The hated Gringo yarn: Done! + New TV Project

Thanks to Spinsters Club last Sunday, I’m finally rid of the burden of spinning the world’s most unfun fiber: the dread Gringo fur. Gringo is a lovely beast, but his fur was soul-crushing to spin. Short, matted, clumpy, jumpy, and a warm charcoal color that, while actually quite a nice color as yarn, was fucking BOR-RING to spin. I still have to knit a hat out of the stuff, which I predict will  be numbing as well, but a Gatsby garden party compared to spinning the shit. So: huzzah!

And apologies to my fellow spinsters who had to suffer through two meetings of grumbling and scowling and cursing.

I still haven’t gotten around to writing up my elf bonnet pattern, and any minute now, it will be spring. Well, I keep thinking that, then the temperature crashes and we get more snow, so…. I thought I was in the final phases, until I realized too late that the gauge on my last sample was all goofy and I’d need to reknit it. I’m not in love with the color and it’s almost-but-not-quite TV knitting, so I just put it aside for something more mindless, now that Ron’s home from tour and we’re having marathon TV catchup. We do love our television.

This, on the other hand, is perfect television knitting.

I realized I never made Twyla a baby blanket! And I needed a TV project, so this is perfect. It’s a mitered square blanket. The only thing special (special to me; I doubt it’s a unique idea, but I thought it up myself after finding lots of single-square tutorials, which to me meant too many ends) about it is that all the squares are worked in a row, so there aren’t a million individual ends to weave in.

For each square, I CO 21 st and worked a central double decrease (skp) every RS/even row & knit all the WS/odd rows. You just work a square, then either PU/BO or slip stitch crochet (same results, but for most, crochet is faster) down one side to the corner, then CO again, work another square, repeat until there’s a little row like paper dolls. Just keep going until the string of squares is the width you’d like your blanket.


For the second row, you just start at the right again (the first square is going the wrong way because I didn’t do the slip stitch cheat, just started in on the second square), PU 21 sts across the tops of the first two adjoining squares.


After working the square…


…work down to to the top of the next square below by traveling down the side with a slip stitch again.


The PU another 21 sts over the next two adjoining sides, working exactly the same way as the first row, except that you PU sts instead of CO.


The second row looks like this.  Note that it will have one less square than the first row. As you work across, pay attention to the top of the first squares so they’re all facing the same way, if that matters to you. They tend to spin around as they’re dangling there.


For the 3rd row (and all future odd rows), you’ll need to CO 10 or 11 (you decide what feels like the best place to place that center st), then work up the outermost edge of the first row of the second square. Otherwise, you’d make a pyramid instead of a serrated rectangle. Those floppy sts are CO, not picked up along the edge of the first row. The picture’s a little unclear.


At the end of the row, for the last square, you’ll PU 10 or 11 sts along the side of the list second row square, then CO your last 10-10 sts, so ultimately your third row will have the same number of squares as your first row.

Then just alternate between the rows until your blanket is the desired length.


Spinsters Club!

Drove out to Wamego yesterday for my first Spinsters Club–and my first spinning–in forever. I’m pretty sure my last spinning was when I started spinning Gringo’s fur, over a year ago. It was such a drag that it turned me off spinning completely. It’s still a huge drag–I truly can not think of anything I’d like to spin less. Cotton, maybe? We’ll say cotton.  Maybe. But, tedious as it was, the company was wonderful and it was satisfying to get some more of that shitty work out of the way.

26/365: Gringo yarn. Bleh.

The fiber is from my dad’s favorite child, Gringo, a Portugese water dog. Gringo goes everywhere with my father, even in the plane back and forth to Chile, where my dad spends about half his time. He’s a service dog. My dad’s diabetic, but he had the dog trained and certified more so that he could spend every waking minute with the creature than because he actually depends on the dog. But with my dad’s near-complete inattention to his health, a backup plan can’t hurt. Anyway, my dad collected the beast’s fur and sent it to me for months until I finally said: enough with the fucking dog hair, already.

My current spinning project: Gringo

I agreed to card, spin, and knit my dad something from Gringo’s fur. My dad can’t fathom why anyone would want to spin anything but Gringo fur, ever, for the rest of their lives, but after spinning half a batt, and loathing every second, I was very firm that he was absolutely not getting anything beyond a hat. Maybe a Gringo hat will help him mind meld with the dog, and he’ll be content with that instead of badgering me to make him a full suit of dog hair clothes. That’s about the next logical step in their relationship.

Aside from having nice company to sweeten the odious dog yarn, I also came home with a lovely fiber swap present! Normally we do a swap at the December meeting, but shitty weather postponed our holiday swap a month. I got a crazy wool batt, a dyed mohair batt, some dyed mohair roving, all in a cute ravelry sack! I’m psyched it didn’t get swiped!


Tap, tap, tap

What’s that sound? That’s me, nailing down my Überlist for 2014!

