Shout-Out Saturday, and Online Fibery Stuff

I’ve been thinking about the net and the fiber community lately, for no real reason other than that, well, I guess I’m often thinking about that sort of thing.

As long as I’ve been online (which goes back to the era when .com was the least populous domain and email addresses were often bang paths and even some connectivity providers did it with modems), the same social dynamics have been in play in every online scene. You’ve got the net.curmudgeons talking about how it’s not like it used to be, the newbies making stupid mistakes despite all sorts of earnestness, a chorus of people saying “But did you read the FAQ?” You have recurring flamewars that devolve into flamewars about whether or not to have a flamewar. People come and go and folks wonder where they came from and where they went. Small, cozy groups turn into big, anonymous-seeming institutions. Groups split, and merge, get more active, die down to nothingness and disappear. Thriving subcultures pop up unexpectedly in the strangest of places. A handful of people devote tons and tons of time to making community stuff go, and hordes of people are able to avail themselves of those things. Sometimes folks doing that kind of stuff burn out and scenes change forever. Sometimes things get too big and noisy to really function well anymore. Sometimes you just can’t find the signal you’re looking for amid all the noise.

There are lots and lots of fabulous folks in the fiber world online, and lost of wonderful resources. And lots of us take the ones we know about for granted, and assume everyone already knows about them. Sometimes we’ll discover new ones and become addicted to them, but not stop to think of mentioning them to our other pals. I’m terrible about updating the links to blogs I read, for instance. I read TONS of you who I haven’t linked to yet.

So I’ve decided I’m going to make an effort to do a Shout-Out Saturday thing every week. What does this mean? Every Saturday, I’ll give a shout-out (or several shouts out!) to folks whose online fiber work I appreciate. With Shout-Out Saturdays, I want to take a moment to say thank you to the people making efforts, bringing fiber stuff into my online life, working on fiber community, and so forth.

So, here are my first shout-outs:

Sandra’s Loom Blog

Sandra Rude is a production weaver, who does a variety of things, and talks in very understandable ways about technical weaving topics. Her photos are amazing, as is her work. I’m really fond of her recent Fire Scarf series. While there are a fair number of things you can find online about more basic weaving topics, Sandra is one of very few people covering more difficult topics, more advanced stuff, higher-end weaving.

Mostly Knitting

Sarah is a real powerhouse. Seriously. Just look:

Knitting And…

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been googling for some rather random thing (you know, like “leafy lace pattern chart vintage oak leaf roses vine edging” and the answer’s at, and it’s there because of work Sarah did transcribing, documenting, and so forth. Sarah’s the woman behind the Knitting Wiki… for which I’ve promised content and not yet delivered, *cough*!

Ask The Bellwether

If you think I answer a lot of questions on lists, in forums, whatever, check out Amelia. Seriously. All that, and she has a fabulous shop!


Ellen is writing about fibers, quite a bit about fibers. Ever wonder “What’s so great about Merino anyway?” Check out Sheepwreck.


I don’t know how she does it, but Marcy finds the most amazing historical, cross-cultural, ethnographic, anthropological, and archaeological spinning content and images of anybody I know. And I know a lot of people with that set of interests! I’ve seen things pictured at her blog that I’d never even heard of before, and believe me, that’s saying a lot.

So to the five of you this morning, I say thank you. Each one of you contributes to my online fiber world in tremendous ways, and I’m glad you’re there (whether you read this blog or not!)

Tune in next Saturday for more shouts out.

Dear Cassie

Dear Cassie,

It’s been very nice getting to know you online the past little while. I’ve been enjoying our correspondence, and I am thrilled that you’ve been so happy with your Creamsicle fiber. As I think I may have mentioned, the merino/silk/camel blend is absolutely one of my favourites to spin. So I felt very enthusiastic when you said something about “red,” and even more so when you expressed such confidence in me and said, “Oh, just make something nice.”

So enthusiastic, in fact, that I dyed no less than 7 different reds on 3 different fibers yesterday. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and fed (no doubt) by recent rains, the geraniums on the deck were starting to bloom afresh. I rather suspect that, as I was thinking about reds, I was staring at those blossoms in their little clay pots with a pleasant breeze tickling them. As the merino top, silk sliver, and loose camel dried, their colours lightened (as you’d expect) and they kept growing closer and closer to various hues of geranium.

Still, though, I felt the silks were too pink. I had to take those out of the running. I feared I was off to the blue side with the merino top, too. The camel, though, 60 grams of it, came out an absolutely delicious scarlet — the very shade you see when you… okay, when I jab myself with a needle and a drop wells up before attempting to stain whatever it was I worked on at the time. Nothing gets redder than that.

This morning, once everything was dry, I took it all to Cardzilla, and we got started. Things were actually worse than I’d thought, alas. Parts of the merino top — which I had dyed to be variegated so as to create some depth to the colour — were outright pink. While this is always a risk with dyeing anything red, I was disappointed. I also had to eschew the silks that I’d dyed for this purpose in their entirety; while they’re lovely deep pink, that isn’t red. I was forced to look around for other red silk (fortunately I do have a little).

