I'm no supergenius, but....

...I think I just taught myself to Navajo ply:

It's way overplied (note the strangely twisty end of the skein below), and now that I consult an online tutorial I see that I am using my hands all wrong, but still, it plied up!

I tried this as a desperation move, as my rental wheel has only three bobbins, and I had to get yarn off of one of them so that I could continue making plied skeins. The bobbin in question had a single that, to put it politely, wasn't knitable as is, and wouldn't look good plied with anything else I have on hand. I don't have a ballwinder or a nostepinde, so plying with both ends of a center-pull ball was out. (Note to self: put Brian to work fashioning nostepindum out of Lincoln Logs). Someone told me recently that Navajo plying was sortof like crochet - you make a loop and keep pulling new loops in as you turn the wheel. That's what I did, in a fashion, and it sortof even worked!

So that's the good news. The bad news is on the way home from Bloomington I missed out on a fabulous fiber-related photo opportunity at Connor Prairie Living History Museum, because I left my camera in the car. There were sheep, spinning wheels, and drop spindles all over the place! There was a woman in period dress spinning flax, and another woman tending huge steaming dyepots, where handspun soaked in a cochineal dyebath. In the Loom House, a young volunteer showed me a rainbow of skeins dyed with onion skin, indigo, walnut, dandelion, osage, marigold, coreopsis, and cochineal. Oh, yeah, there was other stuff, but I wasn't really paying attention to the non-fiber-related exhibits.

I was so enthralled that it didn't even hit me until we were back in the car that I hadn't taken any photos. Oh well - sometimes when I am too focused on taking photos I forget to actually have the experience I am photodocumenting. Not this time, though.

I leave you now with further evidence that I am actively subverting the world's youth by introducing them to the fiber arts, one kid at a time. Here's my nephew Jake, now totally addicted to finger knitting:


Back home again in Indiana

Evan was sleepy on the way down:

The long snooze down I-69

Apparently I was, too. This is what happens when you think you have the sock pattern memorized. A prize goes to the first commenter to tell me what I did wrong here:

Botched gusset - a cautionary tale

But I got back on track, as you can see here:

The sock (and Brian) visit the Bloomington Farmer's Market.

And here:

The sock, inspired by the Harlot's travelling socks, takes in the Monroe County Courthouse.

A new use for tinker toys

Brian thought I needed a more colorful niddy-noddy, so he fashioned this for me out of tinker toys the other day. Observe that it is completely functional:

Tinker Toy niddy-noddy, easily made from materials found around the home


Bad blogger, no biscuit

I have been a wretched blogger lately - too much work, too much fun spinning (three plied skeins so far!) Now I am off to Bloomington, Indiana to visit my brother's family for Memorial Day weekend. Last time I was there I taught my nephews how to knit. That was a bit frustrating for them, but they really warmed up to finger knitting. Maybe I will teach them to drop spindle this time - hee hee!

I'm planning to knit in the car and visit Yarns Unlimited to try out some wheels.

When I put new batteries in my camera I will upload some photos from last Tuesday's Knit-In - great fun! Emily and Denise gave me some dishclothes to send off to Project Scrubbie, and Jennie has finished a bunch, too. Theirs are fancy, with stitch patterns. Mine are lame garter stitch squares. Ergh.

Update, 5/29 - finally, a photo!

Project Scrubbie dishcloths made by Denise and Emily.


Espresso for Kids

I am starting to wonder if I can make sweeping generalizations about entire cultures on the basis of what people google on to find my blog.

For example, someone in the UK got here when they went searching for "espresso for kids." By this I conclude that the entire juvenile population of the British Isles is far more sedate than kids in these parts. Warm milk for kids, perhaps, or maybe even distilled spirits. But espresso? I don't think so.

I think we are looking at a significant cultural divide here.

And don't even get me started again on "fat bitchers" (incidentally, also from the UK).


Introducing . . . Stella, the neighbor, admirer, lurker and now . . . guest blogger!

First, let me get the "obligatory knit comment" out of the way: I actually taught Lynne to knit (long, long ago). That same year, I knit a scarf. It was my first project in 10 years and my last to date.

