white recluse

July 25, 2012

if any of you out there are only children,
you may agree with me that we are prone to solitude.
it isn’t that we don’t like people, or being with people.
we aren’t antisocial per se, it’s just. . .

we had a lot of alone time during our formative years
and we need to occasionally revisit that feeling of aloneness.

or maybe i’m just projecting my weirdness onto you people. sorry.

regardless! that’s what my prolonged silence has been about;
a bit of isolation in these last quiet months before ‘year two’ begins.

for a good chunk of the time,
i’ve been here, in the bed of my adolescence,
in the house that’s been my home since i was fresh out the womb.

my grandfather was living with my parents for a brief period,
but he’s happily moved out into the old folks home.
luckily, from what i can tell,
‘happily’ is exactly the right word
his unassuming charm (and lack of dementia)
have made him quite the popular chap, apparently.

and so it’s just the three of us,
mom, dad, and i, just as in old times,
bickering, laughing, observing wildlife,
playing pinochle and canasta like fiends.

i never sleep better than when i’m here.

in this room, i’m surrounded by childhood mementos that recall times i know i lived but can barely imagine. i look at photos and certificates and medals and boxes of comics and books and stuffed animals and it’s like i’ve lived three lives already. no wonder i feel old.

i realize just how lucky i am, at 27, to still have a place to come home to, where i’m fed and loved and can wear yesterdays clothes without judgement. the only thing that’s changed is my mom knocks and then
waits for a response before barging into my room.

mostly.

but you don’t really care about my sappy thoughts.
you want at least some fiber content.
unfortunately, i haven’t been all that fibery.
i did, however, do my own personal tour de fleece.
compared with people like helloyarn, david of southern cross fibres, the harlot or frankly anyone else who participated, i am the rankest of amateurs. the fact of the matter is, i’m a slow spinner with very little instruction. the fact that i can make yarn at all is a victory.

i had one simple goal: finish spinning my rhinebeck fiber.
i started it back in april and made a lovely skein.
during my tdf, i made two more.
(mo is serving you french bulldog realness!)

that’s 8oz of corriedale top from …into the whirled in the ‘rendition’ colorway. the skein in the back is the original. the subsequent two are much more fingering-sport weight whereas the original is a sport-dk.
i’m still happy.

you may have also noticed a little mini skein hanging out there with it’s big brothers. that is my real tdf victory. by some miracle, i spun the exact same length of single on each bobbin for the second skein; no leftovers. (i did plying dance of joy that featured some very inappropriate movements) for the final skein, i split my remaining fiber in half, spun my singles, and had quite a bit left over on one bobbin after plying (wtf?). since i only had 8oz to begin with and i wanted to maximize yardage, i decided to navajo ply the remaining single and i’d use it for the cast on or something. after all, this is tdf! i should end with a challenge. (did i mention i’ve never navajo plied?)

now, in knitting, i can pretty much pull of any technique of which i know the theory. in spinning, this is not the case (see above comment about rank amateurity). i’m telling you, bitches, if you had seen the scene of me navajo plying…..not my most graceful moment.

somehow though, i pulled it off. there’s way too much twist in it and my ‘loop lengths’ are in no way regular, but a good soak and one serious thwacking later and i’ve got some decent yarn.

go me.

but just when i feel pretty darn smug about clearing out 70% of my spinning stash, this arrivesthis box contains one special alpaca fleece (thanks sally!)

i have no idea how i’m going to clean, card, or spin this,
but how hard can it be?

it’s coming up on finals time here.
i am more in danger of losing my mind now
than at any other time in the year.

and it makes me miss my knitting.

mindless knitting has become essential
if i want to get any knitting done at all.
and as of yet,
i haven’t found the right project.
(suggestions for about 500 yards of aran weight yarn?)

however,
i’m not the type of dude to get defeated.
the only child in me requires that i always get my way.
and so while my needles rest,
the wheel turns!