Tragically however, when all is said and done, I just don’t think you’re going to like this fiber at all. Now, before you say anything, please rest assured that I’m not writing this letter to you because of the tendency you and I discussed, where I tend to not sell the merino/silk/camel blends because I like them too much. Of course that’s not what’s going on here, and I’m sure you’d never accuse me of anything so crass. Really, it’s just that this fiber is terrible, and you wouldn’t like it at all. The colour is completely wrong. The proportion of silk isn’t what I originally planned for. Everything’s just completely off.

Also, my son touched it, so it has boy cooties. Those are contagious, you know. But since he’s my child, I’m immune, so clearly, the only thing for me to do is put this in my stash and keep you safe from it. I’m only doing this for your own good. It hurts me more than it hurts you.

Best wishes,


P.S. Here are a few pictures so you can see how awful it is.

P.P.S. It doesn’t match the geraniums at all.

P.P.P.S. So I don’t think it has a natural-looking red to it like you said you like.

See? It’s terribly primary coloured.

P.P.P.P.S. Sucker! You didn’t believe me, did you?


What I feel like doing today: sitting in a recliner knitting on that shawl, drinking lots of coffee.

What I will be doing today: packing boxes and making a post office run, and dyeing this pile.

Everyone should have such problems, eh what?

The several days of rain — for which I’m incredibly grateful, after the June drought — seem finally to have lowered the dew point below 75F, and dropped us out of the mid to high 90s. I’m hoping the absence of crushing heat, combined with high doses of caffeine, will conspire to cause incredible productivity today.

Oh, so what’s in that pile to be dyed? Well, I probably won’t make it through the remnants of that Merino bump (and yeah, there’s another one on the way). My superwash/tencel isn’t here yet, so that won’t be on the list. That brown blobby looking stuff is loose camel, which is destined for blends. There’ll also be some tussah silk (not pictured) for blends, plus a few special requests for silk colours. Oh, you know — have you ever seen a bump of tussah silk sliver?

Now you have. A typical 4-year-old could probably lay down next to it and be similar in length. The 4-year-old would be heavier, though; this is 6 kg (or 13.mumble pounds). It’s floppy; the silk bumps are in a put-up essentially like what you often get with pin-drafted roving. They can be a little hard to wrestle into a storage area neatly so you can pull fiber off them in a hassle-free way. I often wrestle them into submission in the hall as a result, then move them into the pre-dye closet which isn’t exactly the same as quarantine since I’ll dye stuff before quarantine is up, due to the fact that I dye with prolonged heat, which kills, you know, the eggs of the M word. But otherwise, it’s a 3-6 week quarantine on new incoming stuff, just in case. I really can’t talk about that more though, because They might be listening. You know, them. I don’t want them to find me.

So anyway, here’s the in-progress tussah, which I think is about half gone. I’m sort of okay for tussah right now, what with one full bump and about a half of another, right? 20 or so pounds oughta be enough to do a little work with, I think (not counting what’s already dyed).

Okay, enough of that! Here’s what I think you’ll really like, though:

Yeah. Know what that is? I guess it doesn’t look like anything all that awesome in this form. You know… yet. C’mon, somebody knows what that is! Anybody?

If we’re all lucky — seeing as how I have already blown my “personal stash” budget for the month, and shouldn’t really go into hock to Franquemont Fibers (yep, I have my own bar tab, and it comes out of my pay) — that last stuff will be up for sale this weekend. In all sorts of colours. You will all be saying “Ooooh,” even though right now, it looks like… nothing.

And that sort of gets to the real point of this post, which is: look what a difference colour can make. I mean, there’s some fabulous, incredible fiber here, but yet, this is about the blandest blog post ever. It needs… more zazz. I might as well have just written a list, and included no photos at all.

Oh, Kaylee says she loves the days when boxes come in. Here she is with an empty to play with, taunted by a pair of boxes which contain my new motorized Mr. Skeiny that I still haven’t had a chance to unpack.

I think that Shrek bucket was giving her a hard time, truth to tell.

And with that, I leave you, to go slave over hot dyebaths all day.

One More Rainy Day

I spent rainy yesterday tidying a bit. It was a day of impressive thunderstorms. Storm the third for the day was reported on the evening news as having dumped 1.65 inches of rain on this town specifically, in about 90 minutes. Not a good week to want to dry things outside, I suppose.

So, I picked up some trash.

Just random bits of drum carder offal, and an ounce or so of merino.

It’s mostly sort of lavender with flashes of colour.

See? I spin not thread sometimes. This’ll be for a felted project — the Trash Bag. Coming soon.