So, Lynne is too embarrassed to mention this, but I am not. I have (literally) snatched her lap-top from her to let you know that not only is Lynne a knitter, blogger and mother, she is also a teacher. This July, you (or, better yet, some young charge of yours) can bask in her presence and learn from her majesty at the Greenhills School Summer Program. She will be teaching a course designed for middle and high school knitters called, "Knitting Adventurers."

I have adventurered with Lynne (as have you --at least through her prose), so we all know how skilled she is. Sign your kids up! Pass on the good news. You won't regret it!

Registration forms: http://www.greenhillsschool.org/summer/2005regform.pdf

Addendum from Lynne:

To set the record straight - "long, long ago" was about 18 months ago!

Everything else Stella says is true - I am majestic, adventurous, and skillful. And she did steal my laptop from me just now. We're at the cafe - she's supposed to be grading papers, and I'm supposed to be working. I got a row of my sock done while my laptop was hijacked so it's cool.

As long as your children are potty trained, I'd love to teach them to knit and use words like "niddy noddy" in complete sentences.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled nonsense.


The secret life of toddlers

In the morning I eavesdrop on the small boys via the baby monitor. They are two and four years old, so their conversations are mostly incoherent or downright silly. Not this morning, though. Today's dialogue is profound and slightly disturbing:

"I'm not Harry Potter; you're Harry Potter!"
"No, I'm not Harry Potter; you're Harry Potter!"
"You're Harry Potter; I'm Harry Houdini."
"You're not Harry Houdini; I'm Harry Houdini!"

I will be sorting this out all day. Who would I rather be? A magician or an escape artist? And how do my children even know about these people? Why are they arguing about it? Help me out here.


Fat Bitchers?

Whoever got to my blog by googling on "fat bitchers" - did you find what you were looking for? If not let me know and I will try to oblige. Shouldn't be too hard.

No knitting today. Maybe tomorrow if things are slow at the yarn store. Should I start new socks with Sock Landscape or Dancing? (Thanks, Kate!) Finish the overdue sweater for the baby that was born several months ago? Cast on for Geoffrey's graduation present sweater, even though he will probably lose it like he lost the hat and scarf I made him last fall? I am feeling ambivalent about my next project. Advise me. What do you want to see photos of next?

Yes, feeling ambivalent. And inexplicably weepy. We're watching Fiddler on the Roof, and I can only barely hold back the tears. The sad stuff hasn't even started happening yet. WTF?

People want to give me things today, though. That should cheer me up, right? Janice wants to send me a roving (note to self - look for the rest of that green cotton). Better yet, Emilie, a shepherdess/Bed & Breakfast hostess (where can I apply for that job?) wants to give me a stinky fleece. (OK, I asked for it.) Nothing gives me more joy than the thought of hours spent washing hay, crap, and sheep pee out of a muddy pile of stinking wool. I can hardly wait!


I've got happy feet

I'm dancing a celebratory jig in honor of my first pair of adult-sized, non-felted socks:

Happy Feet!

Pattern: Adult Basic Socks, Ann Norling #12
Yarn: Elann Sock it to Me! Harlequin, Blue Stonewash

I will be wearing these to work tomorrow, with Birkenstocks AND capri pants, to make sure people notice.

I'm also quite proud of my niddy noddy, fashioned from PVC pipe and t-connectors for less than $3.oo. It is not lovely, like Theresa's, but then we didn't all get to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool and bring back a haul of fibery treasures. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Behold the poor woman's niddy noddy in action. And it folds flat for easy storage!

5 pieces of PVC pipe and two t-connectors

I will be enhancing my niddy noddy soon by hacking the pegs a bit shorter and adding PVC end-caps. And maybe a Danish oil finish.

The yarn on that there niddy noddy is the first offspring of my spindle. Again, no comparisons with Theresa's spindling, please:

My first spindled skein - unintentionally Christmassy

I had more to blather on about, but I just saw this guy on the TV, getting six metal bolts implanting in his forehead for screwing in whiskers. I can't think straight or even type. It's time for bed.


