket Wheel.
I was helping man a booth for a friend of a friend, and he was across the aisle from us. I got to watch his lovely bride spin and spin and spin. I got to speak with both of them, and they are wonderful people. So this is like meeting Ryan Reynolds and finding out he’s just as cool in real life as you hope he is. Your lust deepens. Now it’s not that you want to boink the crush. You want to chill on a dock late at night, and
…talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — Of cabbages — and kings — And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings.’
The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
But, I mean, if boinking is on the table, who am I to say no?
And so it was with my Pocket Wheel. I still lusted, but it was out of reach. First, there was a year long waiting list. When I say Jon makes these wheels, I mean he makes them. Each one. By hand. At each event, I’d see the wheels, and I would sigh. At the last Madrona, Jon and I were talking, and he pointed out that had I ordered one the previous year when we had first started talking, I’d have a wheel by then. Who can argue with that logic?
When I came home, I sighed over and over like I was in a Jane Austen movie, and relayed the conversation…and Poopie told me I should totally start dating Ryan Reynolds. Wait. No, I’m misremembering. He did, however, agree with Jon. I put in my online order, and put my down payment in. My wheel went into production last year. I got to choose my wood. The one sad thing is that I would have liked to have visited the shop to see it, and touch all the things, and pick everything out real time. But with restrictions and all, that wasn’t viable. That’s not too sad a thing though. I got my wheel. And because I haven’t been going to shows, I was able to justify getting the Wooley Winder. What that means for non-spinners is that I don’t have to pause my spinning to move hooks so my spinning fills the bobbin (mostly) evenly. The Wooley Winder has a worm gear so the fiber fills the bobbin absolutely evenly.
Now I have a shiny new wheel. My goodness! this wheel spins like a dream! It spins super fine. EVERYTHING….super fine. My normal spinning is DK weight, but this has been closer to lace. And it’s FAST.
What this means is that I can be spinning my literal wheels while spinning my metaphorical wheels. Because, you know, I couldn’t have been doing that with the other wheels I have. Hush now! I’m stimulating the economy!
Ugh….I tried to schedule this post. That didn’t work. I had also updated the post, but clearly, that didn’t save….so this is an edit. I included the first yarn I spun on my new wheel. Yes, I know it’s overspun, but the wheel and I are still getting used to each other…and did I mention it is FAST?
Trying to find ways to stay connected is a difficulty many of us are facing. I’m a misanthrope, so…eh…not so much. It is funny how often I find myself in this role, though. For most of my work life, I’ve worked “remotely”. I didn’t work inside an office. I reported to the office, but I rarely had to go in. Even when I worked in the office, I supported, or was paired up with people who worked remotely. It’s a different type of rapport building. You can’t just smile at someone as you walk past their desk. You have to be intentional about contact. And some of that contact is dumb. In the office, when you come across an odd name, you can chuckle, and mention something about it, and someone will hear you, and there may be a short interchange. But, in the field, you actually have to pick up the phone and call someone and say “Guess what name I came across?”.
I think I’ve told you a dear friend and I became friends because I misdialed an interoffice number. I happened to catch him on his first day at that company, and because I was used to the weirdness of remote work, I chatted with him. Unbeknownst to me, for several years, he thought I had intentionally called him to check in on his first day. I wish I could lay claim to that kind of thoughtfulness. I can’t. I misremember birthdays. What actually happens is that I remember the birthday at an inopportune time, and then forget to call when I get a chance. But if you want to know that a co-worker’s name makes me giggle every time I see it…well, I’ve probably told you three times. For inquiring minds–his name is Jason Wason. I *know* it must be pronounced Wah-son, not Way-son….but in my head, his parents are jerks that gave him a rhyming name.
I’ve done a whole thesis (literally) on community. My thesis was specifically on the music scene, but since it’s my thesis, I’m extrapolating. And it’s completely extrapolate-able. I’ve read a lot of research on the importance of community groups on social wellbeing. Clearly, one of my social groups is the fiber community. My knitting group hasn’t met since last February (we might have gotten into March, but since I still have N’s birthday gift, I am pretty certain it was February). At the beginning of all this, I had suggested to meet virtually. However, no one was interested. I think it was a combination of us all thinking it was going to be just 6-8 weeks, as well as some fear of the technology. But whatever the real reason. I heard crickets. OK, then.