That only took about 90 minutes all told though, for blending and spinning. And it got Cardzilla clean! And I finally did hit that bead shop in town. This, in turn, meant I could work on that shawl — which after everyone’s help and suggestions and everything, I’m calling the Foggy Foggy Dew. Naming things after songs amuses me, but perhaps all the more when they’re arguably a little obscure or even ambiguous. Depending on how you define obscure, I suppose; within its familiar genres, the song’s not at all obscure, but they’re perhaps niche genres. In any case, I love ballads — any ballad — and old ones with histories and apocrypha, all the more.

I did end up staying up past my bedtime to reach a stopping point I liked, and take some pictures. Oops. It wasn’t an evening without incident, despite the manchild’s assistance in luring cats away from bead-sorting efforts; at one point, my mother called (it’s all her fault of course) and I left the project sitting on my chair while I walked off talking with her and my niece. When I returned, I had to kick Kaylee off it. And I found…

Oh, that is going to be annoying as that ball gets more used up.

I did reach this point, however:

Then the help turned back up.

Then the more help.

Paimei was incredibly helpful. He bit the head off a pin so it was impossible to remove from the carpet without tools.

Still, my sense of the size of this project is aided by this. It is, after all, not even big enough to be a cat blanket right now. 34 inches across the top edge (not blocked, really, though).

I had to finish the last row I finished, or I was going to be at risk of starting, and not remembering what I was doing, even though I know exactly what I’m doing.

It’s in the leaves. This time through there are 2 5-diamond diamonds bounded by leaves.

I guess they’ll sort of look like squares when the thing is done, though, since it’s knit diagonally.

But it should look more diamondlike when it’s being worn.

Odds of finishing this project this week: zero.

Oh, and in other news, I’m sick of looking at the same inventory right now, so it’s all 10% off, here:

starting in about an hour, all through Sunday.

The kindness of strangers…

…I’ve decided to make a Sprout. Clearly I’m bingeing on Amy’s work right now, eh? I’ll have to spin something for it.

Several of you have suggested a dew themed name for the triangle. I like that. It is now the Dew Drop Shawl… and partly charted. I hope you can guess what that means! Thank you all for suggestions.

I’d planned yesterday to go to the bead shop in town and buy some nicer beads to switch to at the logical point in the shawl to do so — which was 2 rows away, so clearly, I had to go now. Unfortunately though, this was not to be. I had a pile of packages outbound from over the weekend, so I loaded them into the Trans Am and headed to pick Edward up from day camp, figuring I had a clear win with “Help me with all these packages and then an errand to the bead store, and you get a slushy on the way home.”

The proposal was definitely a win; unsurprising, since it was pushing 100F, and on the muggy side. We made it to the post office without event, and the manchild was a tremendous help getting everything shipped, then opining on the differences in cost between shipping to the UK and Canada. We hopped in the Mommy Car, I turned the key, and she went CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK WHINE, reset all the electronics, opened the rear hatch and popped the trunk.

Oh my.

Now, mind you, the Mommy Car, whose name is Ginny, is 7 years old; but she’s a creampuff. They really don’t get much more creampuffy than she is. In 2000 when I bought her new, there was talk of her discontinuation and you had to know that she was getting on towards being the last of the real American muscle cars. She was built to eat the Interstate Highway system for lunch and come back for dinner, then belch loudly, cruise slowly down the street with a V8 growl, hover in anticipation at a red light and, when it turns green, leave anybody else there in a cloud of rubber-scented smoke waiting to follow twin black streaks of rubber into the distance where, by the time they catch up, Ginny’s already set up a picnic and taken the t-tops off and makes a killer stereo too.

Or, you know, pick up the kid from day camp, run to the post office, hit the supermarket, that sort of thing. And let us not forget take the t-tops off and opt for the back roads at 45 or 50, smelling the breeze and blinking in the dappled sun filtering through the trees, hair a tangled mess and slathered in sunscreen, running an errand a few towns over. Mmmmm.

I mean, okay, so she isn’t built for heavy hauling. Or long road trips with more than one passenger. Or being easy to get in and out of. Or being easy to park, especially if you feel like opening the doors. And she definitely ain’t built for the ice and snow (as the snowplow guy warned me vigorously and earnestly this past winter when he saw her in the garage), and actually, with the wrong tires on her, I’d hate to drive her through a big puddle (even though she did brilliantly last summer carrying Edward and I safely home from New Hampshire through a thunderstorm so bad there was literally nowhere to pull off to the shoulder of I-90 through New York, because everybody else had already pulled over). And yeah, the driver’s side window keeps having that annoying problem with raising.

Make no mistake, though, she’s mine and I adore her. Man, did I pitch a colossal, epic, Latina-style temper tantrum in Spanish at the car wash guys who chipped her paint last year when I was getting her cleaned up for her trailer ride to her new home. Yep, I know where every scratch and ding she’s gotten is, and how they all happened. I know there are plenty of folks who think I’m silly about this — like the people who’ve tried to talk me into selling her over the years (seriously — like when we were buying Chad’s truck, and the guy, thinking he might make another sale, asked me what I was driving, and I told him, and he ended up trying to convince me to take $5500 less in trade for her than I’d paid new 6 years before — as if!) She’s good to me, my creampuff! She’s a loyal sweetheart. You can’t have her.

