September 11th, 2014
Wait, that sounds like a bomb. I was going for timer. (But, you know, not the timer on a bomb. The regular kind.)
Last night, Charlene was in the basement weighing wool in front of the TV, which means Fiber School preparations are officially underway! September is when I abandon the grand and never-realized plans of my summer projects and buckle down and TCB. I’m working on menus, supplies, boring boring admin, and also continuing what was supposed to be last month’s wondrous spurt of amazing productivity and clutter clearing, which turned out be more more like: meh.
September is also birthday season for me & Twyla. Mine was last week (So. Old.) and Twyla will be two on Saturday! We had a little family party for her last week because Ron will be away for her actual birthday. She is totally a little person now, talking up a storm in her semi-decipherable way and getting into all kinds of trouble and being alternately charming and dreadful. Mostly charming. Her tantrums are frequent but short, and she reserves most of them for me, which saves me embarrassment, but involves me feeling like a total killjoy asshole a lot of the time. Killjoy Asshole is kinda my specialty, alas.
So part of the reason August wasn’t my SUPERPRODUCTIVE DECLUTTERPALOOZA was because I was busy designing patterns for this year’s Central Kansas Yarn Hop. Yarn Hop participants get a free mini-skein at each shop on the route, and the Hop supplies new patterns to use up all the little bits & bobs. The patterns are free for Hop participants, and will be for sale in my ravelry shop afterwards. They’re designed to use up odds & ends of assorted weight and fiber content, but will also work up nicely with a skein or two of any bulky yarn at gauge, if you’re one of those rare knitters who doesn’t hoard her leftovers.
The knit pattern is a slouchy beret with a big fat pompom, inspired by all the big slouchy berets (and in particular, one with a big fat pompom) I saw all over Santiago on our vacation in July.
And the crochet pattern is Mary Jane slippers with a self-button. They’re fast and easy and fun to adjust for a custom fit.
I intend to finish mine with a leather sole both so I can wear them outside of the building and so they won’t act as a wearable swiffer for cat hair and spinning fiber a problem I have with all socks and slippers all winter. I love the look of hard floors but hate that there is always errant cat hair and spinning fiber whirling about, hoping for a sticky sock or slipper or sweater to cling to. Carpet acts like a massive lint brush, keeping all the furry bits where they land until you vacuum them up.
Having an adorable 2-year-old tugging on your skirt all day also limits your productivity, though I can’t really complain, because she’s mostly a delight, and an excuse to take a breath and pay attention to my surroundings instead of whizzing around like a maniac. Whizzing Maniac is my second-biggest occupation, after Killjoy Asshole. (#3 is Neurotic Freak.)
We’ve been having a lot of Future-related stress lately, and it’s still not resolved. I’m happy that it, for the most part, has helped cement the team (aka, our family, aka The Tigers!) instead of rending it apart. It’s still unresolved, and though we’ve had a few disappointments, I think we may be on the track to some excitement. Or a totally different direction (not for me; for Ron), who knows. Tumult always seems to appear when Ron and I are at our busiest–or maybe it’s that we’re just never not really fucking busy.
A few nights ago at 3am, laying in bed wide awake, my head spinning with second-guessing and fretting, I realized that Disgruntled Housewife used to be my big therapeutic anxiety-relief valve, and that the occasional angsty tweet doesn’t really serve my mental health as well. But when I moved to a tiny town in Kansas, suddenly the intimate exposure of Disgruntled Housewife was just way too intimate. In a city, you can somehow tell everyone who will listen your life story and still have a cozy wall of privacy. There’s sort of a friendly layer of fuck-off that’s understood. Nobody gives a shit, unless they have an actual relationship with you. But in a small town, it’s different. Or maybe it just seems that way if you’re not accustomed to it. You feel like something of a spectacle, under constant scrutiny, like everything you say or do is public property. And in a way, it is. Since there are few people, everyone has a greater stake in what everyone else does. You can’t be invisible like you can in a city. I’m not capturing it exactly. But when I moved here, I quickly found myself self-censoring. You still risk gossip if you shut the fuck up, but there’s comfort in knowing at least you’re not fueling it.
