Category Archives: Craft

A-spinning I shall go, A-spinning I shall go!

Over the weekend, I finished spinning one of the very first braids of wool that I ever dyed.  My first round at Yarn School (see in 2013, I didn’t really know what I was doing in the Dye Lab.  I have a degree in art, so I get color and I get saturation, and I get how to put colors together in a combination.  I dyed my fiber decently that year, but I was never overly excited about spinning it all because my color combinations just weren’t me.  Not yarn that I would knit with once I spun it.  Since then, I have learned a whole lot about wool and how different varieties and blends take color and what it will look like when it is spun since that is usually completely different than what it looks like before it is spun.  And then once it is knit up, it looks completely different again!

One of the groups that I am in on Ravelry is for people who own Kromski spinning wheels.  This month we had a spin along where the theme was What Was I Thinking.  We could choose a braid, a batt, a breed – something that was in our stash that didn’t seem to belong, that we didn’t know what the hell we were thinking to have it sitting there.  I chose a braid that I loving called Ugh, It’s a Deere!  I think you can see why.

spinning fiber
Ugh, It’s a Deere!

So, I started spinning right away and then got horribly bored with it.  These are NOT my colors.  But I had to get this fiber done before I could let myself move on to something that is more appealing.

Singles on the wheel
On the wheel

And so, this was the weekend to finish.  By last night, I was ready to take the single off the bobbin and wind it into a plying ball while watching The Last Alaskans.  And then while watching Game of Thrones (why? why do I watch this show??), I was plying up the yarn.

Plying Yarn on the Wheel
Plying a Deere

Into the bath it went before bed and then out on the deck to dry out.  This morning when I woke up, it was to discover that Ugh, It’s a Deere! has been transformed into To Green Bay and Back.  It is poofy and soft and lovely.  And I still hate the colors.  I texted a photo to my sister-in-law to see if she wants it and she snatched at it like she had never seen yarn before.

Finished Yarn
To Green Bay and Back

And so, in July when we are in the same general vicinity it will go to a loving home.  Which will be not mine.  And now, it is out of my stash and I can move on to something more fabulous.  I wonder what will be next?  I only have about 15 pounds of spinning fiber waiting for me!


Music and Books

Today at work, I had my headphones plugged in and had on a playlist that I call Mellow Shit.  Since I am of a certain age, it doesn’t have a lot of recent music on it.  It is easy for me to work to because it is music I know every word and every note of and I can put it into the back of my head and it drowns out the noise of my office.  Sometimes, though, I catch a line or a phrase or a whole song that brings me out of what I am doing.  And sometimes the songs will bring me back to a book that I have read.

Today the song that pulled me was another by Gordon Lightfoot – If You Could Read My Mind.  It always takes me into Jane Eyre.  The gothic imagery in the song make me think about the tragic hero that Mr. Rochester is, about the way I cry and cry and cry every time I read the book.  I even tried to watch the most recent movie version and started in about half way through and started crying immediately and didn’t stop until well after the movie finished.  I am definitely a weeper!

One of my ponderings today is that I love the song Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush.  It even inspired me to read the book about 10 years ago, but the book did not inspire the love in me that I wanted to have.  And I have never read any Jane Austen or seen any of the movies based on her books.  Am I missing something here?  I just know that Jane Eyre takes me to a place that no other story does.  And I always love reading other books or watching other movies and saying – Oh! They’re pulling a Jane here!

Today, I have no drawing for you, but I do have some new yarn that I just spun.  I have just returned from a most successful Yarn School.  And I dyed some fabulous fiber to make into amazing yarn.  Here is the first of what I dyed and spun:

BBQ Salmon

My Hobby is Out of Control

I have dreams like some horror movie.  My fiber stash holds an uprising. Feeling neglected, it comes at me for revenge.  I bet it could smother me with little effort.  I don’t even want to count the yards of yarn, the pounds of fiber, the number of projects I am in the middle of.  I don’t have any idea how many knitting needles or crochet hooks I have.  And I certainly don’t want to have any idea of the amount of money I have spent accruing all of these piles of stuff and methods of storing them.