Then, last fall, when all signs were pointing to this being super long term, they decided to try to meet virtually. I had already started new habits/routines, and then I had recovery, so I was out a couple of times at the beginning. It’s definitely a different thing. In person, there are often long periods of silence when you are just working on your project and enjoying being with each other. Or, we’ll have multiple conversations going on at once, and I go back and forth between a couple of them. Silence on virtual calls is weird and uncomfortable. Some people aren’t used to this format, so have loud/distracting/weird background noises going on. Cross talk is almost impossible, and really should be discouraged. But…one of our very first members moved away several years ago, and doesn’t get to come. Except now, since we are virtual, we get to spend time with her. Another member also moved away during this time, and hasn’t had to stop joining us. So, like with most things, there is both good and bad.
At a virtual retreat…because yes, everyone is trying to navigate this new world…an attendee was talking about a project she and her group of friends do. In this project, they all send her a skein of fingering weight yarn. She splits it up, sends back out mini-skeins, and they work on a project together.
I spoke with my group, and we had enough interest that I decided to try something similar. Poopie called it yarn potluck. So, part of my recovery from surgery was getting squishy presents on my porch and splitting up the yarn into mini balls. Because what I had did not evenly split between the six of us, everyone got a batch of five, and was missing their own. I had SO MANY questions about the yarn. But, the hilarious thing is that pretty much everyone sent in a turquoise-ish color. I KNOW that if I had specified a color, it would have been even more questions (is this too green? is this too blue? is this teal, or turquoise?). But since I didn’t, they pretty much all sent in turquoise. Please excuse the wires, I was doing this on my work desk 🙂
I then had to pick a pattern. This was my genius idea, so it was only fair that I had to figure out the details. I needed something that would lend itself to many pieces of yarn. I wanted something that was relatively simple so that people could personalize. I took an informal poll, and the consensus was for a cowl. So, to Ravelry I went. I found this: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/coulis Simple, easily adaptable if you want to add patterning, yet still beautiful if you don’t want to think. I thought this would be good for our first attempt.
As far as I know, only myself and one other person has finished the cowl (or, frankly, even started on it). But that’s OK. The point isn’t for us to do something specific. The point is for us to feel like a community. I have plans for the next thing, probably in a month or so. I’m thinking of calling it “Steel Wool”. It’s like Iron Chef, but with fiber arts. I will have a challenge fiber, and we will incorporate it into a project. It won’t have to be knitting. It could be crochet, or weaving, or spinning, or collage, or…I don’t know. I’ll probably have that going for 2-3 months, and then try to figure out how to do a Round Robin project.
We keep hearing that we are all in this together. But unless you are naturally a hermit, you probably are having a hard time with how together looks right now. You may have even tried reaching out, but it wasn’t the right medium, or maybe not the right time. Try not to get discouraged. Look, realistically, there probably won’t be any more of my group finishing the cowl. But these ladies (because the guys didn’t wish to participate) came together to do a little thing. We had conversations back and forth about yarn, about patterns, about whatever. And that’s what the point was.
Wednesdays are generally about works in progress, and I finished the cowl. But community is still in progress. Community is ALWAYS in progress. It doesn’t matter if there’s a pandemic, or not. We should always be working on community. It’s important for the world, it’s important for our health, and it’s important for our souls.
Do you have ideas for virtual fiber connectivity? Do you want to be sent some challenge yarn? Let me know.
More importantly, Good Bye to the dumpster fire that was 2020. But, then again, was it really? I mean, yeah, we all had plans. And those plans were incinerated. But, doesn’t that happen every year? No? Just me?
As an example….I had planned to complete Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitters Almanac. By the end of January, I knew that was a terrible plan. In January, before COVID and everything that came with, my plans were already destroyed. So, yeah, I can blame COVID, but really, it’s just life. Or, at least my life. But, see, I’m prepared for that. Since that is what I am used to, and what I prepare for, I’m OK.
I heard an interview with a couples counselor this last summer where she noticed that the person in the relationship who had been agreed to have the “problems” in the before times was now handling things well, but the person in the relationship who was “fine” in the before times is having problems coping. All I could think when listening to this interview was “Who’s coping mechanisms are unhealthy now, hunh?”
