Due to concerns about ice this weekend. Winter Woolfest has been moved to Saturday, January 28.

I’m a bit excited to get a couple extra weeks to dye, card, and obsess over my new booth (the Columbian nixed tents this year, so I finally invested in some fancy panels).

Please join us in Wamego at the end of the month for fibery fun!

Tour de fleece 2016, so far

My Tour de Fleece goals this year were modest: 1) a fractal spinning project; 2) complete an unfinished spinning project. Given the volume I still have left of my chosen  YIP, I’m not overly optimistic about my chances, but I’m still going to give it a shot. I’m visiting my folks, so without any competing projects from home, I have more spinning time than usual.

I’ve culled so much of my fiber stash that I had a rough time selecting a good candidate for a fractal spin, since most of my remaining fiber is either natural colored fiber, farm roving, or Hello Yarn dyed in random rather than repeating progressions. Since I didn’t have an ideal candidate, I picked something I though would make a good shawl  (my planned project), a BFL/silk blend.

Hello Yarn for Yarn School, “Kindled” colorway. Halved lengthwise, one half spun continuously, then continue to halve each remaining strip lengthwise and repeat. I think I got a total of 4 splits. You can see how the progressions get shorter across the bobbin with each split. Spun on a Scacht Matchless to Jessica Jones and Sarah & Duck.

Finally, chain-plied to preserve the scale/repeats–except I don’t think the colorway was inheriently suited to this projects, too many colors spaced too closely to really spell out the intention really clearly. I won’t know for sure till I knit it. Either way, it’s soft and beautiful, and a pleasant, gentle colorway.



Next project, still underway, is to add to the half bobbin spun at the last Spinsters meeting I attended last winter. Started as Littlefarm bicolor roving purchased at Missouri Fiber Retreat in 2011. I think it was BFL, or maybe Finn? It’s always harder to guess roving that top if you can’t remember, since there’s so much variation within a breed & small farm runs can be more indicative of individual animals than the breed standard.

Lazy, sloppy spin in a 2-ply. It’s been all over the place depending on my mood, sometimes careful shortdraw, sometimes fuzzy long draw. I figure it’s going to be a rough, fuzzy, irregular sweater. Spun to lots of Last Week Tonight, a bit of Stranger Things, and Cosmos.


I brought my Electric Eel with me  to MD Anderson this time for my dad’s chemo & realized if I’d been doing that all of the last year instead of joylessly dicking around on my ipad, I’d have a lot more yarn & sweaters right now. I’m going to leave the Eel in Houston so I can spin whenever the relentless Fox News barrage makes me want to self-deport. (Though today, Dad’s letting T binge on cartoons, so I’ve gotten a refreshing break from the “fair” and “balanced” news (that’s where they put the quotes, right?).

In bright news, dad’s current chemo is making good progress against his cancer, after many months of mixed results, progression, and autoimmune & diabetic complications. It was great getting good news that wasn’t immediately tempered with bad news! If only he would quit smoking, I could start to relax again. Anyhoo, back to spinning!

Knitting again!

I’m knitting again! Huzzah!

Hats are what I should probably be knitting, but since it’s been such a crazy mild winter (with the exception of a smallish ice storm after Thanksgiving that kept knocking out the power for a couple days)–I’m talking December days in the 60s!–it’s been hard to get to excited about hats. And I love sweaters, so that’s where I started.

First up, garter toddler cardigan in 4 balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite (hope to publish the pattern this winter). It’s so cushy and cute, I kinda wanna make my own, but I’m not sure how the shape will suit a woman’s body. But since my own Silk Garden Lite sweater is possibly my favorite handknit pullover (the Silk Garden just wears and resists pilling surprisingly well, especially for a single–though I guess it’s technically kind of a phony single…), it’s very tempting.

As usual, I had to break up the color progressions because the orange was too long and too aggressive to use full strength as it appeared, so I just busted it near both ends and rejoined it to omit the retina-blasting section of all but little bit on the yoke. The buttons are natural antler from Melissa’s Mohair.

