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.

Monday Musings

Spinning Wheels

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?

Since I can’t seem to stop the theme, please enjoy:

Monday Musings

Final Madrona

Another Madrona has been completed.  Sadly, it is the last one.  Happily, a new event will take it’s place.  Same bat time, same bat channel.  Different name, and different people running it.

This year I took a dye class, tablet weaving, spinning, and knitted lace.  All three of my teachers are superstars in their field, so I left Madrona on a high note.  The dye class I ended up in wasn’t a practicum class.  I gave that one up for the greater good.  So, I don’t have any pictures from dyeing.  However, my tablet weaving was a huge success!!! I love my space invaders…and their creepy eyes.  20190216_154338.jpgMy favorite John story from that day was one of the ladies had warped her loom funky.  I didn’t see/hear exactly what she did. But, that meant her piece wasn’t doing what she wanted it to do.  John went over to her, and figured out it was the warp, and not her weaving.  He said something to the effect of he didn’t want her to feel bad about her weaving, she was doing great.  She did need to feel bad about her warping, though.  Keep in mind, she comes to many of his classes, and he develops wonderful rapport with all of his students.  So, in the moment, we all laughed (she included).  The warp was fixed, and she carried on.  Auntie Pam bought me a loom, and John signed it for me.

20190217_113901.jpgSpinning with Judith is  always a joy.  She had me putting random things in with my fiber, which is how I ended up with this lichen yarn.  She’s just so matter of fact about spinning, I love her so much.  There’s never anything that we shouldn’t try.  She tells us what the potential pitfalls may be, but never says “don’t do that”.  Granted, it’s spinning, not anything that’s going to blow up.  The worst thing that will happen is the yarn will fall apart.  Oh well.  I did see these totally awesome spinning wheels that are in little pseudo briefcases…The Device. Seriously, that’s what it’s called.  I really need one.  Poopie’s eyes just got really big when I showed him what they look like.  I’m working on justifying it.  I just can’t quite yet.

And, finally, Franklin’s class.  He had me too busy to take pictures.  Auntie Pam took bunches.  And, honestly, his classes are technique, so we were futzing on swatches.  Not very photogenic.  But the information from Franklin!  The most important take away from his class was after a few inches, put the work down and conduct a “frank assessment” of the work to make sure it is what you want.  If it’s not, take it out, and fix it.  Friend L apparently had the same grandmother give her this advice, based on the number of times she restarts things.  It is often hard for me to just pull out a bunch of work.  I will do a lot of contortions to make something work that really shouldn’t.

The trip home was much less eventful than the trip up was…which was good.  Remember how I said on Thursday that some times, I’m all about the destination? That was yesterday.  Madrona always takes it out of me.  I was tired, and just wanted to be home.  Thankfully, the gods that oversee Madrona allowed for that to happen.  Please enjoy this tablet woven police box.  It is, unfortunately, not how I got home.


While I really enjoy my time at Madrona, and all the stimulation and all the wonderful people, I am always so eager to come home.  Which is awesome–to have a home I’m grateful to come home to.

I’ve missed writing, and I’m working on trying to get scheduling worked out to where I can more consistently write.  For now, though, I’m signing off.

Monday Musings

Showing up

I tell people that Poopie and I are ineptly supportive of each other. This is because we do support each other. We are just terrible at it.

In the early part of our relationship, I had said that I thought I wanted to learn how to spin yarn. I mean, I already knew how to knit and crochet, so the next logical step was to learn to spin, right?  However, in looking for a wheel, I discovered that there is very little depreciation in the cost of a spinning wheel.  This meant spinning wasn’t going to be a low cost experiment.  Knitting and crocheting can be done on the cheap, and someday I’ll tell you about my introduction to weaving, but spinning…  I couldn’t justify that big of a purchase if I didn’t *know* I was going to pursue it.  So, I decided that was that. It would need to wait until I got rich.

Except for Christmas. My Poopie had found a spinning wheel in an antique shop, and purchased it for me!  (no, there are no pictures, Dear Reader…what is your deal with pictures??) I was so excited!  I would learn to spin!  And I diligently tried.  I really, really did.  I even found out about a poly drive band, and made Poopie help me figure that out.  Nothing.

