Friday Fails and Fixes · Uncategorized

Failure is always an option!

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!

This Must Be Thursday · Uncategorized

Why Elizabeth Zimmerman should not be believed

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.

Uncategorized · Wednesday In Progress

Yarn Potluck

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: 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.

Good night Dear Reader!


Lost in Translation

Last time, we talked about reading through your pattern, and I totally glossed over the fact that your pattern may still make no sense.  You shouldn’t feel bad about that.  There is definitely a different language in any craft.  Starting off with the equipment, and moving to what it is you are doing.  It can be daunting.

I don’t often think about it with knitting and crochet anymore. 20190322_174912.jpgThat has it’s own dangers, though.  These coasters I made for my grandma took me a couple of tries to get them right because I thought I understood the instructions.  I was wrong-ish.  They would have worked, however, they wouldn’t lay as flat as I wanted.  I read and read, I looked at the written direction as well as the chart.  Turns out 11 and 10 are not the same.  The first cluster was the beginning chains and 10 stitches, so the next clusters were all 11 stitches.  I read it and read it and still processed the instructions to read 10 stitches in each cluster.

Any language is an abstract representation of something real.  Conventionally, languages are taught by giving you a new abstract to represent an old abstract (i.e. manzana = apple).  So, your brain has to translate manzana to apple to the actual apple.  Or worse, the written manzana to the spoken manzana to apple to the actual apple.  Well, that’s me because I learned most of my Spanish orally.  My brother, on the other hand, learned his from reading/writing.  So, my comprehension for speaking/hearing is better than his.  However, his comprehension of written Spanish is way better than mine.  That’s because for each of us, our “preferred” method requires one less step in translation.

Funnily enough, I learned how to knit it Spanish.  For a long time, patterns for me were *very* difficult.  I didn’t learn by reading a pattern.  My friend, Maria, taught me how to cast on, cast off, knit, purl, do ribbing (vertically and horizontally),  and do eyelets.  All in Spanish, all orally.  She even had me doing basic design before I ever saw a pattern.  My first pattern was in English, and made no sense to me.  So I had to translate the knit terms through several layers before getting to actually knitting.  It was a tough time for a while.  But now (usually), I don’t have to think about it.

Unless, of course, Thing 2 has brought me a kit with the pattern in French, Italian, and German.  While she spoke high school German, those classes did not include any knitting terms.  Google translating the knitting terms came up with garbled mush.  I read and read those patterns, upside down, inside out, on a plane, on a train.  Nothing.  Until I happened to notice the French translation had Brioche.  Hey! I know that’s a technique I can YouTube!

Living in the future is awesome, Dear Reader, we now have a benefit I did not have all those years ago when I was first learning.  When in doubt, wecan YouTube a technique to see/translate our pattern to something we can understand.  Back in the day, it was tons of trial and error if you didn’t have someone nearby to help you.  Maria couldn’t help me with English patterns, as she didn’t “speak” English knitting.

I’m currently in Mexico visiting family.  20190321_174303.jpgPlease enjoy the pictures of the Baby Parade the town puts on for the first day of spring.  Each time I visit, I have to spend the first bit translating Spanish to English to the actual meaning of what’s being said.  Then, I go through a time where I can understand what’s being said, but I can’t translate it to English for poor Poopie.  Usually about the time I regain some fluency, it’s time to go.

Hopefully, when we retire, and Poopie lets me snowbird, I’ll have a chance to get my Spanish where it should be.  Luckily for you, you don’t have to travel to far off lands to get some fluency in reading patterns.  You can do that wherever and whenever.  Far be it from me to discourage you from travel, though.  There are very few things in life more valuable than travel.  I encourage you to travel as often as you can.


Bring it!