The Mad Shitter strikes again

Well, it happened again. If you haven't been following my blog, you have been spared the adventures of a excrementally obsessive toddler. But not anymore. I thought that dressing the small person in onesies and overalls was an adequate prophylactic measure. Apparently not. What's next? Do straight jackets come in size 2T?

Next time, there will be photos. And that's a threat.

Not much knitting or spinning today - too many cribs and small people to bleach.


Spinning out of control

I haven't blogged in awhile, because something had to give. Remember when I was worried that my new job would get in the way of knitting? Well, knitting hasn't suffered much, and I've even taken up a new fibery pursuit - spinning. So blogging (as well as housework, sleeping, and parenting) have suffered a bit.

Let me bring you up to date.

Here's Kate at playgroup Thursday, helping me skein my first spindleful.

Kate multitasking

Kate and I headed out to Chelsea Saturday morning for the monthly Spinner's Flock meeting. We made several new friends, including Rebecca, official wheel wrangler of the learner's circle. Here she is brandishing a niddy-noddy to keep us in order:

We met this fuzzy little guy in the parking lot:

Barbara, a very patient and skillful spinner, got me started, and within a couple hours I plied my first bobbin:

Bright, eh?

And yet another opportunity to work the word niddy-noddy into the narative - Lisa helped me create a skein, using the niddy-noddy, of course.

Here's the end result:

My first skein of yarn!

I rented the wheel and brought it home. Here I am at home the same night, spinning away:

Here's a closeup of my third bobbin ever:

And a closeup of my first true homespun skein of yarn (the turquoise skein wasn't spun at home, now, was it):

Shall I knit it or frame it?

Yes, it is rustic and scratchy, but it made it all by myself. What a thrill, to make yarn!


All I want to do is spin

There's something I should be doing. I can't show you a picture of it, but it needs to be finished by Saturday. I'm not sure who's reading, so I must be oblique - it involves a very tiny and relatively new person who probably won't get very excited about it. It also involves sewing up. I think you get the picture.

I went to spinning class last night, and now all I want to do is spin. Could this possibly be more addictive than sock knitting?

What I want to do

I've got it so bad, I've already got a lead on a secondhand Ashford Traveler, and I am planning to look at it Friday. Erg - my husband reads my blog. Sorry honey.

OK, I lied. I also want to finish my second sock. I started it at the employee appreciation party yesterday.

I would be willing to do this, too.

I just can't find the motivation for that other project. You know the one I mean.


Do these stripes make my ankles look fat?

OK, so people with thick ankles should probably knit their fair isle socks side-to-side for a more slimming effect. Who cares if my ankles are, ahem, sturdy? I can hardly wait to knit the second one so I can wear these babies everywhere.

First sock!

After several false starts I went with the very simple and flexible Ann Norling sock pattern, with a traditional heel flap and gusset. It was a confidence builder and now I am mentailly prepared to tackle other types of socks. Well, once I make sock number two.

My friend Kate finished her first sock Saturday. Her ankles are better proportioned. Sigh.


Road trip

Be forewarned - I feel a long and rambling post coming on. At least there will be knitting content. Scroll straight to the bottom for the yarn porn.

Anne and I made our pilgrimage to Kalamazoo to see the Yarn Harlot. She was endearingly quirky, pee-in-the-pants funny, and she graciously allowed me to touch the edge of her shawl (silk!).

A happy harlot in Kzoo

While waiting in the loooong line to get my bookbookbook signed, I got hunted down by the likes of these self-avowed dorks:

Reciprocal blogging

That's Carma on the left in the Go Everywhere Cardigan from Stitch 'n Bitch. Erin made it for her, and finished it just the night before. Erin, on the right, is looking lovely in her Honeymoon Cami in soy silk.

These two bloggers in crime talked me into the trip and I am so glad I got the opportunity to meet them. I'll be driving through Erin's town on the way home from taking Geoffrey to college this fall, and we're planning to get together to knit. Erin, who's already gifted me with this treasure, presented me with a trio of lovely stitch markers:

Little worlds with forget-me-not

The round beads look like tiny planet earths, but I couldn't capture that in the photo.