2013 was pretty meh, list-wise. I banged out 38, solid Kelly territory (to my great shame). I think the first 3 months of the baby gave me a misleading idea of the kind of time I’d be working with. I did almost no knitting between when Birdy started crawling and November. But in November, I did bang out matching handspun cardigans for NaKniSweMO:

NaKniSweMo matchies

NaKniSweMo Matchies

Then I got on a roll and finished a couple other baby sweaters:

Silky merino 1-skeiner

Handspun ss pullover

And a couple bonnets…

Rumpled Elf

Vintage button

Santa 2014

Handspun Rumpled Elf

Handspun Rumpled Elf

I’m glad to be knitting again.

Rigid Heddle Love

Well, I’m getting a late start on NaKniSweMo, but I’m bound and determined to get at least one sweater done, and maybe 2. My plan is to make matching-ish cardigans for me and Pearly. I’m using this, a Tour de Fleece handspun from a couple years back.

It’s actually not my favorite yarn ever, a disappointing final combination of some really gorgeous fiber that promised to be marvelous right up until I plied it. I’m hoping I like it better in a sweater than in the skein–and from winding it into balls, I think I just might.

I thought I’d be doing shitloads of baby knitting, but once Birdy started crawling, I kinda put up my knitting and am only just now getting it back out. I’m hoping to be able to just wing it, using the cast-on numbers from this sweater, which has had a very long life, thanks to the all-over ribbing, but which she won’t be able to wear that much longer:

I think that was the last think I knit. OH! No, there’s something else on the needles, something that I need to hurry up and finish now that it’s cold. I think it’s going to be awesome. I hope.

Next weekend, I’m taking a weaving class from Linda Stanfill, who taught me how to warp my Knitter’s Loom during October’s Fiber School. I started what I thought would be a big throw rug from my amassed stash from fiber workshop handspun (my own, demo samples, and orphans from Yarn School, Camp Pluckyfluff, classes I taught at The Wicked Stitch, etc.). But 1) it was way too long to wind on and I had to keep unrolling and rigging it back up by tying it on and 2) I chose a weakish yarn for the warp and it just couldn’t hold up for the yards and yards required of it, and I got sick of knotting in more.

But in the end, I ended up with yards of great handwoven fabric that I’m probably making into sari silk-lined project bags for Woolfest.

Then I got the wee Ashford SampleIt! (yes, allonewordhalfitalicized with an exclamation point!) mini rigid heddle and started making scarves from handspun and commercial stash. It’s so gratifying to weave up handspun you’ve been puzzling over how to use for years. I’m hoping to weave a lot of Christmas presents, plus a nice batch for Woolfest. (Look at me thinking of Woolfest sooner than the week before! I’m a planning mastermind!)

Both of these use Laura’s Pygoras handspun for warp and commercial yarn for weft. The first one, I didn’t have enough handspun for all the slots, so I alternated between handspun and commercial. I really like the results.



[This is a post from last summer that I just realized I didn’t publish….]

I’ve been sort of turning the big blob of my life over and over again  in my mind, trying to work it into a nice bouncy dough, though it’s really more like a Katamari Damacy ball.

While on vacation, I had a smallish epiphany which kind of snowballed once I got home.

We took a train home from Seattle (which–man! totally recommend it–had no idea of the stunning wilderness you get to witness in Washington and Montana on the Empire Builder). It was an impulse decision–and I’m so seldom impulsive anymore that it was doubly fun. We had an overnight layover in Chicago and were lucky enough to spend it with our friends Grace & Anthony & their fetching daughter, Tigerlily. I was admiring the charming Spasmodica dolls Grace used to make, and we started talking about the pitfalls of making stuff to sell, and how it can turn your creative joy into kind of a grind. She said when she started complain about orders, Anthony teased her for just wanting to “play store.” And I realized that’s my downfall, too. I like making stuff, initially, and setting up a shop, but I’ve never been ambitious enough to be really successful (at anything, really), so I never rise above the level competence that allows you to do okay, but never really become a rock star.

That, and I have the curse of the dilettante. I’m pretty good at way too many things, so I can never just pick one and focus on it enough to achieve mastery. Instead, I putter around in my unfocused way and feel peevish, and envious of my more focused brethren.

But anyway, this has been my story (fractured enthusiasm without ambition or focus, dilettantism) for a long time. Why does it suddenly bother me more than usual?

It turns out babies take forever.

Luckily, it’s a good forever, and I’m hooked and madly in love. But the giant time suck that is motherhood made me realize there are things I don’t wanna do any more. Like play store.

To that end, I’m going to quit having my little half-ass shop. I’ll still sell equipment and maybe Yarn School related supplies (or maybe not), and of course, the fiber from my own critters, but everything else, I’m getting rid of.  I hope I can make up that wedge of lost income by having more time to focus on the venue part of our operation, which is way more fun, anyway (you know, except for the vast oceans of laundry and dirty dishes it generates).

The bonus is that I love quitting. Quitting was my favorite part of working, and a luxury not often afforded to the self-employed.