If any of you have loved ones in your life who deal with depression and/or anxiety, look back on this last year for yourself. How you have been feeling? Overwhelmed? Exhausted? Sick dread always? That weird feeling in your chest? That’s almost every single day of their lives. We are 9 months into this, and lots of people have gone beyond cracking. Imagine year in and year out. *That’s* a small sample of what they…we…deal with. This year has been what we’ve been constantly preparing for.
So, while all y ‘all were scrambling around trying to find fabric and elastic for masks at the beginning of all this, me and my fabric hoard stash were merrily sewing away. While everyone was panic buying supplies, I went through my house and gathered what I could, and we put the supplies on the shopping list so we could grab some of what was available every time we shopped. We didn’t empty shelves. There wasn’t a reason for that. But, by stocking up a bit, when the wildfires came through town, we were able to share what we had. The only down side to this is that Poopie has seen this as a sign that his choice all those years ago to put tissue packs in the piñata was a good one. He is still wrong about that. But, I will take that, since it means my “crazy” ideas of having buckets of staple supplies in the garage have been proven useful. Don’t get me wrong, I would have preferred not to have all the loss we’ve had this last year, but there is that tiniest (OK, not so tiny) part of me that is saying “See!?! Not crazy, visionary!”
Sorry if some of this is repeat, but it’s been a while since I’ve written, and I assume it’s been a while since you’ve read. I’m going to try to work myself into getting back to blogging. I imagine I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to over this time period while I’ve been away. While not necessarily exciting, you know me, I’m always busy.
Also, please note, they’ve changed the formatting for me. I can go back to the classic, but let’s see what this does for now.
Blerg! The bulk of this was written Monday/Tuesday. I’m still processing Wednesday…so, I won’t be talking about that here/now. I’ll be knitting/weaving/sewing, whatever….
Whatever your feelings on the matter, the economy is trying to reopen, and legal restrictions are loosening. This means my halcyonic quarantine is coming to an end. My volunteer gigs are starting to reopen. Which has meant I’m starting to have to have a schedule outside of work that does not include just going out and digging in my yard.
Wednesday, I had 2 work meetings. I only remembered one, and then I had to take a late lunch because of meeting 1. By some weird quirk of fate, I clocked back in just minutes before my second meeting (which was the one I forgot). Thank goodness for that, since it was a skip level meeting with my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss (yeah, 4 levels up). Thursday’s after work meeting went off without a hitch. Thankfully, no meetings for me to screw up Friday. However, Saturday, as I was going through my emails, I found not one, but two emails from someone trying to interview me about some board work. We’ll see if my response is too late. I haven’t missed feeling like a failure.
And no, putting these things on my phone calendar hasn’t been working, I’ve gotten out of the habit of having my phone with me all the time. Clearly, emails are not currently effective. I’m just going to have to go back to being used to being tethered to my phone and being pulled in a lot of directions. I foresee knitting making a comeback for me. It is a wonderful stress relief.
As I’m personally struggling with this dumbness, the world at large continues to struggle with larger issues, and I find myself expending more mental and emotional resources outside of my home. Gardening, as well as knitting helps with that. While I pull weeds, or move tons (probably not literally) of rock, woodchip, and dirt, I listen to podcasts and alternately learn and think Great Thoughts. As I have to start engaging more outside my home, that time will go away, and I will miss it. But enjoy photos of what I’ve done (mostly) by my lonesome. However, I still have my fiber arts, and they are often portable
One thing I’ve realized during my down time, and solidified in my conversation with Garland, is that knitting gives me the space to respond, rather than react. This was a concept I learned from my first Molly (yoga teacher). Yoga/meditation helps you build your proverbial moat so you have time to respond to stimulus, rather than react. Knitting does that for me. When smoking was a thing, cigarettes did that for the world at large. Think about the old movies/shows. Some groundbreaking thing was said or done, and the person took a drag off the cigarette, buying a few moments, before they responded. We don’t have that anymore. I think a lot of people don’t want that anyway–we are so in need of immediacy. Knitting gives me that, though. I can finish up this row before I respond. Or, I can be so involved I completely missed whatever asinine thing came out of your face.