Friend L, who first inspired my blog writing, has re-vamped herself and her blogging.  She can now be found at On Pens & Needles.  I have updated my sidebar to reflect this.  You may wonder at my posting on a Tuesday.  I do not normally do so, as this is the day Poopie and I set aside as date night.  However… I’m making an exception tonight. And let me tell you why…

Last week, L asked if I would like to start walking with her in the mornings.  I agreed (I must hate myself).  She makes me get up at the butt crack of dawn…5:30, and I proceed to hike over hill and dale to the tune of almost 3 miles.  This is after spending all weekend working in the yard.  And…to be honest, I’ve done very little excercise-wise in several months.  I only bring this up to point out that L has kicked my ass.

Does she feel bad about this? Who knows.  What I do know, though, is that I found out last night…along with the rest of the world…that my DEAR FRIEND has thrown down a gauntlet.  I have to wonder about the timing.  I am weak from lack of sleep.  All my muscles are screaming at me.  And this is when my supposed friend decides to throw a mental challenge my way?

I tell you, with friends like these…

So, in future walks, L and I will be hashing out the details.  In the meantime, please enjoy the pattern, and Franklin Habit’s words: Lady’s Travelling Cap.  The featured image was stolen from



The lovely (as well as irritating) thing about the written word is that you don’t get tone of voice.  So…is that “ah” a scream of frustration? rage? or a sigh of contentment? Yes–all of the above. Vacations are wonderful things–once I get there.  However, the getting there can be a bit…much.  I committed to writing once a week, but I didn’t commit to which day.  I’ve been super good about getting something out on Mondays, but as you can tell, I missed this Monday.  Because I was getting ready for our annual jaunt to Mexico.  Which leads me to today’s post.

The topic will likely elicit a similar scream from you, Dear Reader.  We are going to be talking about (dun dun duuuun) blocking.  Blocking is the act of wetting a piece of fabric (knit, crocheted, woven, etc…), pinning it into shape and letting it dry.  There are many different schools of thought on blocking.  My position on blocking is an ever evolving one.

Monday night, instead of writing to you, I was blocking a present for one of my many (many) aunts.  I love that my shawls look like birds.  You may or may not be able to tell that I just do this on my living room carpet.  I use thin rods and a whole bunch of T-pins.  A. Whole. Bunch.  Seriously, there is no such thing as too many T-pins.  If you ask yourself “should I put a pin here?” the answer is yes.  20180315_190916-e1521830751162.jpg

The left side of the shawl is showing the beginnings of blocking.  See how far I stretched out the top? You can also see the lack of definition on the scallops of the lace.  20180315_191659.jpgThen, I pull the lace out.  I make sure to pull the yarn as far as it will go.  I catch each of the points in the rod to make strong, consistent points for the finish.

Some people block pieces of projects to help make them consistent in size.  A myriad of flaws can be hidden in the blocking.  The problem with this, though, is that if there is a lot of difference to make up, it will come out in the wash.  After washing, they’ll return to their original sizes.  And then, you will have a mess.  So, blocking only goes so far in this manner.

Shawls are, so far, my only approved use of blocking.  As you can see, the side that isn’t blocked is kind of a mess. 20180315_191650.jpgYou can’t see any of the definition that makes the piece beautiful.  You may not even be able to see the full potential.  It takes stretching the piece beyond what you think is possible to bring out its full glory, like the featured image.  20171015_092732.jpgThere is, however, always the possibility of going too far.  But, I maintain it was going to break anyway, and it’s best to know now than when I’ve come to depend on it.  Besides, if it’s never blocked, it never has a chance of being what it’s supposed to be.

Many things have to go through a similar process. We temper steel to make it stronger.  Similarly, the delicate lace is only truly able to shine once it has shown how very, very strong it had to be.  Even the “failed” shawl will shine.  Maybe in a different form (definitely in a different form–I REALLY hated that pattern), but it WILL shine.

Blocking can teach us so many things:  True beauty often comes after testing.  We can often handle more than we think.  We need to be aware that while we can try to fit with something not meant for us, eventually, we will come back to ourselves.  Finally, we have to remember just because we weren’t meant for something doesn’t mean we aren’t meant for something else.  So, don’t be afraid to stretch!