So there I was at the post office, Edward in the passenger seat, all the needles flat, the starter clearly working fine, can’t roll the windows up and down, everything that can be opened electrically open, miserable, her clock flashing 12:00 and the odometer not reading (even though I know full well it says 19,793). Oh, hell no. I turned off everything powered, and tried again, to no avail. “Oh no, poor Mommy Car!” Edward said. I gave him a warning look (you know, don’t talk bad about her, she’ll be fine! Watch your words, whippersnapper!) and got out to check connections on the battery.

“Do you need a jump?” asked the lady parked beside me, shutting off her car and stepping out.

“Dunno,” I said. “Looks that way.” I looked for my AAA card, and remembered I’d forgotten to send back that RENEW NOW thing a couple of months ago. Aw, crap. The kind lady then insisted on calling AAA on her card, and waiting. I couldn’t believe it, and thanked her profusely. “You would do the same for me,” she said, “and it’s hot, and you have a kid with you, don’t even think about it.”

No sooner had she gotten off the phone than a fellow in a battered pickup truck pulled up on the other side of me. “You need a jump?” he asked. “Yeah, but she’s just called AAA,” I replied. “Oh heck no,” he said, “You could be here waiting for hours!” But then he found his son had run off with his jumper cables. I’ve no idea where the ones I used to have in the back of my car are, either. The guy dashed into the post office, and emerged a minute later with a young woman who trotted over to her car and returned with cables. Everybody then proceeded to orchestrate the parking lot traffic such that the guy could pull his truck up in position to jump start Ginny, who started right up. “It’s probably just your battery,” said the pickup truck guy, “but you’ll want to get that checked out to make sure it’s not the alternator. You live close? You got everything you need to get home and whatnot?” I assured everyone that I did, and everything was allright, and thanked them all profusely, thinking again how much I like my small Midwestern town, where multiple strangers of obviously varying racial and economic backgrounds, ages, careers and so on, wouldn’t dream of not springing into action to help out a mom with a kid and car trouble on a miserable hot day.

The same thing proved out at the GM dealership not a mile away, as I decided — it being almost 5pm by this time — that if I just headed home, I’d have the same problem, and be down a dead end road a few miles out of town, so the smart thing to do would be to see if I couldn’t just manage to get the problem solved forthwith. I pulled into the service area, hopped out (leaving the car running and Edward watching it as I stood a few yards away) and explained my problem and that, with my better half out of town overnight, we’d no other transportation for now and so on. “We’ll take care of you,” they said, and some 90 minutes and a new battery later, all was well.

I couldn’t help thinking how if this had happened in the parking lot at, say, Fry’s Electronics, I’d probably still be sitting in the parking lot today, unless somebody had called the cops on me for loitering, or something. It wouldn’t have been a virtually stress-free inconvenience causing nothing worse than missing the bead shop’s hours and a late dinner.

“Hey, Edward,” I said later, over that dinner, “Did you notice how lots of people went out of their way to help us out today?”

“Yeah!” he replied. “Why did they?”

“Well,” I told him, “we were lucky, for one thing. And we should be sure to remember to be grateful for it, and be the same kind of people ourselves.” I reminded him of the time he and I had given a lady with a flat tire a ride to her in-laws’ house, taking 30 or 40 minutes of our evening to do so, somewhat to his irritation at the time.

“Does that mean we’re all even with the karma of it now?” he asked.

“Well, some folks would definitely say it was karma that meant we got helped, when we’ve helped someone before, but I don’t think there’s any real making it even,” I said. “I think the way it works is that if you want there to be people in the world who’ll help a stranger, you have to be a person who’ll help a stranger. After all, if you wouldn’t do it, why should anybody else?”

He nodded, thinking about that. “Makes sense,” he said. That’s the thing I’m happiest about with this whole story — that it makes sense to him in that way, that it’s good for a person to be helpful and kind without a clear motive other than kindness and doing right, because the world needs people who are kind and generous and helpful and not looking to get something out of it. I’m glad of an object lesson that shows him one gets out of the world what one puts into it.

I’m also glad that, instead of having a dye day today as I had planned, I decided to sit down, have one more cup of coffee, and write this up! Why? Because shortly after I sat down, it began to thunder and rain, and close to an inch has fallen while I’ve been writing this. With lightning getting closer, I think I’m going to shut off unneeded electronics and go sit and spin a while instead.

And hey — Ginny’s battery could have given up the ghost in this downpour instead of last night. We’ve just got all kinds of great luck, and I’m thankful for all of it.

