Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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In the comments, Dianna said, "Your house must look like a fiberaholic's heaven! You are a temptress!"

Why thank you. :)

You should have seen my living room yesterday before I cleaned it. I should have taken photos. The big fiber basket by the wheel was overflowing (I could curl up in this basket), there was a pile of blue and purple merino I was spinning into laceweight, there was the bag of most of my dyed fiber from MDS&W, the bag of rambouillet and rambouillet/silk, the box of alpaca/llama that shipped with my wheel, the bag of cormo fleece, the corriedale fleece that I washed the other night spread out to dry, another pile of purples blue faced leicester drafted but not spun, and some random knitting projects on the sofa. Everywhere you looked, fiber. And that's not even my yarn room. I had to move a lot of it into the yarn room because, while Scott is very understanding and supportive, he is seriously conflicted. While he loves that I have all this fiber I love everywhere (seriously, he's happy for me because he'd love to have animals everywhere), the sight gives him the heebie jeebies. I'm trying to keep it down to the big basket and maybe a small pile of working fiber next to the wheel. It's so hard. Fiber migrates! It roams! It doesn't believe in borders or limitations. It begs to be admired. Petted. Imagined. Transformed.

*     *     *

At MDS&W, still glowing with the excitement of trying the 24" Cherry Schacht-Reeves, I called Scott and bubbled through an explanation of the experience and description of the wheel, how it would be my next wheel. Some day. Not now. Of course.

Says he, "Why don't you get it?"

Says I (in shock), "Uhhhhh, 'cuz it costs $1200. And I got 2 wheels in like 5 months."

Says he, "So?"

Says I (still in shock), "Weellll, what I really want is a drum carder. It might cost like $900."

Says he, "Oh."

Says I, "Wait, you're okay with me buying a third wheel now that costs $1200 but you're not okay with me getting a $900 drum carder?"

Says he, "The wheel looks cool."

See, it's the kind of wheel he thought I was getting when I said "I'm getting a wheel", and I've disappointed him. Twice. So buying a third wheel, as long as it's cool and traditional looking, fine and dandy. But a drum carder, not so cool and pretty darned expensive! Imagine that.

This is the same guy who has no problem paying $2500 for a huuuuge HDTV, but has almost insurmountable reservations about paying $13/month for TiVo.

Hmm. I'm beginning to wonder if I should have bought that wheel afterall.

Dye-O-Rama update

Woaaahhhh Nelly. As of this moment we are at 248 confirmed registrations! Does anyone else feel faint?

Less than 5 hours before registrations are closed (8pm EST) so, if you want in, be sure:

- you went and filled out the form

- you got your confirmation email and clicked the link

- your name shows up on the form page

- you also registered at the Dye-O-Rama group blog

If you have problems, email us right away at dyeoramaswap@gmail.com so we can get you squared away!

Yarn Harlot update

She was high-larious as usual. I had heard a portion of her talk at the Spa Knit and Spin fiber retreat in January, but stuff still cracked me up, and there was new stuff that cracked me up too. If you have the chance to go listen to her, go!

The shop was packed, standing room only, and though we were early and were standing up front, come book signing time Maria and I found ourself at the end of the line. A long, slow moving line. Hehe, I'll bet the line at Webs is even longer. Remember yesterday when I was hoping not to say something really stupid or embarassing, or gush too much, or not say anything? Well, I get up there and after showing her my Knitting Olympics spin-dye-knit-a-scarf and thanking her for the inspiration to try something so ambitious, I found myself smiling and standing there silently. While she signed. Silently.

"Oh, I'm standing here silently. And smiling. I said I was going to try not to gush. Or stand here silently."

She looks up.

"So. Yeah. I love your blog and you were the inspiration for starting mine. So thank you."

She smiles.

"I said I would try not to gush, you probably get that all the time --"

"Actually, I don't --"

"You don't?" Incredulous look. "Really?" How can she not get anyone gushing? I was standing there for half an hour before she arrived and witnessed gushing. I remembered the first time I met her a year ago and feeling lots of internal gushing going on. She didn't know this?