There are some yarns I am hoarding until something perfect comes up.  I have this beautiful purple/gray yarn that is destined to be a top.  I have some unbelievably beautiful sparkly yarn that is so dark green and purple that it looks black.  That one needs to find just the right project.  Then there are the 5 skeins of softness that would become a sweater, but they are in two different colors and I don’t really want a striped sweater in these colors.  And so these are hoarded.

And sock yarn?  Holy cow do I have sock yarn!  I have two skeins specially dyed for me in deep dark red and black, a lovely lavender, a red white and blue combo that will be super cool when made into socks, a lovely spring green, and many self striping combos.  But I don’t really want to make socks.

Then, there is the fiber stash.  4 pounds of raw alpaca, 6 pounds I came home from yarn school with, the multiple pounds from previous yarn schools, some silk that is too beautiful to risk screwing it up, bamboo with spins amazingly.

I work, I come home, I make dinner, and then I have to decide – what gets my attention until I am ready to fall down for the night.  Do I crochet one of the 3 blankets I am working on?  Do I knit this amazing shawl?  Do I spin what is currently on the wheel?  Sometimes, I just start something new.  Like mittens or socks or washcloths.  Something I could finish quickly but I don’t because by the next night I have forgotten about that.

Or I could draw.  Or paint.  Or sew. Or quilt.  There is too much.  Too much.  But don’t ask me to give any of it up.  It’s just not going to happen.  I swear, one day, I will be done with all the things.  Until then, let me keep worrying that it will attack me in my sleep.

Today’s drawing is String 027.  Link:

String 27
2014-11-19;, String 027

Looking Ahead

How many times do I spend my days wishing the time away – wishing it was 5 o’clock, wishing today was Friday, wishing it was spring or summer or autumn?  Is it human nature to do that – to look forward to what we know is ahead and we perceive to be better than what we are doing today, right now?  Today I am looking ahead and looking forward to several things – again, wishing today away.

Tomorrow night, the Boy will be celebrating his 17th birthday by having 7 of his friends over to have a draft for Magic the Gathering.  His main gift from us is a new box of cards, chosen by him for this draft.  I don’t pretend to understand what any of this means, other than a home full of hungry teenage boys.  We are ordering pizza.  Lots of pizza.  And A1 will be making a double batch of Tollhouse bars.  A1 is a fabulous baker and we have pretty much turned all of the baking in the house over to her.  Then all of these boys will be spending the night.  Where and how they are all going to fit into the Boy’s room, I have no idea.  Nor do I really care.  They are 17.  They can figure it out.  They will then be getting up bright and early (ha!) and heading off to Record Store Day.  I hear there are some special records being released that are ‘must haves’ in the Boy’s world.

While the testosterone festival is leaving the building, A1 has a swim meet.  It will be her third one this week.  As a freshman, she is on the high school team for the first time and is still getting used to it.  But I have to say that her swimming has progressed beautifully and she looks amazingly poised and confident at the meets.  Her birthday is Monday and she has asked for it to be mostly ignored.  She does want a hair straightener.  Ok.  I can do that.  After that, there is a high school band performance on Wednesday.  Both the Boy and A1 will participate in that.  Their high school band is a joy to watch, so I am looking forward to everything about that except sitting on the bleachers.

In spite of having two birthday’s in the upcoming week, the one thing I am so much looking forward to is Yarn School.  Yarn School.  Friends, booze, spinning, knitting, dyeing, booze… How can I possibly wait!  I leave in one week and drive for a couple hours to check in to an old high school building in a field in the middle of nowhere until Sunday night.  There is something about this annual trek (this is my 3rd year) that makes me so happy in such unexplainable ways.  There are so many things about it to not recommend it and yet, I keep putting my money down and keep going.  I am pretty sure there will be an upcoming post titles Yarn School.  Keep your eyes open for that!