And now! I’m making myself a funnel neck sweater from some long-abandoned Schulana Morbido, which apparently only 6 users on all of Ravelry have actually made into anything (and two of them were me, and both of those were frogged or chucked out). It looks like of like a horrid blob of crusty lava on the needles and I was getting nervous about my improvised pattern, so I put it on some scrap yarn at the last Spinsters Club last Sunday (Christmas swap! I got mine stolen three times, but still ended up with something that suits me) and tried it on and huzzah! Down to the shoulders, anyway, it looked pretty much just as I had hoped. Stable, tallish funnel neck and nicely fitted raglan shoulders.

Photo on 12-12-15 at 12.21 PM #5

But since my neck and shoulders are pretty much the only parts of my body I don’t kind of hate right now, we’ll see if I’m as well pleased when I’ve knit my way down to the trouble zones (so, pretty much everything including and below my armpits). I’m about to divide for sleeves, which should spread the funnel out to my shoulders a bit.

The trick will be to find a compromise between the bulk of the yarn and the camouflaging requirements of my lumpy torso and thick arms. I need it to stretched down my shoulders with some negative ease for the funnel to have the look I want, but I don’t want a bunch of lumpy bumpy yarn clingy to my own lumps and bumps, so I need a bit more ease below the pits. Maybe a quick tuck under the bust and then an A-line? But I don’t know how that will shake out.

Besides knitting, I’m busy as usual with my little datebook factory. This year is The Year of the Rascal! I love love love making these, mostly because they involve HOURS of poring over magazines from well before I was born. So many candy-colored appliances, so much bacon & cake, such shiny cars and adorable children and crazy rocket ships, and so, so many bras!

Calendar time, of course, means Überlist time. I haven’t started making my 2016 list, but early December is when I start sifting the current list, writing off anything failed or unrealistic, sorting out and color coding the slim-chance possibilities (instead of actually doing shit), patting myself on the back for the successes, and scrambling to squeeze in a few last-minute accomplishments in a vain attempt to finally, once, ever reach Brenda status (there’s a 90210-based ranking system, and I’m forever stuck in stupid Kelly territory). I’ve got about 3 more days of self-delusion before I scrap 2015 and start dreaming about all the amazing stuff I’ll never get around to next year.

5-minute baby overalls clothespin bag

Ahhh! Fiber School is over, everything’s back in order, and the buildout of Ron’s new tattoo shop is wrapping up. Now if the rain would just lay off for more than a day at a time and let my basement dry out, I could relax.

I haven’t knit in forever and despite my rigorous culling, I was kinda languishing under the weight of a stale stash. But my new rigid heddle loom inventory (a pleasant side effect of Rigid Heddle School) has gotten me energized about weaving, I’m looking at my old stash with new eyes.  I just made a yummy new rug, I’ve already got the loom warped again for another variation & I’m going to build up a nice inventory of them and start selling them this summer. It’s always a struggle to fine a lovely handmade thing that a million other people aren’t making.

Aside from rugs, I’m warping my little SampleIt so I can make one of these amazing bags. Shit like this is why I love Pinerest (everything else is why I hate Pinterest).

On my back-burner to-do list forever has been craft projects from all the baby duds that aren’t special enough to keep or fancy enough to sell. For the most part, that means I have bags of unsorted baby crap, but one of the few things I devised that I think is worth sharing is this baby overalls clothespin bag. Baby overalls are super cute and outgrown immediately. They’re also sturdier than your average baby duds, which make them ideal for something useful you can have in service for many years. Twyla’s still pretty small (though years too big for these), but I’m sure when she’s big, I’ll get a tickle out of thinking of her in these.

Here’s how you make them. Step one, cut off the legs and sew up the bottom.

The other steps (box the corners and screw to a wooden hanger if you don’t want to fuss with latching it over the clothesline) are optional. Shown here, it’s only a quarter full. Filled, it can hold all of my clothespins, which equals more than I need to completely fill my 70′ of clothesline, even with baby clothes.


(By the way, if you’re fed up with shitty clothespins, invest in some vintage ones from ebay. New ones, even the big ones from Lehman’s, are crap. Maybe they’re fine for gentle climates, but they’re a joke in Kansas wind. Vintage ones are worlds better. Look for the 3 3/4″ size and thick wire in the picture, as  there are a lot of people selling ratty weathered new clothespins as “vintage.” The non-springy type work pretty well on lightweight items, too.)

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick….

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).

Daisy Cloche KAL starts today!

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.

Helpful links:

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!

Here I go!

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!

Tour de Fleece, Days 7 – 9; and vacation!

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.