i picked up this fiber at rhinebeck.
it’s been mocking me for far too long.
am i the only who thinks fiber mocks him?
corriedale top by into the whirled in the ‘rendition’ color way

anyway.

as it turns out,
i don’t have to do much thinking to spin.
sure if i planned it out, i could get the colors to blend like i wanted.
i could reduce the handspun trademark barber poll effect some.
but i kinda like that fate decides.
i just try to keep it around sport/dk.
for the most part,i succeed.

i have about five more ounces of this stuff.
if i can get about 500 yards,
that’d make a mighty fine boneyard
wouldn’t you say?

also,
i’ve had this song in my head for days!worry.

my first week as a phd student was rough.
i could tell you all the little whiney stories
that literally drove me to drink.

i could tell you about being behind in my reading,
or how my students were . . . less than talkative in class.
or how i (wrongfully!) received a parking ticket that i have to now appeal.
or how my online rent payment didn’t go through making it 8 days late.
or how mo snuck out of bed in the middle of the night to drop a deuce,
and i stepped in the puddle of pee that accompanied it.

but i won’t.
i’m classier than that,
and no one likes a whiner.

besides, i spent a lovely saturday afternoon with the ladies of the loft
that erased any negative feelings from the previous week.

this future spinner is the newest loft lady,
learning the ways of wool from her mimi, beth smith.
(who is far too young and hip to be a grandma!)

i’m not really a baby person,
but this one seemed pretty cool.
unlike some asshole babies i’ve met,
i could sorta see the appeal of this one.

but since she’s not for sale
i settled for taking my spinning wheel home with me.
this is mo’s little sister; i can somehow tell she’s a girl,
but i haven’t named her yet.
(suggestions?)
like any doting father
i think she’s the best wheel in the world.
the wood is absolutely beautiful.
she even has a knot-wood beauty mark.
she’s currently hanging out in my bedroom
until a proper place of honor can be made in the living room.

what’s that on the bobbin you ask?
why that’s what i’ll be wearing to rhinebeck of course!

as you who read this blog know well,
i am slowly paying for my spinning wheel.
i’m very close to having it paid off,
and in a couple weeks,
it will be mine.

however,
someone has gotten me that much closer;
an unnamed “sugar mama” sent beth some money on my behalf.

beth will not reveal who this is.
i’m supposed to figure it out on my own.
not knowing is kinda killing me a little.
it’s like hearing the best gossip ever,
but not knowing who it’s about.

the irish blood in me makes it difficult to accept such a generous gift, while the poor-ass fiber whore in me says shut up and take it already!

so to whomever it was who paid for a portion of my wheel,
i say thank you. i am truly grateful for your kindness,
and i dedicate this video to you.

(i’m gonna find you!)

with my hospital bills all paid (i hope),
and electronic ink still drying on my lansing lease,
i should be squeezing my pennies like a scotsman.

so the first thing i do,
when assessing my funds?
i decide to make a purchase.

it was eight and four months ago,
when i learned to treadle steady,
and witnessed the power of twist.

i was hooked.
it was magic
worked by my fingers.
there was no going back.

it changed me.

a year is a long time to want something
wanting a thing for that long means
i make it my business to have it.

you can’t always get what you want, they say,
no matter how deep the desire.
true.

but this?
this wheel?
this i can make mine.

and i will have it.

layaway bitches!