But anyway, with that decision comes the consequence that I keep all my neurosis in my head, maybe discussing it a bit with Ron or the handful of real-life friends I occasionally see, and occasionally whining a bit here, but mostly just keeping it in my poor, over-taxed brain. My brain, of course, revolts by making me a leeeetle bit crazier with every new layer of repressed neurosis, until it starts to crusts over with the delicate, crinkly strata of cuckoo. And the strain of keeping it from crumbling keeps me up sometimes.
This is also probably why my memory is so shitty.
Anyway, I was lamenting losing that steam vent when I realized: oh, right. I can still write. It doesn’t have to be for public consumption to serve its purpose. So I wrote and I edited (editing is for rethinking and refining your own ideas as much as polishing your work, so it’s just as valuable for journaling as publishing).
And then I slept like a baby. Ta da!
Note the ridiculous frilly vintage hostess apron! Part of a cache of fracking adorable vintage baby duds we got a few weeks ago.
Cooler weather. Today we relieved our little tree of its apples. Quite a few, even minus the many we’ve been nibbling the last couple of weeks. I figured I’d better grab them all before the bugs hit them or the sheep or chickens figure out how to get at them. They’re tart and crunchy, yum!
Georgie, too, is enjoying the cool weather.
And the hens are much calmer and laying beautifully since Francis the jerk rooster left for Freezer Camp (though I did feel sad for poor, bewildered Francis for about a day, until I realized how much more pleasant outdoor life is without him).
August 4th, 2014
Well, for me, tomorrow (spiritually tomorrow, as I’ve not yet gone to bed, but technically today). It’s 3am & I’m just getting to this. My productivity actually got the better of me (yay!) and kept me busy for much of today, although Sunday is supposed to be Fun Day, dedicated to goofing off. But when Ron and Twyla both took a much-needed, lengthy nap, I got on a TCB bender which carried on most of the night, interrupted only by a trip to Sonic for a junk food dinner without guilt or dishes (Sunday is Fun Day!).
I plied that TdF single (lovely, but wet; I’ll shoot it tomorrow) and cleaned and organized my room (which is a sort of studio apartment minus the kitchen setup, so I covered my bedroomy space, plus Twyla’s space & the bathroom/changer zone). I didn’t finish every last bitty bitty bit, but it looks pretty spiffy, at least compared to its natural state of chaos.
So, Daisy! Here’s the Daisy Cloche from the book, worked in Quince & Co. Lark in Honey.
When I knit Daisy last month, I stuck with Lark in the only colorway with 2 skeins in my stash: Peapod, a perfectly snappy color, but one that doesn’t suit me well, so I’ll likely dye it. For the knitalong, I’m going to experiment with 220 from stash and see how it goes. If it’s a fail early on, I’ll switch to something else, but that’s my Plan A. 220 isn’t as bouncy as Lark, but I’m hoping it will cooperate.
Daisy Cloche on Ravelry
Literary Knits Errata
Literary Knits Group on Ravelry
Daisy KAL Question Thread (Please post questions here so I can answer for everyone–I’ll be checking and answering at least daily)
Daisy KAL Progress Thread
Heads up, before we get underway… ERRATA!
So, working straight from the book, here’s what I discovered, to my great dismay: there is a short but critical line missing between the “Short-Row Section on Hat Body” and “Concentric Circles.”
Knit back to marker, then work 2″ in St st, k2tog on last 2 sts of final rnd.
I can’t apologize enough to the folks who knit the pattern from the book and produced an abbreviated version of the design. (It’s unconscionable, and never would have gone uncorrected for so long if the publication of the book hadn’t coincided with the birth of my daughter. That’s not me blaming Twyla, but me blaming me for being ill-equipped to deal with anything beyond business-as-usual+baby for a very, very long time. I wasn’t knocked up when I started the book or when the publication date was set, but I couldn’t have anticipated how the shape of my day/year/life would change.)
Okay, so that, which you probably won’t hit today unless you’re out of your mind, because there’s a sea of linen stitch, plus a bunch of short rows, between casting on and the missing lines. But flag it now. And the other errata is that all of the PU numbers on the Concentric circles are off by one:
2nd Circle: …pick up and knit 86 more sts (87 total)….