However, I am lucky enough to live close to the Aurora Colony Spinners. And they have classes.  See, I had been trying on my own, and failing.  I don’t know if YouTube existed, if it was in it’s infancy, or if I just never thought of it, but regardless, I didn’t play on the YouTubes.  I decided, instead, to take a class on spinning.  The Aurora Colony even let me rent a spinning wheel.  With the patient help of Barbara Quinn, I was able to learn to spin (and ply) in just one day.  Seriously.  Just one day. All that time on my own, and one little class fixed it.  Le Sigh.

So, I called Poopie and ask him to please bring my wheel. He did.  I am informed this is called a chair wheel.  It’s a re-creation of a wheel that was made using the bottom of a chair as the frame.  I told everyone the story of Poopie buying me the wheel, and how supportive he is.  Appropriate oohs and aaahs.  I sat down to try out my new-found prowess…and nothing. One by one, several ladies tried.  No one could get the blasted thing to work.

So, I found out that it wasn’t me!!! It was my equipment. 20180226_213919.jpg Armed with this new knowledge, I went out (eventually) and bought myself a wheel.  Or 2. Or 3. Then I sold #2. Then bought #4. And later, #5.  Trust me, Poopie tells me about my wheel collection (which is only 4).  I ask about his guitars, and he finds somewhere else to be, and his hearing has suddenly deteriorated. I would also like to point out his wall of lp’s behind spinning wheel #1.

I, too, am inept at being supportive.  A couple of years later, I found a reel to reel for Poopie.  He had been wanting to start recording his music.  Being a Luddite, he was wanting analog.  So, I was in our local record store and noticed a reel to reel for sale.  Huzzah!  I bought it for him.  If you are a crafter, Dear Reader, you know that equipment has lots of variables that mean nothing to the lay person, but can make or break your project.  20180226_213943.jpgApparently, the same is true with music.  It would be very helpful, however, if Poopie didn’t sound like a trombone when he talks about his music equipment.  I’m not one of the Peanuts kids, I don’t understand “Wa waa wa waa wawa waa”.  So, even had the reel to reel I bought him actually worked, it was a 2 track instead of a 4 track.  Our local record store took back the defunct reel to reel.  Two machines later, he now has the one he wanted. Also, please note the 2 guitars and mandolin, in addition to the guitars and basses in the music room.

This post started out to be a post about equipment.  I was going to end that the lesson I learned from this is that if something doesn’t work, don’t necessarily assume it’s you.  MjAxMy1iMGFkZjZkM2M4OTI0MWNj

But then, yesterday, Poopie sent me a picture of this real, true to life CD (featured image).  That’s me being thanked on a CD.  Do you know what I did to deserve that? Me neither.  Except…I showed up.  I sat in the audience at most of their shows, and crafted.  When there were side projects, they knew they’d have at least one friendly face in the audience. Even my party foul story is about us showing up.  While Poopie and I were bumbling around like idiots, our friend was texting to make sure we were going to be there.  He was going to go up in front of a room full of strangers, and wanted just a couple familiar faces.  Never underestimate the value of showing up.

Poopie and I gave each other objectively terrible gifts that we had to return.  But, the true gift is that we showed up for each other.  So, take your crafting and show up somewhere and support someone or something you love.

This Must Be Thursday

Madrona Day 1

Greetings from Madrona!

Often, when going on a trip, I prefer to take an ease in day and an ease out day from work. These days are my transition days, which are necessary for my health, which means it’s necessary for others around me.

Yesterday was my transition day…ish. It was also my travel day. Poopie didn’t bring me coffee yesterday like he usually does. He was letting me sleep in. This meant I didn’t make an appointment he was unaware of. The next opportunity was going to be mid-day, which meant that I would be cutting my pick up time kind of close. Not close enough to be terribly concerning, so I rolled with it. I packed up before the appointment rather than after.

Since I’m taking five classes, I had a few items I needed to bring for supplies and homework. While all that fit in my carry on size suitcase, I wouldn’t be able to bring clothing. I have no idea what the nudity laws are like in Washington, but regardless, I chose to be clothed for this event. Which meant I had to take the giant suitcase. I told Poopie that I would be made fun of, and that I was sure that L would have all her stuff in a backpack. I was right on both counts (though it was a small duffle rather than a backpack). While Barb made fun of me, she had NO room to talk.