I start talking really fast. Really fast. There's still the line, you know. But she needs to know. "So I was at work today, and I was telling this IT guy, because I'm, well, I'm in IT too, and we're outside the building and I'm telling him I'm going to the Yarn Harlot's book signing, and he says, 'Yarn Harlot' and --"

"Yeah"

"Yeah. So I tell him how I met you a year ago at your first book signing and how I felt like I was 13 and meeting a rock star, even though I never gushed when I was 13 about any rock stars, and I told him it felt like [insert flapping hands and wild excited gestures], 'oh my god I'm meeting the Yarn Harlot oh my god!!!' You don't get that?"

She laughs. "No."

"People were doing it here before you arrived. 'I can't believe I'm going to meet her! I'm so excited!' See, they're all trying to be cool when you arrive so you don't see it, but before you get here they're all excited and gushing."

She's smiling. We're all entertained. I go on tell her how excited I was when I first met her. Flaping arms. Talking fast.

"Wow, you really got over your quietness."

I'm pretty jazzed up by now and smile and wave bye and try to move slowly so I don't fall over anything. How can she not know? People drive hours to see her. There were people from Connecticut and Maine there.

Every time I remember that moment, I chuckle. I was silent. I gushed. And to some people I may have been stupid or embarassing, but to me, I was sharing the excitement, giving her a glimpse of the excitement that goes on that she doesn't get to see. Being myself.

I'm excited that there's been so much interest! Some more information about the swap:

  • We will give plenty of notice about when the offical sign up will be. Just keep an eye on one of our blogs and we will give you a 36 & 24 hour notice.
  • You will need to register to be a part of the swap. Just leaving your comment in the previous post does not ensure that you will be in the swap. We will need all of your information and that will be your committment to join the swap.
  • Beginners will be welcome. We will have two official groups. One will be the WTF am I doing group and the other will be for people who feel pretty confident in their dyeing skillz.
  • You may use any dyes as long as they are permanent and lightfast.
  • We will do international swaps. We will specifically ask whether you mind having an international pal or not.
  • We have had a lot of interest already and we may have a 100 person limit for this first round. We will let you know about this.
  • Finally, please do not sign up for this swap if there is even the slightest chance that are going to flake-out on us. We recruited Noelle to help with the organization of this swap and the 4 of us will not be very nice DYE-O-RAMistras if you don’t follow through with your committment. Most of you have probably been a part of a swap before and know that nothing sucks more than having a pal who doesn’t do what they are supposed to. Ya know?

So stay tuned for more details!

In other news...

Gram fell this week and as a matter of course went to the hospital. Nothing "serious" and she's been moved to the rehab area, but unfortunately she's too weak to go back to her place until she's better, and she won't be getting better. Most likely she will move to a nursing home soon. So... I'm not feeling my usual self, and may be posting less often. I will keep up with Dye-O-Rama updates and will be spinning and knitting as usual, but most likely less chatty and less present.

June's post about funny Minnesota politeness got me thinking about Japanese politeness. I've never really lived in Japan but I've visited many times growing up and spent the majority of childhood Saturday mornings going to Japanese school (this probably explains my love of sleeping in on Saturdays and doing nothing). From what I understand, in Japan, it is common to refuse a gift at least 2 or 3 times before accepting, even if it is something you really really want. Or a ride. Or anything that puts someone out of their way for you. "No no, I couldn't possibly..." As a Japanese Canadian/American, I don't fit into Japanese culture. I'm direct enough that, though I've figured out when to do the head bobbing (I even do it on the phone), I will never be a true Japanese. I'm not direct enough that I feel comfortable in this culture, either. Stuck between worlds; it's typical for people like me who grew up with one foot in each.

I was reminded of a funny story about my brother. When he was 10 he visited Japan for 2 or 3 months, alone. He mostly stayed with my Dad's side, where they didn't understand English at all. My grandfather wanted to spoil him and took my brother shopping for toys, clothes, etc. Each time they came home empty-handed, my brother incredibly frustrated, my grandfather at a loss. It wasn't until towards the end of my brother's visit that my mom found out what was going on. When my grandfather asked my brother if he wanted this or that, my brother would say, "Yeah!" In Japanese this sounds like "iya" which means, roughly, "hell no!". Hehe, poor kid. All the toys he could have had.