3rd Circle: …pick up and knit 64 more sts (65 total)…
4th Circle: …pick up and knit 42 more sts (43 total)…
and at the center: …pick up and knit 20 more sts (21 total).
When you k2tog across the rnd after that last section, your final st will be a K st, bringing you back to 11 sts.
Both of these are on the Literary Knits Errata page, and also linked in the ravelry pattern page.
And some general thoughts on the pattern overall…
- Do swatch, and check your gauge again after about an inch of linen stitch. I tend to knit loosely, but linen stitch tenses me up and if I don’t watch it, my gauge gets tighter and tighter. I actually frogged the whole brim this last time because I got so uptight that my gauge seized up.
- For the record, I loathe knitting linen stitch, but I really love the way it looks, so I suffer through it. While it’s one of my favorite stitches to wear–so simple yet decidedly un-knitty, so elegant–actually knitting it could be politely described as double lame-o donkey dick. Sorry.
- Strive to cast on nice, even stitches. The linen stitch that follows them is tighter than they are, so if they’re loosely goosey, the’ll show up more than usual on the edges.
- When you cast off in pattern for the circles, it’s a bit strange because you can really only control every other stitch (the ones you’re knitting, while the ones you slip are already set).
- You definitely want to block this hat. A hot bath and a dry on a form makes the difference between a crisp, tailored product and a stretchy cap with a very different look and fit. (I like those Styrofoam heads–you can get one for around $5 or so on Amazon or eBay. It’s a good investment for hats in general, especially if you knit a lot of cables or lace–a block on a form really helps your stitches pop. In a pinch, you might be able to fashion something suitable from the right pillow, ball, bowl, or even a plastic bag stuffed with socks or packing peanuts).
- If you get lost within the linen stitch on the short rows (or anywhere else), just look to the row below you. If the stitch on the previous row was slipped, it will be worked; if it was worked, it will be slipped. When you’re on the RS, you always slip with yarn in front; if you’re on the WS, slip with yarn in back. If you’re on the RS, working means knitting; on the WS, working is purling.
- Turn off the TV for the linen stitch short rows. The dense stitch makes it hard to find your place if you get distracted.
And some specific advice on what you’ll probably be working on for the next couple of days…
(This is my attempt at clarifying the general construction of the hat and its use of short rows.)
You’ll work the short rows of the brim centered over the back of the hat, so that you’ll flare up the brim in the back. When you get to the main body of the hat, you’ll work short rows centered over the front of the hat instead. The two combine to offset the concentric circles more dramatically.
So, for the brim you’ll be working back and forth past your center marker, turning on either side of it. Starting with the RS, you’ll work X sts, then turn to the WS, work X sts back to the marker, continue past the marker X sts, then turn your work back to the RS and work back to the marker and then another full round. X=44 for the first set, then 49, then 54.
Please do fire away on the Questions thread if you have any questions! I started this KAL because it’s one of the trickier patterns in the books, so I want to help as much as possible!
August 2nd, 2014
While my vacation didn’t seem overly relaxing at the time, I think it did its job, because I’ve recently gotten a nice surge of motivation and thrift. August is going to be about TCB and self-denial, which, I have to admit, are actually two of my favorite things.
I’m starting a new 40 BAGS, and I’m also dedicated crossing off a dozen outstanding projects from my Überlist by the end of the month, so I’ll have a clean slate for September to enjoy Birdy’s birthday (and mine!) and prep for Yarn School. I’m also committed to avoiding any unnecessary spending this month. I’m going to work hard to eat up the freezer, destash, and finally get around to selling the baby gear we’ve outgrown.
Realizing my eyes are always bigger than my productivity, I brainstormed some techniques to subvert procrastination and distraction. The most challenging and probably most effective one will be avoiding internet browsing (even “research”) before 6pm and only checking email, etc. hourly, instead of leaving it open in the background all day. That also pretty much means I have to turn off wireless on my ipad to eliminate the siren song of notices. Judging by that day without electricity last month, the internet is definitely the most powerful vacuum in my procrastination vortex.
