Posts for : June 2015

Keepin’ On Keepin’ On 2

Lots of work going on here. At the end of last week, I had a bit of extra time which was divine. I did a little organizing and planning while taking frequent knitting breaks.


Everything changed, today. The final installment of a big editorial project arrived. In some ways I’m glad. Knowing it’s been out there about to appear in my inbox at any moment has been like waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s also a good thing in that I can work like a crazy woman this week and hopefully have only a regular workload starting next week—next week being the first week of the Tour de France and the super-amazing-big-fun-for-spinners Tour de Fleece. I’m a little excited.

In the meantime I’m taking hourly breaks to try to keep from getting computer neck. One of our hens is broody, so I check on her.


And our sweet Eudora is still getting medicine to help with her thin-shelled egg problem, so we take care of that.



Back at my desk, Lola provides moral support.


On a fun note, this came in the mail today:



Be well, my friends. I’ll check back in before the week is out. Hopefully, by Saturday I’ll be over the work hump and ready to share lots of Tour de Fleece pics and progress.

Happiness Is . . . 3

After a crazy busy work week, with more crazy business slated for tomorrow, today was a little piece of awesome. My favorite Saturday of the month—fiber guild! I can honestly say that one of the very best parts of trading Chicago for the mountains of NE Tennessee has been finding Limestone Creek Fiber Guild. These women are amazing.

I’m normally reluctant to share pictures and stories from fiber guild because it’s  an intimate, private feeling kind of thing, and I think everyone likes it that way. Today, we had all sorts of visitors, though, so I thought this might be a good chance to say a little bit about what goes on one wonderful Saturday a month.



Our host is someone who has maintained a seriously demanding career in business while simultaneously attending culinary school, starting a llama farm, and launching her own fiber business. She grew up in Charleston. She exudes everything beautiful, welcoming, and warm about the South. She has peacocks. She cooks things that stay in your head forever as the absolute best. Pound cake, coconut flan pie, shrimp etoufee, mushroom bisque . . . She makes it look easy. When she greets you at the door, you are the exact person she’s been waiting to see. You want to stay there and knit or spin and cuddle with the cats and pet the dogs and visit . . . forever.


Maisie on Couch

And the regulars at Fiber Guild are equally wonderful. One is in her eighties and was born in Limestone. She’s got more energy than I do. She still bales her own hay. She’s a nurse. She’s a gardener. She’s a cook. And she’s hilariously funny. Others have come to the area from the Northeast, the Pacific coast, Florida. They are scientists, technology geeks, academics, artists, authors. And the super amazing, most wonderful part of it all is that they knit, spin, crochet, or weave with an absolute passion. In some ways it’s like waking up surrounded by people from your home planet after you’ve spent a lifetime hanging out with aliens. 


Today, the guild was visited by a woman who has a plan to help people in Zimbabwe make spinning wheels from old bicycles. She’s doing graduate work at a nearby university, and this is a project she’s well on her way to realizing. The people she’s working with have fiber animals but no way to process the fiber. With spinning wheels they could turn the fiber into yarn. We got to see a prototype of her bicycle spinning wheel and actually try it out. She was looking for feedback from the guild’s experienced spinners, and I think she got a lot. At some point in the not-too-distant future, there will be some sort of crowdfunding going on, and I’ll be sure to post a link. Pretty cool, huh?

Bike Wheel 1


We also got to meet a couple who raise alpacas and have recently opened their own fiber mill. A number of guild members purchase fiber by the fleece, and several even have fiber animals themselves, so a mill willing to do custom work on a small scale is an exciting prospect.


They brought samples of their alpaca fiber for everyone to try out, and it was luscious. I can definitely see myself spinning more of it in the future.

Alpaca Fiber

My contribution to the pot luck this month was paleo brownies. They were just okay. Our host’s gluten free, dairy free chocolate cream pie, on the other hand, was delicious!


When we weren’t talking or eating or learning about cool new things, I spun and knit on this swatch of handspun.

Handspun Swatch

It was a very happy day. 