*  *  *

Thanks for the compliments and feedback on Picovoli! I'll try Grumperina's suggestion of giving her a firm ironing to get the bottom edge to lay flat. Depending on how it looks then, I'll decide whether or not to add length.

I was hoping to show you the flu-influenced-dyeing I did this weekend -- not my best work, :D -- but working on taxes yesterday and an unexpected but much needed nap today got in the way. Instead, here's the tussah silk I had dyed before pre-drafted:

dyed Tussah silk, sunfires

I was struck by how the base honey color warmed all the reds, oranges and yellows, very different from how it looked on the white wools:

dyed Tussah silk, sunfires

I wasn't sure what to do with it: spin it straight? From the fold? The last time I tried silk did not go well at all, but that was on a spindle and before I learned the magic of pre-drafting. This time I went with regular spinning with enough twist for a 2-ply and it went pretty smoothly:

dyed Tussah silk singles, sunfires

That's about half an ounce. I was careful of my drafting hand and making sure it didn't hold onto the fibers very long so that I didn't get clumps of silk in my hand. This required a lighter (and less sweaty) hand. I was also careful to keep the to-be-spun lengths sufficiently unrolled in my lap and not let it fall to the floor: the silk sheds and wanted to stick to itself and instead of easily unrolling from the little nests.

I was called a spinner recently. Specifically, the word linking to my blog was "spinner", as in "this spinner". It was the first time that word was used as my sole description and it was startling. As a long time knitter and johnny-come-lately spinner, I've yet to see spinning as my main squeeze. Lately, though, it seems that's all I do - spin, and dye stuff to spin. If you look through my recent posts, it's spinning heavy. And actually, because I started blogging shortly after learning to spin, most of my posts have some kind of spinning content in them. While I know I love to spin, how it fits in my life is an unknown blank. Spinning and dyeing are new so every experience is a learning experience, fresh, new, exciting; I'm like a teenager at an all-you-can-eat buffet, trying to sample everything without worries of the waistline. In time whether I become a spinner-knitter-dyer, a knitter-spinner-dyer, or some other combination, will become clearer. And really, all that affects is switching the words around on my blog heading. And how much budget goes to fiber vs yarn. And whether my cards will list "web developer, knitter, actor" or "web developer, spinner, actor" ... or perhaps ... "web developer, fiber artist, actor". For now, I'll just say there'll be a lot more spinning and dyeing going on than knitting.

Ironically, I have knitting updates today! A finished and steamed Picovoli:

Picovoli

Photos of me wearing it will follow post-flu.

And I picked up The Red and The Black again. I tried simple ribbing but didn't like the effect, so I stuck to simple stockinette stitch. Check out the striping at the heel:

The Red and The Black - in progress

It's not April 1st, but we got snow anyway:

April snow

It came down hard from morning til mid-afternoon, and then melted away. It's been warm enough (thank goodness) that there was no accumulation on the roads, and actually, it was quite pretty and pristine. Still, I'm so tired of winter this year! Maybe I just haven't been getting out enough, going straight from work to home, and staying in much of the weekend as well. And before that I was home job hunting and didn't even go out to work! I am very ready for spring.

It's not just the weather that's got me down. One of the big things on my mind these days is Gram. Every week we go to see her she's doing a little bit worse. She used to take care of us each week, cook us meals, pick up groceries for us to take home (including things Scott didn't have the heart to admit he didn't like), give us pocket money. Now we take care of her; first it was bills and mail, now it's groceries, necessities, dinner, and of course, chocolate. Gotta bring the chocolate.

Last week I noticed her fingernails were really long. I sat on the floor and did my best to trim them with crappy clippers, the only ones I could find. I tried to get Gram to find another pair but she kept getting distracted and forgetting and I just had to chuckle to myself and remind her to look again. As I clipped she kept twitching so I was afraid I was hurting her. I figured those salon ladies chatted you up to distract you so I did my best to do the same. Later Scott told me she was falling asleep and every time I said something she woke up. He kept trying to signal to me but I was so focused on not clipping her finger that I didn't notice at all. In fact, I was sweating. Literally. I felt like I had tunnel vision. It was pretty stressful. For a moment I stepped outside the situation and thought it was a sweet picture, Gram in her easy chair, me on the floor giving her my best manicure. Hehe. Me sweating, Gram napping.