Today’s drawing is String # 024 – Oh! I like this one!  Link to the string page:

String 024
11-14-2014;, String 024

1, 2, 3… Go Friday!

We’ll call today a day of counting.  Low number (mostly) counting.

  1. Today is the first day of the kids’ spring break.  One whole week plus one day of sleeping in and doing nothing.  Of course, they have big plans – at least A2 and the boy do.  A1 really just likes to be at home.  Such a homebody – she takes after me.  A2 wants to spend the days and nights with her friends who live around us, but she needs someone to run her around.  Too bad.  No one is around that can do that.  The boy has big plans with his friends who are not off to sunnier climates for break.  However, he has been told that certain jobs must be done first.  He may be sitting at home for the break waiting for those jobs to get done.
  2. Today is the boy and the husband’s second college visit.  They are going to the University of Kansas, which I am certain is a very good school.  However, I cringe at the thought of him being a Jayhawk.  On the other hand, it might make it easier for us to find basketball tickets for when Iowa State comes to town…  Speaking of Iowa State, they will be playing their second game in the Big 12 conference championship tonight against a very good Oklahoma team.  They squeaked out a win in the last possible second against Texas last night.  Texas played the best I have seen them play all season.  If ISU is going to continue on, they has better change their game plan of coming from behind to win in the 2nd half.
  3. And 3.  Today is my third day at my new job.  I am finding it to be a very interesting workplace.  The people I meet are such stereotypes.  To describe people to the husband, I have only to name a person that we both know from the past.  There is the hoarder who has been at the job for about 20 years and has so much stuff in her cube that it spills out into the aisle.  There is the ambiguously gay man who is married (to a woman), but he welcomed me by bringing me a couple of necessary supplies – a box of Kleenex and a bottle of hand sanitizer.  That’s it.  No pens or paper.  I almost burst out laughing at the poor guy.  But I like it here.  The people are very nice.  The environment is very casual and easy-going.  And the views of the city from the office windows?  Amazing!!

Today’s photo is of the latest yarn I have spun.  It is much less hideous than I originally thought it would be, but the husband calls it Halloween Barf.  And that name has stuck.  It has every color in the rainbow in it except for red.  To be honest, it didn’t look this bad in the fiber bag when I received it.  Thank goodness it was free!

Ugly Yarn
Halloween Barf

Watching the Snow Fall

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Me Time.”

As I have told you before in my post ‘Silence’, I love quiet Saturday mornings.  Today, the snow is falling gently in the woods and the fireplace is lit.  For some reason, I am alone in the living room and the Dukes of Hazzard is on the TV.  And also for some reason, it is an episode I have seen more than once.  I think it’s time to turn the TV off.

Me time.  My butt has imprinted the sofa in the most perfect way.  I have a blanket that is soft and snuggly.  I’m thinking about a cup of coffee.  Which would require me to get up off the sofa.  The fire probably needs another log, so up I go – two things at one time.  Okay, that’s done.  For my quiet Saturday morning – now into early afternoon – I will do some drawing, some crochet, maybe some spinning.  I have laundry to fold and more to wash but that can wait.  Wait for the family to come in an break my silent reverie. Until then, I have the crackling of the fire and the snow coming down a little more persistently now.

I have a favor to ask of you, my friends.  I find much inspiration in lines of poems, song lyrics, small turns of words.  Can you help me with future blog posts by giving me a few words that you think I could use as a starting point for a blog post?  I fear I will become boring if I simply tell you what is going on here in the woods.  My life is an endless repeat of craft, art, laundry, food, and sleep.  Inspiration is not always easy.  So please give me a starting place.  We can both be surprised by where it takes us.

Today’s drawing is String 013 – link:  This is one of my favorite drawings I have done.  Rather than many random patterns within the guidelines of the given string, this feels like a cohesive drawing.  I am rather pleased with it.  I hope you like it too.