Triangle Progress

In-progress shots of lace are always so disappointing. But I’m sure enough of you are lace knitters to know that, and thus be able to do a little light imagining…

The Triangle (will somebody name this for me? I am no good at naming things, I fear) has grown to the point of being about 30 inches, unblocked, across the top.

I’m not sure if I have enough beads to complete this as I desire. I’ve also reached the conclusion that these beads are not of particularly high quality, and this means I’ve reached that point in a project where the first real pangs of remorse set in: this was a time-consuming yarn, it’s time-consuming knitting, and I’m putting $3 worth of cheap glass beads on it? What was I thinking? Could I not perhaps have shelled out, oh, $5? What if, when I get this sucker wet to block it, the beads turn into crap?

But I’m committed.

Oh, for a better view of the beads, look here for the mega-fullsize version, Flickr style.

Of course, that’s them in the full sun… and they’re sorta iridescent. So they almost look better here:

In other news, I’m less than 20% done, it would seem; the remaining ball of yarn weighs 3.25 ounces, and the skein weighed 4 ounces. But because of how it’s built up, I do not anticipate that this means the finished shawl will be 12 feet across. I’m guessing more like 6 feet.

This weighing, too, creates project angst and remorse. What was I thinking? If I work on this straight through in all my evening time till August, I’ll have… a massive thing. Maybe my original plan is flawed. Perhaps I should change it (No, Abby, continue with the plan, you know you always do this, continue with the plan!) Maybe I should put it aside for a while (You can’t do that, it’s on your 60″ 2.5mm circular needle and you are NOT to leave that stuck in a UFO!)

Nope. Nope, it’s time to summon up the project faith. It is a good plan, and a good project, and it will work out wonderfully. Keep going.

Oh, the random! But there is fiber content, I promise.

Saturday morning dawned, and with the boy at his grandparents’ house we were waking up slowly. Chad made some smart-aleck remark, and I retorted, paraphrasing the episode of “Deadwood” we’d watched the previous night: “I no more need your witticisms than I do a balloonist!”

I looked out the bedroom window and there, drifting just above the trees bordering the neighbours’ horse pasture, was a big red hot air balloon. “Hey Chad,” says I, “There’s a balloon out here, really close!”

“What was that about a balloonist?” he quipped. I laughed. “Can you see how many people are in it?” he asked.

“Two, maybe three?” I guessed. Heading downstairs with thoughts of going out for breakfast, we both watched out the windows as we went. Standing in the kitchen, we looked out and saw the balloon was now very close, with two guys in it. I peered out the sliding door to the deck, and one of ’em waved, from his vantage about 20 feet over the corner of our deck. I waved back, and opened the door.

“Can we land?” the guy asked.

“Sure!” I said, and he told me he’d land right over in the front yard. “Sounds cool!” I replied, looking for my shoes. Having found them seconds later, and grabbed my camera, I headed out the front door… and saw no balloon. Instead I saw this, down by the neighbours’ driveway.

Plainly a ballon chase vehicle, having found its way down our dead-end road, no less. I left the porch and rounding the corner of the house…

As I walked over, the two fellows in the balloon introduced themselves; one was an instructor and the other was a balloonist getting his certification for commercial balloon work. The instructor hopped out, and making it look like nothing at all,

walked the balloon over to the driveway as the chase truck backed its trailer up the driveway.

We chatted as they prepared to pack up (and the chase truck driver brought up the newspaper! Delivery by balloon crew!) They made it look like an absolutely trivial thing to do…

Ever the yarn dork, of course, I was intrigued by the process of dropping the deflating balloon without the fabric or lines tangling.

I hadn’t realized there was an opening at the top of the balloon as well as the bottom, and some sort of rigging lines inside as well as out.

They just laid the whole balloon down right there evenly along the driveway. Packing it up involved tipping over the basket, and then the chase truck crew fella brought out a device that looked like nothing so much as a giant Majacraft flyer hook (you know, an open-ended twist of metal tubing, like the yarn guide on ball winders, too). They passed the fabric through this smoothing things out, then started to cram the balloon into a giant stuffsack. Once this was done, they loaded the basket on a small wheeled trailer, put everything in the truck trailer, and thanked us for letting them use the yard and driveway for landing. The instructor gave me his card and then they were off; it might have all taken half an hour.

Unlike Amy’s recent experience, we didn’t get rides; but it would have been on the early side for me to think about anything like that anyway. I was just sorry that Edward missed it. However, you know, one of the things about this particular part of Ohio — and maybe it’s Ohio at large — is that it’s nutty for anything that goes up in the air. Seriously nutty.

From spring to fall, every single weekend, the air is filled with hot air balloons. I’ve been standing on the deck and been able to see 8 at a single time (though 3 or 4 is more common). Last summer, one landed across the road. And I think there are roughly a trillion small airports around here. There’s more than one hot air balloon festival. And I’m serious about it being aviation type stuff in general, of every type — there’s a small neighbourhood not a mile away as the crow flies which has a little airstrip of its own and folks have their small planes parked next to their driveways or in little hangars on their property.