I haven’t needed that for these last few months.
Please be patient with me as I re-acclimate to “reality”. And thank you, Dear Readers, for your words of encouragement. They really do mean a lot.
Have you ever lost touch with someone and not known how to reconnect? It happens to the best of us. And trust me, I’m not even in the top 50%. Last year sometime, I stopped blogging. I had reasons (excuses). Mostly surrounding time at the beginning. Trying to figure out a time when I could sit down and write. Prior, it had been really easy to just blog while Poopie was at practice, but his practices became more sporadic, and I wasn’t stringent on making sure I took time out myself. Later there was motivation, some stemming from health issues, and serious depression because of those issues, some just lack of practice. While not all resolved satisfactorily, the depression isn’t debilitating anymore since I’ve had time to process and come to terms with things. I have been my usual self of not saying no nearly enough. Plus, there were a whole slew of other aggravating things no one wants to deal with. Frankly, I just didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to try to be upbeat here as well as in real life.
To prove how contrary I am, the pandemic, which is throwing everyone else into a tailspin, has been like a breath of fresh air for me. Many who know me probably assume I’m getting so much knitting done. I am not. Knitting is how I cope with the stresses of everyday life. Without everyday life, I don’t have those stressors, so I don’t need to knit as much. Being pretty portable, I’m able to take knitting with me when I go to functions, board meetings, shows, etc… but now, I don’t need to worry about portability.
In addition, I am finally home to do all those projects which have been percolating in my brain. I got 1/3 of my apple tree chopped up, which is awesome considering how terrified I am of chainsaws. I made poor Poopie help me move 2 yards of wood chips, though I did the 1/2 yard of gravel by myself, since it needed to be done with individual buckets vs. a wheelbarrow. I’ve torn up half my front yard trying to de thatch it, but had to stop that project because the hippy lawn seed (which involves flowers and low water/maintenance plants) isn’t available right now because of said pandemic, and I blew through my stash.
I’ve also made bunches of masks for family who needed them, and then a bunch more to donate. I’ve been working through that stash as well, though I did have to order elastic online. And people thought I wouldn’t use my stash. My sewing has been accompanied by Perry. Poor Poopie has a negative visceral reaction when he hears the theme music now. Back in the day, the seasons were apparently over 30 episodes. I’m honestly not sure how many seasons there are. I think I’m in season 4. So…that math is really sad for Poopie.
I heard a phrase on one of my podcasts that really resonated with me–nostalgia bath. During this weird time, the podcasters were talking about how they are finding themselves steeping in nostalgia–shows, movies, music. Psychologically, this makes sense. For people who are having a rough time with the stay at home orders, this brings them back to a more settled time. For those of us who are having less of a rough time, it’s a familiar stay at home. Perry Mason was always my lunchtime show when I stayed home sick from school. Summers, I would wake up in time to see Perry Mason to start my day. He’s familiar. Also, I’m not weirded out about people touching each other in black and white. Watching the color shows, I find myself wondering why the actors are so close to each other. Once Perry is done, I’ll have to find something else to binge watch. Thankfully, we live in the future, so that isn’t too difficult. Poopie will be happy about that for maybe a week, and then be back to aggravated about my binge watching.
He’s having a rough time of it. He does not like being at home, he needs to be out. Since we are both members of the more vulnerable populations, even after restrictions are lifted, we’ll have to continue to be more vigilant. This just means I can’t fully enjoy my quarantine because it hurts me that he’s so miserable. And there is literally nothing I can do about it.
On to happier subjects. The title of this post refers to an incident that occurred shortly before everything shut down. DeAnna was bugging me about my lack of blogging, and faking that she couldn’t remember it, what was it called again? So I said F*ck you. Someone next to us said “You have a blog called F*ck You? I’d read that!” I clarified that it was F*ck DeAnna. I’m not a monster, I only curse at those who deserve it. So I’m fulfilling my promise to have a blog post named this. You are welcome, Miss D 🙂
I’m going to try to do better blogging. I even have built in conversations. In January, I started trying to follow Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Almanac. In a few years, we’ll talk about how hilarity ensued, but as I’m working through it, I have so many feelings about the grande dame of knitting. I’m planning on sharing!