Isn't she the world's most generous knit-blogger?

A touch of Stephanie's shawl miraculously cured me of the dread sock disease. I am now on my way. In fact, I rock. Behold:

Sock and verbena

But I am still determined to conquer the Pricilla Gibson-Roberts toe-up technique, maybe with something nice and chunky so I can see what I am doing. Perhaps with the little treasure, below, I picked up at Threadbear on the way to Kalamazoo.

Artyarns Supermerino and sand cherry

And yes, Threadbear was wonderful. I was a bit overwhelmed, since we only had a half an hour to browse. Aside from the above loveliness, I found a tricky little Lucy Neatby pattern for some striking mittens. The sample, done in black and jewel-toned Koigu KPPPM, looked like stained glass. Probably beyond my ability, but not after I am done with them, right?

And this is the real thrill of the week - I just got Rob's newsletter from Threadbear, and they made a sample of my Loopy Little Bag to hang up in the shop! I am tickled pink! I only wish I had seen it when I was there.


Espresso Explosion

Minimal knitting content today. I've been knitting and ripping out the same sock over and over (first toe up, then top down), and it is making me grumpy. Aside from a perfectly lovely evening at Ann Arbor Knit In Tuesday night, my attitude toward knitting has been pretty negative of late. Usually knitting makes me happy, but right now I have my knickers in a twist over socks. Ugh.

But I do have other talents. My career as a barista got off to an auspicious start this morning:

Espresso Explosion!

After a false start, I did manage to espress something that looked like coffee:

My Cups Runneth Over

No one warned me it wouldn't turn off automatically.

I also have a talent for making food out of garbage:

Stock Garbage - yum!

And to think that most people just throw that stuff away. I prefer to turn it into this:

Two gallons of glistening, greasy chicken stock

My secret pal knew better than to send me anything knitting related this week. Instead, she sent me this - my favorite flower:

Clematis Piilu

Actually she sent me a bare root clematis, but those aren't very photogenic, and this is what it will look like in a couple months.

I'm determined to have some sock to show you next time, along with a report of my adventures at Threadbear and at the Yarn Harlot event in Kalamazoo.


An embarrassment of riches

If you read my blog because my mildly depressed tone cheers you up, or because my hapless ineptitude makes you feel superior, stop reading now. This will be a happy post, one bound to make you feel like a loser in comparison. I am about to prove how wonderful I am. Furthermore, I am appreciated, even loved.

No, the doctor did not up my meds.

First, Erin sent me this because I left a comment on her blog - can you believe it?

Wool of the Andes from Knitpicks

It is a pretty yet manly color, and I have the pretty yet manly boys who will appreciate it when it is knit up. I am hoping to meet Erin and her blogging partner Carma on Friday in Kalamazoo, when the Yarn Harlot makes a much awaited appearance at the Athena bookstore. Anne and I are planning to stop at Threadbear on the way - woo-hoo!

Any other Ann Arbor knitters heading out to Kzoo? Leave me a comment & maybe we can meet for dinner before the event.

But there's even more wonderfulness! Jen left me a very sweet and complimentary comment about my Beginner's Fair Isle Baby Hat pattern, and sent me a photo of the one she made. This Maize-n-Blue version would be just the thing for a little Ann Arbor baby, no?

Jen made my baby hat!

But the love just keeps coming. Today I received this in the mail from my knitty coffeeshop secret pal:

Still life with Kureyon, coffee, glass, and seed packet

More good news - Saturday was my first day at the lovely Flying Sheep Yarns (only two blocks from my house, lucky me). It was perfect in every way. I worked with a high school student named Mouse who's been knitting since she was five, and knits all day at school. I spent the day straightening bins and inventorying bamboo needles. I'm gonna like it there.

And I started my new real job today, and didn't expose myself as a charlatan.

I am so full of sweetness and light I can hardly stand myself. Admit it. You wish you were me.
It finally fits!
another baby sweater...
Not trafficking in baby animals, really
Some days are like that
Restraining Order
American Beauty
weaving class
yarn fairies
Coveting the scarves of friends
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My Local Yarn Store
Crack for Knitters