Tag Archives: weaving

Another “Is too much” post

Another “Is too much” post

Another gap.  ::glares at the calendar::  I think I’m going to have to make February a Blog Every Day month just to get back in the groove.  But today, let me summarize.

1. The kids are back in school, but not without changes.  I’ve had to pull Hero from color guard, as she’s continued to fail several of her classes.  I feel bad, because I know it’s the ADHD finally rearing its ugly head, but I couldn’t not do anything, either (pardon the double negative).  Three practices a week was just too much of a time commitment, and I couldn’t pull her from Odyssey of the Mind, as that would have punished the whole team and not just her.  But that situation resolved itself as well.  The OM higher-ups had changed the parameters of the challenge the team was working on three months in, invalidating all the work the kids had been doing.  Three of their members had quit the team, leaving them at the minimum participants allowed (which was why I couldn’t pull Hero), and they were demoralized and no longer committed.  After much soul searching on their part, they decided to disband the team for this year.  I think it was a relief for all of them, although their coach was heartbroken.  Now we just have to focus on getting Hero back on track.  I’m getting her tested with the school and am trying to get an appointment for her at CHOP to be formally diagnosed as ADHD.  I’m really torn about medicating her, but we may have to at least for a little while while we work with developing other coping skills.  None of the tools we’re trying to put in place for her right now are taking, and it may just be that she’s too out of control to internalize them.  But hopefully we can get her through the year and by fall have her back on track.

2.  The house has gotten a bit out of control.  Christmas took the card system right off the table and I’ve had a hard time getting it back.  I suspect I’m going to have to start it from scratch, pull all the cards and re-introduce them like I did when I started.  Which still won’t be as hard as it was the first time around.  It’s not that the house is bad.  It’s just not where it was.  There are piles everywhere, small piles, but piles nonetheless.  The dishes aren’t getting done nightly, which means the counters and floor aren’t getting done regularly and the floor needs a mopping.  I can’t remember who’s turn it is to get their bed linens washed (probably mine).  I just need to…start clean.  Give myself permission.  Yup, that’s it.  This weekend I’m pulling all the cards, sorting them by room and starting from scratch.  Hell, I’ll do it today.  The living room won’t take that long to get back on track.  Can do the dining room Wednesday and Thursday, then the kitchen and bathroom this weekend.  Yup, that’s a plan.  Thanks, guys!

3.  I’m behind on Sleepy Hollow and Elementary, but OMG are you guys watching Agent Carter?  WHY NOT???  It’s encapsulating every perfect thing about feminism and equality and heroism and glam and SHE BEAT A GUY UP WITH A FUCKING STAPLER!!!  I’m actually trying out power lipsticks thanks to this show.  You have to watch it.  Honestly, it’s such an utter joy.  And I may have a tiny little crush on Hayley Atwell..

4.  Hrm.  I thought I had a 4, but maybe not.  Life hasn’t been THAT exciting, which isn’t a bad thing.

5. OH!!  I sold my loom!  This is a kind of sad thing, because I wanted to learn more weaving, but I just didn’t love it enough, and it was taking up a lot of space in the house, which as you know I don’t have as much of as I’d like.  So I put it up on Ravelry and an 83 year old former Marine from Pittsburgh bought it!  Nikki and I drove out to Harrisburg with it last weekend to swap with him, and he was just the nicest guy.  I know the loom is going to a good home where it will be well used.  And I got $400 out of it, so that’s a good thing!  Still keeping an eye out for a cheap drum carder or hand cards, though.

So, can she stay current?  Stick around to find out!

Enable is a four letter word.

Enable is a four letter word.

Fiber arts aren’t just a hobby.  They’re a way of life.  I learned this a long time ago.  My parents were both fiber artists.  My mother earned extra money sewing some of the most amazing soft sculptures (I still have one of her angels on my wall, and there’s a calico lion somewhere in the house), while my dad traded elaborate crocheted afghans for dental work and I learned how to do counted cross-stitch by stealing his projects.  I learned the basics of knitting, crocheting, quilting and sewing from them when I was a kid, but I was never very good at it and let it drop in favor of other interests.

Then a few years ago (holy crap, it was over 5 years ago now!) Deb brought a knitting project with her to our annual writers weekend.  Writers weekend for us is kind of like deer camp is for some guys: a chance to get away from our families and responsibilities for a few days under the guise of doing something productive.  And usually we are productive.  But that year, the writing just wasn’t happening for any of us.  Deb kept getting out her cute little sock project, and finally Nikki said, “I want to learn how to knit.  Teach me how to knit socks.”  Deb and I looked at each other.  I could do garter stitch and that was about it, but even I knew that you didn’t start with socks. But Nikki was insistent, and there happened to be a yarn store in town that was one of the few shops still open on the Jersey Shore in January, so we went.

Yarn stores are evil.  They tempt you with color and texture and convince you that you can do anything.  The lady sitting there working on a pair of ribbed socks pointing out how Scottish children learned how to knit socks when they were 6 didn’t help.  Nikki wasn’t the only one to come home with yarn and needles that day.  $50 later, I was on my way to an obsession.