Art by Chiara Bautista 2

By Chiara Bautista

I can’t begin to say how much I love this.

The artist is Chiara Bautista. I’ve tried to find a way to contact her to ask for permission to post her artwork here, but I haven’t been able to locate an email address, mailing address, or anything else. There’s a Facebook page that features more of her incredible images. I wonder if she’s a knitter . . . If anyone knows how I can get in touch with this artist, please let me know.

Manna 2

How does this happen? I mean, thank goodness it happens eventually rather than not happening at all, but how can it be that there is some amazing thing or person or idea in the world that everyone has known about and loved and been amazed by since forever but of which you have remained 100% clueless? Not you you. Me you. You know what I mean. How can it be??? I’m torn between banging my head against the wall and screaming from the rooftops. Cast On!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve heard knitters mention something called “Cast On” for years, but I’m quite sure I’ve searched for it multiple times and never found anything. I assumed it was just one of those cool phenomena, like Twin Peaks or Yao Ming, that is on the scene for awhile, is appreciated by those lucky enough to have a clue, and then disappears into the “remember when’s” of nostalgia. Au contraire! Although the Cast On podcast by Brenda Dayne is not being recorded in its original format anymore, there are 135 episodes of amazingness available for download on iTunes as well as on the Cast On website. Thank you Ply magazine for the clue! 

Cast On

Here’s a line from Brenda Dayne’s (Mostly True) Bio

All that Brenda knows about life she learned from her knitting: that there’s no right or wrong way to do anything, only different approaches; that gauge is a suggestion, not a Commandment; that it’s supposed to be fun.  

See? And this lady doesn’t just talk the talk. Brenda Dayne is out there in her handknit socks walking the walk. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the treasure trove of wisdom and inspiration that is the Cast On podcast, but I can tell you that what I’ve heard so far has me seriously psyched. There is lots of knitting talk. She describes the handknit sweater she’s wearing in each episode (pattern, yarn, wearability, personal history), and tells knitting stories, many of which are very funny, some poignant, all interesting. She knows all kinds of cool knitters, and she knits like a fiend herself. She plays fun indie music from the Podsafe Music Network. And maybe best of all, she regularly reflects on what knitting is and how it can change your life. I’m talking manna for the knitter’s soul here, my friends. 

So I have a ton of stuff to do today, but at some point before my head hits the pillow, I’m looking forward to another dose of Brenda Dayne. I can hardly wait. 


Catching Up 1

So my dad is back home with a brand new bionic knee. The guy who came to set up the machine that will bend it back and forth for him, for eight hours a day for three weeks, said they deliver about 20 to 25 of the machines a day in our area to people who have just had a knee replacement. Yowza! That’s a whole lotta knees. It kind of boggles the mind. Virginia Woolf meets Henry Ford, I think. Something so deeply personal (we skin knees, pray on them, crawl on them, go weak in them, for goodness sake) turned out like car parts. Weird. Wonderful too. But weird.

So I’m not great at being out in public doing serious things all day for multiple days in a row. On Tuesday it led to this:


And there actually wasn’t as much knitting time this week as I’d imagined because by the time I squeezed work into the already strange days it was way late and almost time to do it all over again. I did manage to finish the first wheel of unspun Icelandic I’m using for the Pi Shawl, though. That felt like a milestone. 

Pi Shawl 1st Wheel

Daddy was able to come home from the hospital yesterday, which was a relief to all of us. After he got settled in, I took a break to go through the mail and unwind. Isn’t it funny how unwind and unravel mean both the same thing and completely different things? I suspect that by yesterday my husband could have made some observations about the similarities. Did I mention that I’m not great at doing official things out in the world for several days in a row?

But there’s a new issue of Ply out! And it’s on spinning for fine yarn, which is something I’ve been thinking about for this year’s Tour. I love Ply. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jacey Boggs.