String 013
9/15/2015; String 013

It’s a Slippery Slope, My Friends

Arts and Crafts are a slippery slope.  You walk into Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby and see all the stuff.  And it all looks so interesting and easy to do.  Today, I want to tell you about my fall down the side of a steep hill.  Or a jump off of a cliff.  Really, it’s all the same, isn’t it?  But let me start by saying that I was a crafty child and my undergraduate degree is in art.  So the leap was an easy one to make when it came.

I have, in my adult life, always been a quilter.  Quilting is a beautiful expression of art in fabric.  And I am a purist – piecing by machine, quilting by hand.  So my production level was very low.  I did produce some amazingly beautiful pieces – one of which was done entirely by hand, piecing included.  It was a baby quilt for my best friend’s first baby who will be graduating from high school this year.  It is still lovingly referred to in their home as ‘Aunt Maura’s quilt’ and is now put away as an heirloom.  The pride I feel when I hear that is worth every minute spent. In the last five years, however, fibromyalgia has taken over my life.  And most specifically my hands.  The movements and the grip necessary to quilt are no longer possible for me to do.  The devastation I feel about this loss is indescribable.  One of my life’s goals was/is to complete a whole cloth quilt.  I have one started and I just cannot continue.

At Christmas about the same time I was struggling with the realization that my hands were unable to quilt, my sister-in-law offered to teach my daughter to knit.  We bought her a kit for Christmas and Sue began to teach her.  I decided that since Sue would be leaving to fly back home, I should probably learn to knit so that I could help A1 if she should need it.  Ha.  I say again, Ha.  It turned out that the way Sue knit (she’s a thrower) did not work for me.  I was completely confused.  Several hours and YouTube videos later, I was knitting.  And A1 had long since given up.  An addict was born.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some needles and some slightly better yarn than Red Heart Super Saver and began making.  And knit and knit and knit.  Many YouTube videos taught me how to do new and exciting stitches.  And then I found Ravelry.  Oh, the love I feel for Ravelry.  Seriously.  I found my people.  They were so passionate about fiber arts and so encouraging about how easy it all was.  (Damned enablers)

Around that time, we moved from Iowa to Kansas.  The house we bought had a baby grand piano in the living room corner when we viewed it.  As we were moving in, a nosy neighbor (I have gotten to know her enough now to call her nosy) asked if we were going to put a piano in the corner also.  No, I replied.  I thought a spinning wheel would look amazing there.  What?  What just came out of my mouth?  I don’t spin.  I don’t want to spin.  There is enough yarn in the stores to knit with!  Within three months, I had a spinning wheel and was starting to produce my own yarn.  I really don’t know how that happened.

By this time, I have several thousand dollars worth of fabric, sewing machines, knitting needles, yarn, spinning wheel and fiber.  And as I am walking through JoAnn’s or Michael’s, a book on crocheting Granny Squares jumps (I swear it jumped) into my cart.  Crochet?  What the hell?  So, now I have crochet hooks and I am studying diagrams on crochet stitches and putting together granny squares.  Guess what?  You can produce a square faster by crocheting than by knitting!  I’m sold!  Today I am working on a blanket for my dad that is going to consist of the International Maritime Signal Flags.  And a star shaped afghan for my husband.  And maybe another blanket just because.  It turns out, I can crank out crochet blanket yardage really quickly using the yarn in my stash that I was unable to knit due to hand strain.  Slippery freakin’ slope.  Next, I think I may want to get a loom and try my hand at weaving.  The husband might just leave me at that point though.  So I am holding off on that for at least a year!

Today’s drawing comes from String 012 – link:  Really not one of my favorites.  But I did promise to give you everything.