I’m also hosting a ravelry knitalong for my Daisy Cloche (more on that tomorrow!)–please join the group if you’re interested.
I finished the single I started on the last day of Tour de Fleece. The bobbin filled up while I still had a little blub of fiber left, so I crammed it on, treadling like mad against the pressure of the flyer rubbing against the bobbin. I actually had to move my yarn guide so it fed the last of the fiber onto the bobbin’s groove. Assuming I bang out my To-do list, I’ll ply it tonight. Hooray!
July 29th, 2014
Before leaving for vacation, I managed to ply the last exhausted singles (2 x 4oz of Laura’s Pygoras Shetland) from my failed 2012 Tour de Fleece. My modest goal this year was simply to finish what I started back in 2012. What will it be? Who knows. The important thing is that it’s out of my spinning basket.
Vacation was fun, but not exactly relaxing. Two full days of international travel (including a grueling 26 hours, 4 flights, and 3 customs on the return leg, plus an extra 2 hours, thanks to a lost bag with our car keys in it) with a 22-month-old was, ahem, perhaps somewhat ill-advised. Twyla picked up a cold on the flight in that got all of us sick and lost us a couple of days of touristy fun. And grandpa’s house–which is undergoing renovations and will be fucking amazing when it’s finished–is currently a bit terrifying for the parents of a very mobile and fearless toddler, what with the plugged-in, ferociously bladed power tools scattered everywhere and the unfenced swimming pool and old skool approach to babyproofing (which is to say, not babyproofing). My dad’s constant indoor smoking was ready fuel for bickering.
(And then there’s the way I always, despite my best intentions, turn into a peevish, bratty 16-year-old asshole in the presence of my parents. I know this behavior is a common affliction, but it doesn’t make me hate myself less for it or prevent me from falling prey. When you’re actually a grownup, you have the self-awareness to be disgusted with yourself, even if you’re powerless to cut it out. When you’re acting like a peevish, bratty 16-year-old asshole, a genuine teenage cluelessness would be far more pleasant than guilty 40-something angst.)
The highlight of the trip for me was a party out in the quincho, the expansive outdoor barbecue that is the gem of the property. Their quincho is vast, more like a hotel patio than a home barbecue, with a long tiled bar, bamboo ceiling, a wood-fired grill, a huge gas grill, a charcoal grill, a smoker, a wood-fired pizza oven, plus an American fridge/freezer and a deep fryer, from which emerged endless baskets of tortilla chips and french fries. We grilled meat in the Chilean fashion, with popping rock salt over a wood fired grill. My dad invited friends, and everyone was warm and welcoming and we all ate and drank and chatted, and Birdy got to play with other kiddies.
The highlight for Twyla was probably playing with my dad’s dog Gringo, he of the handspun dog fur hat, who is just as tolerant as Georgie with Twyla’s pulling and prodding. At one point, I found her astride him like a horse, hugging his neck. She was also fond of the slide.
After badgering my dad into driving us, I discovered that I much prefer the panoramic views of the Andes from a great distance than from close up, with the dozens of steep, tight, harrowing switchbacks that left me green and weeping internally (and later, splashed by a 3-part waterfall of baby vomit–I wasn’t the only one getting green).
Though it was winter there, it was very mild–the coldest days were in the high 40s but felt warmer with the sun, and the warmest days were in the 70s–we probably would have been in the pool on that sunny Saturday if we weren’t all sick.
The citrus trees were laden with oranges and tangerines, and even the pepper plants leftover from summer were still producing, so we got to have my mom’s famous grilled cheese with peppers.
We also got enough cool days that I still got to bundle up Birdy in her current batch of hand knits one more time before she outgrows them. Of course, all the Chileans were bundled up like it was freezing. It was adorable. Next time we visit (I’ll make sure Twyla’s had swimming lessons, so I can breathe), we’ll go in December or January, so we can escape the Kansas winter and enjoy the warm South American summer by the pool, under the palm trees, sipping Piscola. Between the pool, the quincho, the playground, and the orchard, I suspect we’ll never want to leave the property.