Last week Scott called me during the day, left a message; he sounded out of breath or upset, and told me to call him. All I could think was "something's happened to Gram" and I started to panic and think the worst. Turned out he had gone for a ride and was winded. Nothing special.

For the last few years, I've been waiting for that call about my grandmother. Every time my mom called, I waited for some indication that everything was fine before I could breathe easy. Any time it seemed like "something was up" I tensed and prepared for the worst. Once I got the call that my grandmother no longer recognized family, it was a sort of closure. I know "the call" will come some day and it won't be easy. It will probably take a couple of days for it to really register. Shock. She's so far away and not part of my every day life... not like Gram is.

Anyway, the fibery stuff is a good distraction.

Here's the leftovers dyepot from the other night:

leftovers dyepot

Mostly teals, which settled in the bottom of the dyepot. I predrafted tonight and there were bits that were a little felted, so I still need to work on that. It was definitely better than the last immersion dyed batch. The colors softened up in the predrafted bundles, too.

The sunfires were a little hard to photograph:

sunfire

Below, left to right: tussah silk, superwash, bluefaced leicester:

sunfire

I actually really like this photo of them. Vivid. Nice Project Spectrum shot, eh? And the darker half, really hard to photograph:

sunfire

sunfire

And continuing in the hard to photograph category, the stripey superwash:

stripey number

The colors are darker than shown. It's surprisingly silky and very soft. Should I ply it now to sample it?...

Found this the other day, cracked me up: How I learned to love

MJ's Norwegian Knits-Along is coming to a close and I was hoping to knit another something before it ended. I'm thinking a hat for me, red and black, similar to one she made. I studied the pattern and charted most of it out. Sadly, for all the fiber I just bought (all that stash selling was purposeful!), I don't have any extra for the kit. Or, I'd rather try to figure it out myself and save the funds for fiber. Yeah, something like that. For yarn, I have some Jaegar Matchmaker something or other in thin thin red and black, so my gauge will be probably be very different. There will probably be much frogging and adjusting.

My wheel should be here this week. I'm thinking sometime between Wed and Fri, but I don't want to get my hopes up too high. I don't have a tracking number, which is just as well because there's nothing I can do but wait. No website to check on the status multiple times in the day in vain hopes of an update. No constant reminders that it's almost here, almost here! Instead, it's best to just forget and think conservatively and be more than pleasantly surprised should it arrive earlier than expected.

Uh, feeling the adrenaline. Subject change.

Made much progress on Picovoli tonight while watching two subtitled foreign films (Bombay and Last Images of the Shipwreck, both excellent). Except for pauses for trying it on and figuring out where the waist decreases should happen, it's a pretty easy subtitled movie knit. I'm about to begin waist increases. Not long now!

You know how I was worried about the negative ease and, well, the whole fit thing? Fits like a glove. I'm kinda hoping it will stretch a bit so I don't feel so Kapow wearing it. I'm shy.

And Deep Rose Cabled Beauty (can we just call it DRCB?) is progressing much faster than I expected. A lot of this has to do with this weekend. I had a doctor's visit = half an hour waiting. Plus T (subway) travel time (can I tell you how much I don't miss the T?). And then a haircut appointment.

My hair is waaaay long. Was. You saw it when I modeled Creamsicle T, it completely obscured the neckline. I knew I had to hurry to get those photos because the hair had a date with the chopping block. It's been months since I got it cut, half a year at least. I had an awesome stylist do his magic shortly before the wedding; then I was traveling; then I was laid off and not about to hike into Boston to spend the bucks; and then I started a new job. All this time, it's been getting longer and longer (I know, that's what hair does), and driving me bonkers. When I throw my bag over my shoulder, my hair gets caught. When I roll over in bed, my hair gets caught. When I'm tussling with my hubby, my hair gets caught. No fun. With this doctor's appointment in Boston I figured it was the perfect opportunity to finally get it whacked.