String 012
9/12/2014; String 012

Cleaning House

I just got off a phone call with a recruiter for a job.  It is probably a good job, but I will never know.  I turned it down when I heard two things “finance” and “50% travel”.  One of those would have probably done it for me, but both?  No chance.  I am not in a position where I can just turn down chances at jobs.  I have been out of a job for over 5 months and every month I don’t have a job, money is coming out of our savings account to pay for our bills.  What does this have to do with cleaning house?  I am in the process of cleaning my mental house – sweeping out the cobwebs and organizing my closets.  Part of this cleaning is to realize that I am not just looking for a job, but I am looking for the right job.  The right fit for me and for those in my life.  Luckily, I do have two more interviews set up for the coming week.  Each of these sound like a much better fit for what I am looking for.

Part 2 of Cleaning House involves cleaning my yarn stash.  I have in my stash several skeins of some pretty bad yarn.  It is much loved by many people and is very popular at the big box stores.  However, it is not pleasant to knit with, it splits like nobody’s business, and the ends fray so badly that they must be knotted as soon as they are cut.  I have about 12 skeins in 5 or 6 different colors – mostly blue and tan.  It has been sitting in my stash for over a year, bothering me because I didn’t want to knit it and couldn’t figure out what to do with it.  I saw a pattern online yesterday for a blanket made out of this same yarn.  It is crocheted, so I pulled out a skein of yarn and started it.  Guess what?  It crochets up beautifully, quickly and easily!  So I’m off to the races.  I can clean out a dozen skeins of yarn that I don’t want to have in my stash any longer.  Woo Hoo!

Today’s picture from is String 010, link:

String 010
9/9/2014; String 010

I Art; Therefore,

It feels so funny to say “Oh! Thank goodness it’s Friday!” when I don’t have a job and the weekend brings not a lot different than the weekdays.  But I am happy it is Friday.  Perhaps it is the difference in energy given off by the family that makes me feel that way.  I just sent A2 out to the bus after having a serious conversation about art and artists.  It seems that she is passionate about Van Gogh and is doing a school art project based on one of his paintings.  We discussed how he (nose wrinkled) had only part of one ear left and how troubled souls can be makers of great art.  What would have happened to Van Gogh if he lived now in the availability of high quality pharmaceuticals?  Would he still have been the great and influential artist that we see him as today?

That brings me to my point today – why do I create the objects, the drawings, the yarn that I do?  I don’t know if there is ever a good answer to Why? in creation.  Because! seems to be the right answer most of the time and the rest of the time is Why not?  I remember always being a crafty, coloring, doodling child.  But I also remember my mother dismissing anything I made and always feeling like I was lacking talent.  That feeling took years for me to get over.  It also led me to parent my children differently – never wanting to leave them with the impression that I thought their art or creation was somehow lacking.  Are they going to make millions or be a childhood prodigy? No.  Does that matter? No.  As a knitter, there is a common conversation among my fellow knitters – process vs product.  Most often for me, the act of creation is greater than what I get in the end.  I think this is the reason that I never have a difficult time in giving away a project that I spent a lot of money and time in creating.  I am attached to the process of the creating rather than the product of the creation.  Once in a while, though, I do find something that I just have to keep, where the process leads to something that I do want to keep and treasure.  And sometimes I start out thinking that I am going to make something that I really want to own and end up not liking it at all and then giving it away.  No, not liking is not the right term.  I think that what I mean is that it is not what I thought it was going to be and I would prefer to share it with someone else.

Today I plan to do a little drawing and a bunch of knitting.  I am to the point on a sweater where I will be putting the sleeves on scrap yarn and then joining the sweater to knit in the round.  I would like to make some good progress on it today.  I do have my great-niece spending the day with me, so I foresee watching a lot of cartoons and maybe she and I will do a little kid appropriate yoga.  Man, I love Fridays.

This brings me to today’s art of the day.  It is String 009, not one of my favorite finished drawings.  Link:

String 009
9/8/2014;, String 009

P.S.  I am going to be making some changes to the layouts on the Tangled Gallery and the Fiber Gallery.  So don’t be alarmed!