Thankfully, for my schedule, our train was late, and Amtrak was kind enough to let us know before hand. Or, past me was smart enough to sign up for text alerts…Tomayto, Tomahto. We bundled ourselves onto the train and had an enjoyable trip up.20180214_174118.jpg I’m not sure our compartment-mates found us as entertaining as we found ourselves and each other, but no one shushed us, so I consider that a win. L is knitting the green, while I’m knitting the stuff that’s reading as pink.20180214_174126.jpg

Pam was to pick us up, and then we had the typical comedy of errors of there apparently being two train stations within blocks of each other. Of course, we couldn’t both end up at the same train station. I have no idea how we did these things before cell phones, because it took us a while to figure things out, and we were texting and calling like the crazy ladies we are. 20180215_200950.jpgEventually, we found each other, and our respective Airbnbs (we’ll assume that’s the proper plural). Penny Lane was as charming as I remembered. I got a new welcome sign on the door.  Pam is my “& guest”.

We bundled back into the car to go to the hotel to check in to the festival. This is a wonderfully well run event, so that took no time at all. That is, once Pam was able to find the Giant Blue Light on top of the hotel. Have you heard of too many cooks in the kitchen? There may have been too many navigators in that car. How Pam managed not to smack us, I don’t know.

Then off to find food. YAY! Except the place we went to closed just before we got there. So we decided to pack our toys and go home…to the Airbnb. See, mine and Pam’s is above a bar. Barb and L’s is literally around the corner above a Pho place. We went to the bar, since the Pho place closed as well. I knew from last year that I liked the bar. The kicker for me last year was when I ordered an amaretto sour. They asked me if I wanted a small, or large glass. I’ve never been asked that before. I know this will shock you, Dear Reader, but I chose a large glass. Out came a pint glass. I knew then I had found my people. This year, however, there was no amaretto. Sad face.

After a yummy dinner, we went back to our rooms. Pam and I stayed up way too late talking. This morning, while drinking coffee she so generously made for me, Pam told me of her battle with a spider in the middle of the night that I slept through. She had also managed to get at least half a day’s work done before I even thought of waking up.

Unfortunately, Barb woke up ill. We are hoping it’s a 24 hour thing, but even if it goes 48 hours, I don’t believe she had any classes set for tomorrow. The remaining three of us headed off to learn at the feet of the great Franklin Habit. But before we get to that, we see that I broke my bag.  More on that later. 20180215_155327.jpg

Regular classes with Franklin are always full of history. Imagine how a class called Antique Vintage Knitting Patterns went? It was fascinating, as expected. The handout was very useful, and will be useful back at home. Not only did we learn how to read vintage patterns, he gave us some basic skills and practicum at reverse engineering extant items. Then he had us work from a vintage pattern, in a mini mystery KAL.  L and I have dared each other to make his Lady’s Traveling Cap.  Look forward to duelling blogs!

This is L’s first festival, and this was her first class. When I first saw this class description, I immediately thought of her. She has assured me that Franklin, the class, and the event has lived up to my hype so far. Thank goodness! I fear over-hyping things.

While I am writing this, Pam is in her afternoon class. Neither L, nor I have a class this afternoon, so L got to experience her first marketplace. I just *had* to replace my dollar store bag.  The featured image was the replacement.  Always trade up, Dear Reader.

Confession time, I may be an enabler. L is still holding firm right now. But I’ve already moved her from “no way will I learn to spin” to “well, how do you…?” All it took was showing her The Homestead Hobbyist’s booth. With colorways such as “Toxic Waste” and “Crime Scene”, how can she continue to resist?

I love this stage of a crafter. This is the stage of possibility. The stage of transition. Where a person goes from “not” to “beginning”. It’s exciting! Making room for the new, seeing how the new can mesh with the existing. She’s waffling right now. And who knows which way she’ll go? Even if she chooses not to take up spinning, seeing just for a moment how spinners look at fiber I think will benefit her in how she approaches fiber projects in the future.

Well, this is all for now. I don’t have classes tomorrow, but there’s still tons to do. Even if it’s just sitting in the corner listening to the chatter of fellow crafters while I while away the day with whatever project I bring, it’s great being here.