After the punishing return trip, we took the day off to catch up on sleep (it turns out that with a lap child, you definitely do not sleep on the plane, even when they do) and to do almost nothing. But on Sunday, the last day of Tour de Fleece, I dutifully pulled out one last batch of fiber, some moody green wool top I died for Woolfest a couple years ago but liked so well I decided to keep it for myself.
I fluffed it up across its width and then just spun it like a batt. I’m about halfway through, and though Tour de Fleece is officially over, I’m actually still working on it a bit each day. After plying all those old, lifeless singles, I’m determined to ply this one while it’s still fresh.
July 11th, 2014
Plied another comatose 2-year-old single from Tour de Fleece 2012. I’ll tell you what. Plying stagnant singles is no fun, but I’m glad to get this out of my spinning basket, and I’m pleased with the end product. From Hello Yarn “Flora,” a Yarn School colorway. About 200 yards. No idea yet what it will be.
Today was equal parts TCB (taxes, mainly–still months before my extension expires!) and enjoying the season.
I really dig our “pool house,” screen tent we set up around the kiddie pool. I don’t know whether I’m happier hiding from the flies during the day or the mosquitoes at night, but already I’m spending hours more outdoors, conveniently shielded from the pitfalls of backyard life.
While Twyla wants to explore the rest of the yard, especially when Georgie’s there, I’d just as soon park my ass in the pool house all afternoon, cooling my feet in her inflatable pool.
Besides keeping the kiddie pool clean so much longer, it’s 100-odd square feet of breezy, shaded, nearly bug- and completely chicken-free bliss.
If you have backyard chickens that free range, you know that backyard chickens mean color and charm, but also lots of poop and even more flies. Throw in a neglected mulberry tree, and I’m making a market in flypaper. In addition to the pesky byproducts, the accidental rooster is increasingly becoming a big pain in my butthole, occasionally charging me and crowing enthusiastically at all hours, like one of those annoying high-strung dogs that barks constantly and for no reason. With the wind the right way, his muffled 3am cries frequently enter or interrupt my dreams as someone screaming bloody murder. (This is undoubtedly enhanced by my bedtime dose of True Blood.)
While I haven’t yet decided whether Francis the rooster gets to stick around, I am enjoying having a little flock again, especially now that one of the girls has started pumping out wee eggs. Once I have a dozen, I’m going to make a tray of miniature deviled eggs.
While the showy but useless rooster was an accident, when I picked out this batch of chickens, I threw my usual pragmatism out the window and deliberately chose one purely for beauty: Pee-wee, a Polish Crested, who was plucked bald in the brooder but now happily holds her own. She’s so fun to watch, the spunky runt of the flock, charging around with her fancy hat flopping about.
My favorite phase, the Mohawk:
Tonight’s spin: plying the final two corpses from TdF 2012, both Laura’s Pygoras Shetland roving:
July 9th, 2014
Day 2 was plying the singles from the first day into a big, bouncy skein. The merino really fluffed up, so it was a little bulkier than I intended, but still worked out for my purposes, a transitional row between 2 commercial yarns in my mitered square baby blanket, which was getting overburdened with solids.
I’ve got an extra 2.5 ounces of yarn left, so maybe a hat or a baby sweater yoke?
Days 3-4 were almost scuttled by a storm that mostly missed us, but still left us without electricity for 24 hours. I managed to get in a bit of spinning before we went black Monday night and after we powered back up Tuesday night. No spinning during the day. We spent the daylight hours outdoors, enjoying the break from technology and television. We put up a screen tent around the kiddie pool, added some chairs for us and a wee picnic table for Twyla, and kicked back with our feet in the pool, enjoying the breeze and conversation in a mostly bug-free paradise. Sadly, by mid-morning, many of our neighbors had already fired up their generators, spoiling the quiet.
Days 3 & 4, I plied a fine single from 2012 Tour de Fleece, an ABC Ranch merino/silk single. I was cursing it when I plied it, and almost considered putting the rest of the fiber in the destash pile. Then I reminded myself that it was my own fault for waiting TWO YEARS to ply it, and that I should give it a chance to rebound in the bath.