She washed out of the socks before the end of the weekend.  But I was determined.  It took me about three weeks, but in the end, I had a pair of socks.

first sock

They weren’t a good pair, but they were socks.  I still have them, and still wear them.

By the end of the year, I had done 10 pairs of socks and was hooked.  Well, not hooked hooked.  The crochet wouldn’t come into the picture for a couple of years yet, until I decided to make a pair of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson dolls for the 2012 Ravellenic Games for Team SHERlocked:

johnsherlock dolls

Yeah, still not a big crocheter, although there have been more projects.  You can check them out on my Ravelry page if you’re interested.

But fiber artists are enablers.  It’s what we do.  I started going to a local stitching group.  I learned how to knit socks two at a time on two circulars.  I was introduced to the joy and wonder of Sheep and Wool festivals.  And there were spinners in my group.  OMG spinning.  I’d wanted to learn how to spin for a long time, and had even been shown myself with a spindle as one of my magical tools.  So when the opportunity came along to learn, I grabbed it.  I bought myself a pretty little top whorl spindle, and I started learning.

I was crap.

Yeah, I know, skills take time, but holy shmoly, I was BAD.  I just couldn’t get the fiber to draft properly.  It constantly fought me so that I ended up with clumps and breaks and half the fiber went in the trash and I hated it.  My teacher was very supportive, but I just didn’t feel like I was getting it, so I put it aside.

Fiber artists are enablers.  Never, EVER forget that.

I’m active in the 221b group on Ravelry.  It’s a great group with every type of fiberista imaginable.  And they are all fucking enablers.  I watched people creating beautiful yarns from bits of fluff.  I ran the team for the 2010 Ravellenics Games and watched more yarns being magically created.  I was introduced to the Tour de Fleece and watched longingly.

And then my mother gave me $200 for my birthday/Christmas money.  Thanks, mom.

With doubt and insanity, I went on Etsy to see what my $200 could get me.

And discovered Bluebonnet Spinning Wheels.

These wheels are handmade by a great guy down in Texas, and the stripped down version, the Bumblebee, was $199.  Happy birthday to me!  So I ordered it.  When it came, I put it together and tried it out.

I still sucked.  Fuck.

So much for all my fantasies about being an intuitive spinner.  I’d just wasted all that money on something that was going to sit in the corner taking up space and collecting dust.

Fiber artists are enablers.  They are also willing teachers.

I hadn’t seen my spindle teacher in years outside of Rhinebeck.  I’d had to start working a regular job that kept me from going to the afternoon stitch and bitches, and because of the distances, she’d stopped coming to the evening ones.  We stayed aware of each other, but didn’t really talk.  But when I sent out the call on Twitter, she called me right back, and we set up a lesson that week.

This time, I got it.

It took about half an hour of playing and asking questions.  She wasn’t familiar with Scotch tensioning, so that made things a little harder in figuring out pick-up.  One of our other friends was there as well, so I watched her spin fine singles, watched her hands, followed the motions, and by the end of the hour I was getting them.  My teacher kept warning me not to go so thin, but I’ve always done things small, and the singles were thin but even(ish), so I stayed where I was comfortable.  And it was good.  I left there with some practice fibers and motivation.  She had warned me that it would take a pound of fiber to master the muscle memory, so I committed to doing exactly that.  I was a regular player in the Nerd Wars games on Ravelry, so I set myself the dissertation challenge of spinning a pound.  I had a four ounce skein of Merino left over from my first spindling attempts, and I ordered a 4 oz. skein of black and white that I would create a Sherlock-themed yarn from.  And then I bought 12 oz. of… I still don’t know what it is.  I know the sheep it came from was named Rocco Bama, which guaranteed I had to have it, so that’s good enough for me.  That was my starting point.  By the time I finished with Rocco, I had gone from a DK weight to a light fingering.  I was a spinner.

T7 dissertation

Oh, and remember how I couldn’t spin on a drop spindle?  Learning how to draft for the wheel solved almost all those problems.  I’m still not great with a drop, but I’m better.  Better enough that I’m wanting to get some more.

But did I mention the enabler thing?  Yeah.  Done with knitting and spinning, one of my fellow 221bers moved on to enabling weaving.  I was weak by this point.  Resistance had proven futile so far, and I was starting to wonder why I even bothered trying.  So I grabbed Hero’s lap loom, warped it up and tried weaving a bag on it.  HATED it.  Not just the process, which was so inefficient, but the fabric as well.  But I’d seen the beautiful, colorful, silky product other people could make.

And Mom gave me another $200 last year.

fluorite scarf

So I now have a loom in my living room.  it takes up quite a bit of space, but I’ve already made one scarf on it that I’m in love with and have a second one warped right now.  I’m not great at it, but I’m not bad, and I can learn to get better.  I have this plan to weave 2′ x 4′ sections and send them to Mom for her to cut up and sew into vests or a swirly coat for me.  Not until after I’ve lost all my weight, of course, but it’s something I could work on while the weight is coming off.

The Rav group has moved on to dyeing.  I didn’t even hesitate to order the food dyes this time.  Why bother?