I get there 15 minutes early, get comfortable and start knitting, trying not to watch the clock. Apparently I succeeded because half an hour later I'm wondering what the hell is going on. "Should be done soon." Fifteen minutes later, I left. I was pissed! The stylist (not the one who cut it before) didn't even acknowledge the wait, didn't come by to apologize or tell me she'd be done soon. Nada. After such a long wait I debated staying (when I had my coat on I was told she was almost done), but decided I couldn't condone the behavior. I had friends to meet, and while I wanted fabulous hair for the ballet performance we were going to see, it wasn't worth being late and fuming and feeling rushed.*

So yeah, 45 minutes of knitting there. And some lunchtime knitting. I must be close to the armpits now.

I did get my hair cut the next day while hanging out with a close friend that I miss dearly; we spent hours hanging out this weekend and had a blast. The guy who cut my hair was a little strange, a man of few words, french accent, a smoker, kinda reminded me of Andre the Giant as Fezzik in Princess Bride, only less friendly and not so big. The only wait I had was at the register: the older woman had no idea what she was doing, it took her 10 minutes to ring me up (no exaggeration).

Since then I've been swishing my hair from side to side, celebrating every time I put my bag over my shoulder.

Photos will resume tomorrow.

* There was an apology waiting on my work voice mail this morning, which was a nice gesture. She said she didn't realize the time and heartily apologized and offered a discount on my next visit. If she were my stylist I don't think I'd go back. Would you?

I've been tagged twice now, so here goes... :)

Four jobs I have had in my life
1. (Web) Developer
2. Webmaster (having "master" in your title is always cool)
3. At a copy shop, making copies (and didn't watch SNL so the jokes were lost on me)
4. Actor (yup, it was not much money but I did get paid)

Four movies I could watch over and over
1. Shawshank Redemption
2. The Princess Bride
3. ... I have a bad memory for things like this ...

Four places I have lived
1. Etobicoke, ON
2. Oxford, AL
3. Cary, NC
4. Cambridge, MA

Four TV shows I love to watch
1. Battlestar Galactica
2. Firefly (on DVD, hmph, can't believe it was cancelled before I heard of it)
3. Stargate SG1
4. The Closer

Four places I have been on vacation
1. Poznan, Poland (to perform at an international theatre festival!)
2. Tokyo, Osaka, Kochi (Japan)
3. Atlantic Canada -- New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia
4. Rome, Florence, Venice -- the standard :)

Four websites I visit daily
1. gmail.com
2. Newsgator.com (previously used bloglines.com)
3. google.com
4. knittyboard.com

Four of my favorite foods
1. Curry, especially Japanese and Indian
2. Salmon Sashimi or maki that includes salmon and avocado
3. Shabu shabu, especially when my mom makes it
4. Maklooba (my sister makes this and I always overeat)

Four places I would rather be right now
1. home spinning or sleeping
2. North Carolina with family
3. Atlantic Canada - PEI; New Brunswick hanging out with Heidi at London-Wul
4. Japan visiting my grandmother

Four peeps I have tagged
1. PumpkinMama
2. Cheryl
3. MJ
4. You!

One 2-oz skein of The Red and The Black is plied and it looks gorgeous. Love it. Love it! You know the whole dyeing plan? The one that didn't work as expected? It was my luck. Really. Because if it had gone as planned, I don't think it would look nearly as good.

You'll have to trust me on this, because I have an in progress shot:

The Red and The Black

an all spun up shot:

The Red and The Black

and a plied shot:

The Red and The Black - navajo plied

but no skeined yarn shot. I'll take that tomorrow. It's so cool. (FYI, I uploaded slightly larger photos so you can see more detail if you want.)

This was my first time navajo plying on the wheel, and while faster than the spindle by a longshot, it was more fiddly. The bobbin wound off more yarn than I could handle and then the yarn feeding from it would twist up and I'd have to stop the wheel to untwist. I think if I had a tensioned lazy kate that would take care of that problem. I found my rhythm, though, and it wasn't too bad. The skein is a little overtwisted, and while the final yarn is not at all rough, I lost some softness with so much twist. It does look sturdy, though, which is good because I intend to make socks.

Lady Luck

This morning's Knitters Breakfast was fun and overcrowded. They had JCA/Reynolds there this time with sample sweaters and some color cards. There were a couple of cute sweaters, but I can't see myself making any of them.