I had to run part of the bobbin through twice because the first day’s work did not have half the twist it needed. But after evening it out and giving it a hot bath, it plumped up to a nice bouncy, soft, richy saturated skein. Definitely a keeper in the end, and I’m glad I have more of the fiber.
July 7th, 2014
I’m going to try to make a better go at Tour de Fleece this year. Last year was a bust– I only made it about a week before crapping out. This year, I’m going on vacation in the middle of it, and I definitely won’t bring anything bulkier than a spindle all the way to South America. But while I’m here, I’m going to strive to do something every day.
Yesterday was this:
4 ounces of hand-dyed merino roving from Laura’s Pygoras, which I bought at Yarn School.
I spun up this:
The plan is to ply it and get about a worsted to use as a transitional color in a my mitered square blanket. I’m kind of rusty, so fingers crossed.
July 1st, 2014
Twyla was born a couple months before Literary Knits hit the shelf. Right around publication, Wiley (the publisher) did a bunch of reorganizing, so most of my pre-publication contacts disappeared. Between the kiddo and losing my editorial anchor, my paper baby was kind of left to fend for itself as the struggle to adapt to my human baby occupied most of my mind and time. Months whizzed by, and suddenly my new book is not so new.
This is all to say that with the amazing but confounding time vacuum that is motherhood, along with all the usual demands of running The Harveyville Project, and what felt like a crippling parade of animal crises over the last year, I’ve rather neglected Literary Knits, a book that I relished writing and that I’m terribly proud of.
When I decided to plunge into almost 2 years of untouched ravelry emails, I discovered the lion’s share of pattern questions were about the Daisy Cloche. It’s a fairly advanced pattern to begin: it has an allover pattern stitch worked with short rows, a lot of switching between needle sizes, and repeated binding off and picking up. On top of that, it has errata (the PU numbers of the concentric circles were off a stitch–luckily, brought to my attention early).
Many questions were basic knitting definitions/techniques (e.g., working in pattern or binding off in pattern), but there were a few problems I just couldn’t visualize without reviewing the pattern pretty closely. It’s way too late to help out the few angry knitters who I inadvertently neglected in ’13, but I can help out future knitters who might want to make one of my favorite patterns, and hopefully redeem poor Daisy’s reputation in the process.
Since it’s been almost 3 years since the last time I knit Daisy (it was the first pattern I wrote for the book), I decided to knit it again myself to figure out where the pattern is vexing. And so that I make good use of what I learn while it’s still fresh in my mind, I’m going to host a Daisy Cloche knitalong this August (I’m going on vacation in July, and you know how swamped you always are in the weeks before vacation, especially when you’re self-employed). I just created a ravelry group for Literary Knits. If you’re interested in the Daisy Cloche Knitalong, or if you’ve made any patterns from the book, please join and share your Literary Knits FO with the group!
(BTW, it’s embarrassing how my mind handles criticism. My first impression was of a sea of angry emails about the hat. I even hid from my ravelry mail for a couple more weeks. But when I actually began to review them all to compile a precise list of problems, I discovered it was actually just a handful of criticisms–and just one that was marginally nasty–and another handful of fairly straightforward questions. Funny how your mind will give one snide critical comment so much more weight than a lot of glowing comments and a few friendly questions…. Which is, I suppose, why people always say not to read comments.)
In other news, I have a 7 used spinning wheels & a used carder on etsy right now. I’ve decided I should be a real grownup businessperson and only keep current models I actually sell in my Fiber School lineup, so I’m dispatching everything else. Poof! If you’re local, you can pick it up and save the shipping (email me to make arrangements so I can cancel the listing; I’ll also knock off an extra 5% if you pay cash).
Vintage Werekink w/ skeinwinder frame (needs dowels) & 3 2-speed bobbins, $275.
Red Louet S17 with skeinwinder and 3 bobbins, $325
Unfinished Ashford Kiwi with jumbo flyer and 3 jumbo bobbins and kate (plus original flyer but not bobbins), $275.
Fricke Signature drum carder, $400
Fricke folding double treadle with 4 bobbins and kate, $375.
Fricke e-spinner with foot pedal, 4 bobbins, and kate, $365
Clemes Modern Wheel with 3 bobbins, $335