In 2003, for the Centennial of Flight, well, that was a year when the aviation-type activity here was heavy. We were out visiting, and one day driving down the road, there were literally 8 dirigibles (blimps, airships, you know) visible in the sky — and it seemed like practically every “bigger” airport had an airship hanging out at it. That year, we all met the folks crewing the Fuji blimp, which was at a nearby airport. We were there keeping our distance looking at it, and someone walked up to Edward and said, “You guys can walk right up and touch it and stuff if you like. Wanna see inside?” He got to get in. And I can’t find those pictures!

My periodontist is up by the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, and one recent visit I was sitting in the chair watching big planes land — like I hadn’t seen since the year they landed some of those same unbelievably massive planes at Moffett Field a few years ago. As an aside, let me tell you, those things are BIG. I mean BIG. I will never forget driving along 101 as one of ’em came in for a landing and there it was in front of me, over me, blocking out the sun, looking far too massive to possibly be in the air — those things just defy the brain’s image of what it’s possible to put in the sky.

Let’s see, what other evidence of local aviation-madness can I find… ah! Going to do certain kinds of shopping requires driving past the home of the Wright “B” Flyer and nothing in the area lets you forget the Wright Brothers did their thing in Dayton. And occasionally, here in town, you’ll hear about Neil Armstrong, who recently moved closer to Cincinnati, but lived here for decades, leaving an almost disconcertingly unassuming mark on the place, in things like teeny tiny plaques that are all but hidden from sight in places he helped out at (like the Y where Edward goes to summer camp).

In fact, digressing a little bit, that whole attitude largely characterizes the local mindset — everybody’s just some dude who wants to be a regular schmoe, mow the yard, wave to the neighbours, be regulars at the same restaurants and businesses, raise kids, go to school plays, watch the fireworks from the back yard, and be generally friendly and personable but not intrusive in anyone else’s life. I swear the culture shock almost killed me (but in a good way), moving here from Silicon Valley.

Anyway, so the hot air balloon guys are just out doing what they do, which is no big deal or uncommon thing, and they’re very polite about the use of someone’s yard for landing, which is a routine enough matter that — I later heard from my mother-in-law — the standard, acknowledged convention is that people put a bedsheet in the yard to let balloonists know it’s totally cool to land. So, it wasn’t like it was a special occasion or anything; in fact I’m sure if I walk outside right now and look up, I’ll see hot air balloons. Just not one landing in my yard.

Oh, and before I move on to the actual fiber content for the day, I’d just like to state that in my opinion, the Transformers movie is the best summer blockbuster type movie in quite some time. Therefore I won’t say anything else about it, really, save that Edward totally numbed my arm clinging to it during incredible CG effects-laden fight sequences, when he wasn’t sitting with his mouth agape in glee or identifying which guys were which for me. And yes, it’s an incredibly good GM commercial, and that doesn’t detract from the summer-blockbuster-ness of it at all. Special effects galore, no more than 90 seconds without action sequences, exactly what you need in a summer blockbuster. Pure entertainment.

So anyway, yeah, the fiber content. It’s still too hot to spin, even with the air conditioning on (as it has been and will continue to be), so I’ve been working on that triangle again.

It’s now that big, or actually maybe 2 inches wider at the top part now, so 25 inches across the top unblocked. Shown here, I was moving it from the short 2.5mm circular needle to the long one, so this was a great chance to take a picture.

I decided that certain design elements in this shawl were simply going to end up being far too understated, and that disappointed me as I felt they were among the cleverer parts; the parts that I had to throw in to keep me on my toes so I’d finish the project (since, as I’ve explained before, if I get bored, I stop knitting). Soooo….


Yeah, beads. Iridescent beads which I decided I needed to sort by colour. Talk about an exercise in … uh… trying to go blind perhaps.

Anyway, the shawl is top-down from the top center out, around a corner, so that the yarn will stripe in an interesting way. Building on that are diamonds, at a 45% angle to the stripes. Moving out from there, diamond-shaped blocks of 5 diamonds on a side are bordered with lines of leaves, which will be progressing in diamond shapes. This was the design element that I felt was too understated. So, now it’s being punched up with the centers of the leaves being beaded, so that when the shawl is all said and done, there’ll be lines of beads at a 90% angle to the stripes, along the centerline of some of the diamonds, progressing in a diamond-shaped pattern throughout the shawl. Lastly, a beaded edge is planned for the legs of the triangle (not the base, at the neck side).

Wow, does that ever make no sense to describe! You’ll just have to keep watching as this progresses. And it promises to be large — remember, there’s 1100 yards of this yarn, and my plan is to go till I’m done. I’d say that right now I’m probably through the first 20% of the skein. Maybe. Honestly I’ve no idea; I would have to weigh the skein or something, and I can’t be bothered!

Friday Morning, huzzah!