There was not nearly as much free yarn as last time (so I'm sorry if you went on my recommendation and was disappointed), and while they had some pattern booklets, they had no books. They did have some Malabrigo to raffle, and I chuckled because the caller didn't know how to pronounce it. How can you not know? You run what part of this store (and I'm assuming it has to do with the knitting area if you're at the Knitters Breakfast) and you don't know Malabrigo??

I mentioned I never win these things, raffles and the like. Just not lucky that way. Last Knitters Breakfast, there was so much stuff being given away, I thought I had a really good chance to win something. I mean, more than half the people there won something. Maybe even two thirds. Some people had their name called out twice! Anyway, as they're calling out numbers and I'm seeing this huge pile of stuff, I'm thinking, Nah, don't want that one, I hope I don't get it and waste my luck on that one. Ooo, that one, I want that one. Nah, not that one. Definitely not that one. So I'm sending my vibes to lady luck and hoping she hears me and gives me something I want. I got nothing.

Was I too picky? Too choosy? Not appreciative enough?

This time, they're hiding the pile of stuff behind the table so I don't know how much is left. But I'm taking a different approach to each item. I'm thinking, Hmm, well, I'm not crazy about that yarn but I'll take it. Sure, I'll take that, I'd be okay winning it. I could always trade it. Well, not much of a crocheter but okay, I could win that one too. Yes, yes, pick me. Call out my number! For anything!

See? Openness to chance. It is not for me to decide what I will win. I will not send any negative vibes to lady luck!

As usual, I didn't win anything. To be honest, I didn't expect to win anything. I hoped. One can always hope.

I did walk away with some yarn. Purchased. Half off Adrienne Vitadinni Celia, a 100% silk ribbon yarn, some in brown for a summer shell, and some in white to dye. It's all about the dyeing.

I wanted to explain the idea behind The Red and The Black (anyone read that in high school?).

Voila:

RandB-plan

Solid colored ends that bleed into lighter shades, separated by white. I thought that would be cool.

I figured each end was about 30% of the total, and would be at the full 4% concentration. The shady area I guesstimated another 10% at 4% (in other words, averaging out to about that amount of dye). So I measured 40% of the total weight at 4% strength for each color and added the dye to the very ends only. I figuring the dye would bleed into the middle areas. And I worked with 2 layers of fiber, 4 oz each.

So. What happened?

Well, I didn't add the vinegar to the dye or to the liquid already in there, so I had to either:

  • add the vinegar directly over the fiber, which is not great because of felting and because it won't migrate where it needs to go (will it?), or
  • add the vinegar to more water and pour along the edges

I opted for a combination of plans A and B. Which is to say, I started with A, then realized its limitation and switched to B. And while I was executing B (cut me some slack, I've been programming all day, I say executing), I realized it was not so great because as I added liquid to the ends, the dye started to migrate and dilute at the ends, which is so not where I wanted it diluted.

None of which mattered, ultimately, because the black was soooo strong. What I ended up with was more like this:

RandB-actual

Still interesting, but not the original vision.

Lessions I learned:

  • Add the vinegar before the dye, or with the dye.
  • Use less black. Black is Strong.
  • If I really want to control placement, maybe cold pouring and plastic wrapping is the way to go.
  • If I already have 60% at 4%, and I want to split the remaining 40% between shade and white, then having an additional 20% at 4% makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. How about 20% at 2%? 20% at 1.5% What is wrong with my math these days?? I was a frickin' math major in college!***

I've almost got some free bobbins to start spinning it, because I plied some Finn:

Dyed Finn

Man, I suck at plying. (To be fair, I haven't done much of it yet.) It's hard.

These were done from left to right, and by the last one, I had a pretty good rhythm down. I wanted to keep the twist really loose to keep the yarn soft. The middle one is considerably more overtwisted, while the first and last are almost balanced. I might be one of those that has an easier time spinning than plying.

The plan for spinning The Red and The Black is to for half to be navajo plied, and the other half as either a 2 or 3 ply with each spool spun in matching order so that the plies mostly match up with slight variations. We'll see if this plan works better than the dyeing plan did.