**this post is dedicated to the über cool beth smith of the spinning loft. you should give her money for things. i did.

when i decided to give away my handspun,
i never said exactly when i would pick a winner.
somehow, today feels like the right day.

let’s all bow down to the power of the random number generator,
and give our congratulations to lucky number 20 (a.k.a. sarah)
who has won this yarn for her sister amy.
can’t wait to see what she knits with it!
and she better knit something.
or else.

yarny goodness

April 25, 2011

as promised,
i’m gonna get this blog back on track,
and give everyone some yarny goodness to peep.

though i don’t have a wheel of my own,
when i was working at natural stitches,
i could use a shop wheel.

in between helping the fine customers,
i worked on my first ever 3-ply yarn.
once i got all the singles spun,
i plied like the wind!

of course yarn isn’t done once it’s plied.
there’s always something more to do, right?
like the brutal weaving in of the ends after endless knitting.

personally, i follow judith mackenzie’s directions for finishing yarn from her amazing book the intentional spinner: a holistic approach to making yarn (every knitter should own it. even if you don’t spin, it’ll change how you knit. go on. buy it.)

first, you count your strands to calculate yardage.
doesn’t do us much good if we don’t know how much yarn we’ve spun, right?

then we “full” it a little by swishing it in hot soapy water.
(in the book, judith is shown using a small plunger and is really going at it. this scares me. i choose to “sauté” my yarn.

then we rinse/swish it in cold clean water.(remember to scoot your roommate’s papers out of the way, and put down a towel. never incur the roomie wrath during finals)

then i squeeze out the excess water in my own way.
i start at the top, and sort of pinch and roll with my hand.
it’s kinda like milking a cow (look it up).

then the fun part: the thwacking!
i beat the shit out of my yarn against the side of the tub.
(if only you knew how hard it was to get this shot)

after it hangs up for a while to dry,
poof!
yarn is born. (these were the first two skeins)

if i’ve done my math right,
i’ve got roughly 466 yds of a dk/worsted yarn.
not too shabby if i do say so myself.

and just to spice things up,
how about i give the yarn away?
here’s the rules; it’s a little complicated.

if you want the yarn,
you must get one of your knitter friends to leave a comment for you.
then, i’ll pick someone at random (it’s only fair).

are we clear?

you can’t comment for yourself.
your friend must comment for you.

just promise me, please,
if you win, you’ll actually make something with it!

who wants it!?

four more pills

February 28, 2011

that’s how much ibuprofen i just took.

why you ask?

because i’ve strained my right shoulder,
and sprained my left index finger.

how you ask?

let’s see.
what actions in my rather sedentary life
could cause such an injury?

knitting?
cooking?
changing the channels too quickly?
shaking it too hard on the dance floor?

no my bitches,
none of those.

i injured myself,
to the point where my finger was literally purple,
spinning yarn.

who would have thought that the combination of not spinning for months, then spinning for twelve hours in a twenty four hour period,
would give one a repetitive stress injury.

or at least for the next few weeks they are.

in preparation for the knot hysteria silk retreat,
i need to get my spinning skills up to snuff.
spindling has come pretty naturally to me,
and i’m moving past the “park and draft stage.”

however,
i’ll need to be fairly comfortable with a wheel to do all the spinning required for judith macKenzie mccuin’s silk class. (random: any other people with knowledge of irish names find it funny that she has both an “mac” name and “mc” name? just me? ok.)

so today i had my first wheel lesson with carol mcfadden.
before we got down to business,
carol gave me an amazing gifty:

you are reading that label on the ziploc correctly;
a little tuft of pure mongolian cashmere!

she remembered that months ago i said i liked cashmere, (though i ask you, who doesn’t?) and decided to give me some to spin on my spindle.

this is the kind of woman we’re dealing with people;
razor whit and heart of gold.

then we got down to it.

let me just say,
wheel spinning did not come as naturally as the spindle did.
getting my right foot involved seemed to cross some wires in the brain.
but carol assures me that i did very well for my first time,
and i came away with this skein:

as a knitter, i would never purchase this yarn.
i’m not that into thick and thin.
but i have to say
i’m pretty proud of the ugly bastard.
and since i already know i can spin fairly consistent singles on a spindle,

i’m confident that it’s only a matter of time until i can do so on a wheel.

here’s to not looking like a fool in july!

edit: also, i wrote my first article for the shop’s newsletter.
you should check it out!

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