Friday morning, and Thursday did result in almost all the batt club boxes making it out the door. The remaining 4 go today, whew!

Yesterday also brought me this:

Thank you, Amy! As it happens, I was just thinking, “man, I need a little bag to put some of these things on my end table into, it’s a disaster area.” But more important…

…she nailed me with these batts. Again! These are BFL, mohair, silk, and alpaca, with the mohair and alpaca being from farms in Maine. I love love love this colour, too.

While I was snapping pictures, I threw this in the White Reflective Box Thingy With Lights Pointing At It (that’s the technical term).

That’s the plied, skeined Hummingbird yarn from a few posts back, when it was shown on the bobbin.

I had big plans of spinning those Spunky batts right up, but by the time I got downstairs to the slothing chamber and seated in my La-Z-Boy with a fresh bobbin on the Suzie Pro, I realized it was just too hot and muggy for me to feel like spinning anything. So instead, I gave in to startitis!

…what? Okay, it’s this:

which is that merino/tencel skein from yesterday, and some US 2 Bryspun bendy needles, and a bit of random started lace.

By the end of the evening it was this:

and soon, it’ll move to circulars.

Oh, why is this so early, you might ask? I was awakened.

Good morning!

Can’t talk, nose to grindstone!

Well, okay, nose to drum, I guess. Enlarging the Batt Club membership a little means that instead of having a pile of boxes to take to the post office this morning, that pile will be heading out this afternoon, except for a few of you, whose packages I managed to get out the door Tuesday afternoon, with my son’s help.

You’ll have to let me know if you can tell your box was packed by a 9-year-old eager to earn a new video game.

In the madness of it all, I received a great big box from my Knittyboard spinning secret pal, who revealed herself to be LICraftGal! She really outdid herself, just look:

I almost don’t even know where to start! Wonderful buttons and clasps, beautiful dyed mohair locks, fun glittery stuff, a huge pile of sari silk (which I have actually never had any of in this form!), a wonderful-smelling vanilla candle, mandarin-lime hand lotion (I never, ever have enough hand creams and whatnot), a ball of really beautiful Navajo Churro roving from Long Island, (from the lady who taught her to spin), a postcard of Montauk Point lighthouse, and oh, I’m sure I’m forgetting more… and absolutely jawdropping pile of loot, and with a Long Island theme through it, too. And it touched me quite a bit — a lot of things Long Island make me a bit emotional, as my father grew up there and he’d always tell me stories about his childhood there, in which beaches and lighthouses and the seashore figured prominently, and I’ll always remember just managing to get him to the hospice on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound, where he breathed his last. My dad used to say Long Island was a microcosm that ran the gamut of practically everything about the United States, but most people don’t realize it.

So, I scored an amazing pile of swag that’s going to keep me quite entertained, and that makes me sentimental besides! LICraftgal is clearly a secret swap genius. Anybody doing a secret swap should totally hope to be spoiled by such a swapper!

Being chained to Cardzilla, as Sammi put it, and with the excitement of a holiday, it seems I’ve gotten very little done (because after all, those boxes just keep making their way out the door, so they aren’t here, so it looks like nothing has happened). But I have actually managed to get some knitting done (and a huge pile of laundry, I’ll have you know, and I even tidied my spin-me pile and put most of my bobbins in one place), and I did spin this…

Well, two bobbins of that, actually. Each one was an evening of somewhat leisurely laceweight. It’s Chasing Rainbows merino/tencel, which is one of those things I treat myself to when I’m looking to give myself a “someone else’s fiber” gift. So I spun and spun on that (working on keeping the colour changes in order, which can slow me down a bit what with “paying attention”), and then I plied it.

And then I plied it some more.

Then it took even longer to fill the bobbin up, but eventually I did! Huzzah! So, I skeined it (with poor broken Mr. Skeiny, presently held together with glue, wire and silk after the accident he had moving here from California), lauded myself on 1100 yards and started thinking what to make with it, threw it in a hot soapy soak for 20-30 minutes, rinsed it out cold, thwacked it around, skeined it again while it was damp, hung it to dry unweighted, and lo, this morning now that everything’s dry, we have…

Mmmmm, tasty. Probably worth the mild ropeburn… er, yarnburn… that I got skeining it repeatedly and watching the tension on it.

But now, I have probably procrastinated with my coffee for as long as I can, and I have to get in the studio and start finishing the club stuff and getting it out the door. Realistically, too, it needs to be out the door before the new dye-me fibers are in (any minute now): a bump of tussah silk, a heap of cashmere/silk, more superwash/tencel, more merino/silk, another bump of merino, that sort of thing). Here’s hoping I’ve had enough coffee to get this day on the road!

“Wait, mom, you have a blog?”

“Wait,” my son said, “Mom, you have a blog? Like a real blog?”

“Of course I do, honey,” I told him, taking another sip of coffee, and wondering exactly what makes a blog a real blog.

“Well what is it about?” he asked.