Aside

Man, it takes so long to get anything done! All the spinning, all the dyeing, all the knitting, it all takes time! The crazy thing is, I have the luxury of time now, my commute is nigh nil. I'm so impatient to learn all I need to learn to make things I want to make. I want to dye the undyed yarns I bought and make some cool sock yarns (what? didn't I mention the undyed yarns? hmm, I guess I didn't mention the box o' imitation Malabrigo, either, hunh? no? the dyes? syringes for my addiction? stop that, my dyeing addiction, hmph). I want to knit the yarn I spun into socks! I haven't even cast on my Socks That Rock, and my WIP pile is going nowhere. How long before I know enough to do what I want?

I was the same way with programming. I spent the better part of 3 years learning everything I needed to know to create data-driven web apps, and at every step realized I needed to learn something more: VB.NET, ASP.NET and ADO.NET led to OOP and SQL Server which led to SQL; and along the way there was CSS, XML, IA, BLL... lotsa acronyms, eh? I was so impatient to get to the point I could pull it all together to create cool web apps utilizing best practices. Which is where I am now. Pulling it all together and doing some really cool things. Well, cool to me. ;)

So when does that happen with the dyeing? How do I even figure out how to get where I want to go?

B-side

Hehe, I meant my aside to be an FYI, not a busting at the seams. So here's the FYI:

The Fabric Place is having their bi-annual Knitters Breakfast this Saturday at each of their locations. It's at 8 am and they give away a LOT of yarn. I mean. A. LOT. Of. YARN. My luck is such that I never win in drawings or games of chance, but I figure I'm pretty lucky in life, so I'll be happy with that. And try not to be too jealous of the bags of yarn leaving in other lucky hands. Ahem. It costs $5, which is applicable to any purchase. And it comes with breakfast, fruit and pastries and coffee and stuff, which is worth the price of admission. So if you're near one, go! And if you go the one in Framingham, come say hi to me!

*** I was a theoretical math major for 1 1/2 years before I switched to theatre arts. Oh the stories. Oh the horror. Which reminds me, Cat tagged me for a meme! I've never been tagged before. Thanks, Cat, it's coming up soon. :)

I have to say, I'm in awe at the power of the Harlot. I mean, 4000 Knitting Olympians should have tipped me off... thanks to all who stopped by and thanks for saying hi!

Is anyone else having post-Olympic-what-the-hell-now-itis?

Nah, me neither.

This morning I caught sundrops on the walls:

Dancing Lights

courtesy of this unassuming porcupine that once belonged to Gram:

Porcupine Light Splitter

It lasted barely long enough to attempt photographs and was gone.

This afternoon, driving home, I saw 20+ wild turkeys in someone's front yard. And smiled.

Night before last, as with any night I've been dyeing, my mind danced over images of the dyed fiber, imagining what it might look like, resisting the urge to get up and rinse it, dry it, admire it while it dried. Yesterday morning I took a few photos of it wet; this morning, dry. Remember how I was excited to spin up the Finn? Doubly so The Red and The Black.

I had plans, measured dyes, squirted. But, well, ran into an array of problems. By the time it was ready to cook it looked like this:

Dyed Romney

Double, double, toil and trouble...

Exhausted, cooling for the night:

Dyed Romney

Rinsed in the morning:

Dyed Romney

Here's where we run into more trouble. I had the bright idea of using a dryer mesh bag and spinning in the washer. I even tested with a towel first and prevented water dropping on my fiber. But, well, I have a front loader. Front loaders kinda start out really slow, and that means everything in the washer, even fiber that has been oh-so-carefully tended to prevent felting, goes a-tossing and a-tumbling over and over and over. It took too long for the realization to sink in. Felted. Not complete unusable ropes, but man, I had been so careful!

It's still purty:

Dyed Romney

Come on, don't you want to spin some?

Dyed Romney

Thanks for your words of commiseration on the Creamsicle T neckline. I'll figure something out.