I’m looking forward to more quitting and more winnowing in the near future. I really want to quit facebook for good and all, thought I love Scrabble too much to ditch it entirely. I’ve got a ridiculous stash of yarn I need to give a hard stare. I’ve got a whole storage room of crap, much of it leftover from my ebay days. I have supplies for a dozen hobbies that are not really for me. I have too much food in my freezer. I have so many clothes that no longer fit me. I have too. Much. Fucking. Stuff. Period. It all pulls me down like a giant squid. I wish to be rid of a good deal of it.

And then maybe, unfettered by the clinging vines of my excess possessions, excess occupations, excess hobbies, I can turn my mind’s eye again to that big, gooey blob, and give it a chance to rise.

Reverse Lent

First things first! I’ve got a signing for Literary Knits at the Topeka Barnes & Noble on February 23rd (Saturday) at 2pm. Come out!  Come out! I’m going to see if I can set up to do some kind of cool little demo, maybe thrums?

I’m trying to come to terms with having absolutely no control over the shape of my day. I’ve always been kind of all over the place, but having a baby is this crazy multiplier to my natural chaos. I truly get almost nothing done. I wish I could make a living by staring at the baby. Sadly, there’s no market in it. [Plus more general complaining which I deleted instead because Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz so boring. Speaking of boring, I’ve becoming obsessed with incredibly boring things, most notably cloth diapers. But that’s another equally boring story.]

The point is: Reverse Lent! Inspired by Zabet’s plans for Reverse Lent, I’ve decided to join in and make, do, eat, or buy something marvelous and indulgent every day. I’m going to treat myself, both to stuff and to making stuff.

So. Day 1, I bought this from 1canoe2 on etsy:

It’s darling, frivolous but reasonably priced, practical (avoid waste! eat thoughtfully! be healthy! detachable shopping list!), goes along with my Überlist, and will hopefully make what can be a rather tedious chore much more fun! Hoooray!

Day 2, I made this:

I’m pretty sure I’m going to frog the main thing any minute now so that only the nest remains, then crochet the base in plain yarn. I’d rather knit, but crochet is so much faster and easier for this sort of thing.

Day 3 (today), in honor of the crazy Russian meteor, I bought this:


And hopefully this will give me some motivation to pluck out a little time to kick around here a bit more.

Woolpacalypse! (Winter Woolfest in Wamego!)

Holy cow! Two weeks into the new year and I already don’t know my ass from my elbow (wait, is my elbow the big doughy thing?)! I’ve been running around like a lunatic, but of course I have found time to obsessively compile my new Überlist.

Tomorrow is Winter Woolfest! Come see me! I’ll be selling lovely woolly goodness and signing & selling my new book, Literary Knits! Look at all those exclamation points! (I can’t believe my book’s been out for almost 2 months and I still haven’t showed it off here yet. It’s really lovely! Stay tuned for  a showoff and giveaway next week. There. Now I have to do it.)

I’m back in the corner of the main floor. Look for my goofy pennants festooning my booth:

I’ll have tons of spinning and felting fiber, the new Cupcake Ranch CSA Fiber Shares (on sale for the first time finished–next round will be a pre-production, more like a traditional CSA), a Card-it-Yourself Batt Bar, spindles, hand cards, maybe even a few drum carders if I can fit them in my car. Maybe dye and undyed fiber if it will fit, too. IF THERE’S ANYTHING YOU ESPECIALLY WANT ME TO BRING FOR YOU, LET ME KNOW BY 7AM!

I was pretty nervous about doing this whole operation with Twyla Pearl (aka T. Pearl, Sweet T, Pearly, The Tiny Boss, T-Boney Maronie, Chili Dog, Puppy Chow, Cheeseburger, Tiny Tears, T-Bird, and Birdie), but supermom and amazing Woolfest creator & organizer (and Yarn School teacher extraordinaire) Jennifer Schermerhorn has been so incredibly helpful that I’m feeling a lot better about it.

Twyla Pearl, sporting her Adrian bonnet and overalls and her Melinda cardigan. Unfortunately, the Columbian is like a thousand fucking degrees, so she will not be wearing her darling knitted duds. She’s pretty hot-natured (thank goodness because the school is cold most of the time–though not with these 59F January days, huh?) and she would be wailing inside a few minutes, as would I. Hopefully, all the coming and going will cool the place down, because it was  bit too cozy tonight, even without scores of fiber fanatics. I’m already always red-faced and overheated, but I get extra hot when I’m nervous, so I’m afraid my head will burst into flames during my carding demo.

I set up my entire booth in a classroom yesterday, then broke it down and took it to Wamego (sans most of the merchandise) and set it up this afternoon, with Jennifer’s kids (and models from my book) hauling in everything for me because they are AWESOME.

Lucy (modeling Lyra Hood and Phoebe Coat), Jake & Sam (modeling Oskar Pullover, all from Literary Knits):

Okay, better go hang up all that last-minute dyeing, or a I’ll be dragging a bunch of wet wool with me tomorrow!

See you there! Huzzah!