“Oh, you know… yarn! What else would I write about all the time?” He pondered that soberly, nodding. After all, he was standing by my shoulder in my office, where in arm’s reach there are 3 skeins of finished handspun yarn totalling almost 2,000 yards, a small sample batt for a tweed I did for Helen, a dyed tussah top I decided to spin for myself, a toilet paper tube covered in random spindle-spun oddments, several notebooks recording yarn data, a handspun, handwoven plaque commemorating the opening of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco’s Avenida Sol location, a small all-but forgotten work in progress, 4 spindles, a half-empty box of business cards covered in photos of yarn and fiber, 2 lint rollers, several smallish tufts or twists of various kinds of commercial fiber, and a folder displaying paperwork proving Franquemont Fibers is a legal entity.

Well, and the odd Happy Meal toys, Lego constructs, and so forth that my son routinely brings me. I’d called him in to bemusedly show him a picture I had run across of someone’s Lego sheep farm (which of course, now I can’t find). Right now, there’s also a melting wizard’s hat made from Floam atop an empty jar of dry-roasted sunflower kernels, and a superball where one side’s Spongebob and the other side’s Patrick. And a big bottle of Advil, along with my coffee in the cup Chad gave me a while back, featuring (as Edward has noted) “the bad F-word.” Best coffee cup ever. The picture’s facing away from me, too, as a caution to others — if you can see this, careful: it means Abby’s still drinking her coffee.

As I continued to drink said coffee, I scrolled through a post or two in my blog. “Kaylee!” he laughed at one photo. He is, of course, totally inured to yarn. As he’s gotten bigger he’s realized that, yeah, everybody does not live in a world as filled with yarn as he does — but I’m not entirely sure it’s dawned on him that there are folks who really think it’s interesting enough to do things like read about in a blog, or that people other than his family have such books and magazines. I can’t fault him there — I’m not sure I really believed that until, oh, 3 or 4 years ago. So for him, the interesting thing about my blog is the very thing I sometimes feel a little awkward about — pictures of cats, talk about my family, and that sort of thing. You know, the fluff and the personal.

“Do you have any pictures of Inanna?” he asked me.

“Why yes,” I said, “I do.” We scrolled through the pictures together, reminiscing. She was a good cat, and we still miss her.

The online world has been a huge part of my life since long before my son was born. I was a BBS’er, then a sysop, then a UNIX sysadmin, a USENET news admin, a developer of web crap once the web came around and took over… I must have 16, 17 years worth of public online presence, all with my own name. And my son says, “Wait, mom, you have a blog?” Part of me reacts by thinking, “Kid, a blog is the least of your mother’s online life, even if it is the most recent,” and yeah, as long as I’ve been online, I’ve known that stuff is all out there, that someday my kid would find various kinds of online records of his mother’s existence, and most likely shrug ’em off and think, “Yeah, whatever.”

Thinking back even further, there’s my childhood’s worth of journals — which sadly I no longer have — and for reasons I can’t entirely put my finger on, I used to always view those as potentially open to the risk of someday being Wildly Public Information. A cringeworthy thought when you consider that includes my adolescent and teenage years, and those journals were last seen in the ownership of my ex-husband (one assumes, however, that they’re simply long gone). Or letters. It occurs to me that I’d have essentially no written record of all that time, given the loss of my journals, if it weren’t for Ayse having happened to save so many, and then sent them to me a couple of years ago.

Sort of like the lost journals, there was also a hard drive (2GB Seagate 15150, I remember it well) that contained a home directory filled with years of things I’d written, and one day it died — but we kept it around for ages and ages, thinking someday perhaps we’d send it to some hard-core data recovery joint, but then when I tried a few times, I used to keep getting “Uh, and it was… UNIX? Huh.” Those data too, then, written off.

So where am I going with this? Well, I don’t think I’ve drawn any real conclusions about what a real blog might be. I will, however, assert this is one. Whatever one is. But beyond that, you know, there’s just no telling about the permanence of any kind of data. You don’t know. Would I have guessed, 20 some odd years ago, that a letter I sat writing in a pissed-off teenage angst would outlast and outlive my carefully worded and considered journal entry in a nicely-bound, sturdy book? Never. And apart from the question of permanence, what ends up being of interest is also unpredictable. To my son, it’s that I wrote about the cat when she died. To me, well, I don’t even know — trying to decide is like trying to look objectively at my own life. An interesting exercise but arguably senseless navel-gazing and I might as well get up and do something, or just react viscerally.

One thing I do know for sure, though, is that I’ll be trying, all my life, to leave words behind me. Words words words! as someone once nicknamed me. I know I value words left behind for me, by folks who are gone now — including the me I used to be. So, I dunno, what’s a blog? Words words words. With pictures, and people can leave comments, and all sorts of random people can see it. Some you know, some you don’t. And when all is said and done, maybe it lasts and maybe it’s gone in a puff of splattering disk bearing. You never know.