I also got a chuckle out of your reactions to my Knitting Olympics project. To be honest, I am very apprehensive about dyeing the cashmere, knitted or spun or fluff. It seems like the kind of thing that shouldn't be taken so lightly. Spinning cashmere, on the other hand, I think of as "no time like the present". I don't want to hold onto it like some precious cargo waiting for the perfect project. I have yarn like that and it just sits, waiting, taking up space and adding to my guilt. What's the difference? Between being apprehensive dyeing it and having no problems spinning it, I mean? To me, it's the time put in spinning and knitting. I could have a perfectly good scarf that will be ruined by a craptastic dye job, y'know? Ahem, a perfectly good cashmere lace scarf. Ruined. If it's ill spun it's still usable. If it's spun and knit and usable and I ruin it, my shoulders will sag for a day or five.

Speaking of cashmere, here is the fiber:

Cashmere

Good blogger. [woof]

I took photos of the dye experiment, but I'll post about them tomorrow, I think. I'm too excited about some other photos that just came in:

Round 1: Scared witless Round 2: Getting ready to grab bar

Round 4: Wow! Catch 1

Trapeze School! A good example of pictures speaking louder than words. These are not even the best photos, you can see all the Trapeze School photos or go back and read the story. Thanks to Shuley for organizing a great event!

Step One: Clear space

Yarn Room Yarn Room

Step Two: Get tools, instructions and spiked drink ready

Yarn Room

Step Three: After carefully measuring to maximize space (only to realize you are limited by the floor trim), level your top track, mark your holes, tape up some paper to catch the mess, and drill

Yarn Room

Step 4: Hammer in the wall anchors

Yarn Room

Step 5: Screw top anchor in place and hang vertical thingies

Yarn Room

Step 6: Rinse and repeat for the right side

Step 7: Place brackets and snap in shelves

Yarn Room

Step 8: Jump up and down with excitement and give Scott hugs

Step 8a: Notice the spiked drink might need freshening up

Working on...

Step 9: Step back and admire the left side

Yarn Room

Step 10: Turn to admire the right side

Yarn Room

Construction is fun, but putting the yarn back in is the fun part! Next will be Part III - Packing the shelves.

This week I learned my last grandparent, Obaachan, mother of my mother, long time tough cookie, talented maker of kimonos and Western clothes, wrinkled face and petite of stature, curly grey hair, lover of plants and flowers, early riser and ever active, cleaning clothes almost by hand well into her eighties, wearer of dark and brown clothes, who could never use the shawl I knit for her in my 20's because it was mottanai - a shame to waste it on every day wear - Obaachan no longer recognizes her children, her grandchildren, her caregivers.

I had been hoping to go back to Japan while she still knew me. I wanted her to meet my husband, to see her face again and hear her stories. Last time I saw her, 4 years ago for her 90th birthday, she pulled me aside, conspiratorially repeated the same 5-7 stories in 20 minute loops, each story leading seamlessly to the next, and the last bringing her back to the first and beginning the next cycle. Paranoia, fear; but also, childhood memories, pride in completing Jogakko (girl's school, maybe the equivalent of middle school), occasionally working at her brother's bar and beating the customers at pool, learning to become a maker of kimonos, surviving the war.

When I visited, I wanted to pick her up and give her a bear hug, hear her laugh at how ridiculous I was yet see her enjoyment of physical affection, something she could never give through most of her life yet she craved in old age. She was strict, never said "I love you", was often brusque and practical; yet I knew she loved me, knew she cared. When I was 12 she took me to the eye doctor, paid for my first pair of glasses. She sewed me shorts, a summer kimono I wore to see tented fireflies in Tokyo. She took me to my other grandmother's funeral when I was 12, held my hand.

I remember sitting in the upstairs room, sitting on the tatami and folding laundry with her. I don't know why I bothered, why she wanted help; everything I folded she would pick up and refold. She liked things just so.

I remember her exasperation at my inability to wake early, my sleepyhead ways. She was always scolding me when I was a child, we were so very un-Japanese, loud English and laughing, sarcastic humor, unsocialized, oblivious. And when I was in my 20's, still sleeping in, still mostly oblivious but with several years of college Japanese helping me, I remember her exasperation melting to shoganai, what can you do? Half hearted scolding with an edge of laughter and amusement.

Inside my heart cries Obaaaachaaaaaan! She doesn't hear, doesn't see, doesn't recognize. Obaachan, I thought I didn't know you. I thought you were a mystery. I didn't know. All this time, all these memories. All this time, you have been a part of me. Obaachan. I love you.