And I got a book in the mail from my friend, M!! I have a feeling it’s going to be an intense read. I read the first page of it when we were in Birmingham for the wedding and liked it a lot. I’m in the middle of Mansfield Park right now, but I’ll start this one soon. The book club book for this month is The Secret Life of Bees which, unbelievably, I haven’t read. With work deadlines and wanting to spend extra time with my dad, though, it’s probably not going to happen right now.    


Today’s goals are to make some serious progress on work stuff, to wean myself off the ice cream I’ve been eating for every meal, and to be useful to my dad. My sweet P took him to physical therapy this morning, so I’d have time to play catch up. So I’m off to continue catching up. 

Augie has agreed to shoulder the burden of being the sleepiest kitty in the whole wide world all by himself.


Weekend Knitting 3

Diner knitting (that’s Urban Cowboy on the TV in the background):

Diner Knitting

Car knitting:

Car Knitting

Stump knitting:

Stump Knitting

Hospital knitting coming up . . .  My sweet dad is having knee replacement surgery tomorrow.

Be well, my knitters.

Oh, Nature . . . Why Must Thou Be So Slithery 2

It’s going to take a LOT of knitting to get past this evening’s adventure. My amygdala (reference this post) is now set to high alert for about the next five years. When I went to collect eggs just before dusk, I opened the hen house door to find not one but two (two?!!) snakes in the chickens’ nest box. Big, fat, really long snakes. My first thought when I opened the door was, “how did the water hose get in the chicken coop?” About one zillionth of a nanosecond later, I revised my assessment and freaked the hell out.

Now, in my own defense, I’d like to say that there have been a number of challenges since we’ve moved to the mountain, and I’ve risen to the occasion every single time. I’ve managed black widow spiders, gigantic hornets’ nests, the idea of a local bear, and quite a few other things. But the snakes (with an “s”! TWO snakes!) . . . let me just say that I can still feel them crawling up the back of my neck. It’s clear to me that back at the dawn of everything when the frog brain was in its heyday, my people were on very bad terms with the snakes because I am clearly hardwired to lose my mind when I see (two of!!) them.

So anyway . . . I think my husband felt the seismic jolt of my freak out from inside the house because somehow he was instantly there, and he managed the situation. Thank heavens. Here’s one of the snakes after it was ejected from the chicken coop. 


Now, I can see how you might be thinking, “That guy doesn’t look so bad. The face actually seems kind of sweet.” Do not be fooled by the sweet expression, my friends. That snake and its compatriot were out to kill us all. I am certain of it.

Moving on . . . What I had intended to tell you right away was that Eudora is doing much better! She’s back to being her normal curious, active chicken self. She’ll be on antibiotics for a few more days to hopefully stem any infection that could arise, but that’s it. Here she is looking for bugs with her sister:


I’m immensely relieved. She’s such an amazing chicken girl.

In other news I’m starting to get excited about this year’s Tour de Fleece. I’ve been testing out my wheels and thinking about what I want to accomplish. This is some of the Shetland Wool Top from Hello Yarn that I used to knit the pillow cover I blogged about a few weeks ago. I’m spinning it on my Louet Victoria.


When I got this fiber last year, the plan was to spin a sweater quantity of yarn and make a cardigan. As it turned out, though, my spinning wasn’t as consistent as I’d hoped, and there was no way I was going to get a regular gauge with the yarn. Once I realized that, I put the project aside. Having picked it back up over the last couple of days, I’m feeling like the result is fairly even, but who knows. It’s too late for the yarn to become anything sweater-like now because I’ve already turned part of it into a pillow cover. I’ll probably just enjoy spinning the rest for fun. 

That experience has got me thinking, though. I’m wondering if my goal for this year’s Tour should be to practice spinning a consistent worsted-spun yarn. Last year, I spent the Tour trying out a bunch of different things—different fibers, different spinning techniques, spindle spinning, wheel spinning, all kinds of variations . . . It was a lot of fun and definitely kept the three weeks of Tour spinning interesting. Lately, though, I’m feeling seriously anxious to knit something wearable with my handspun, and for that I’ve got to be able to produce a consistent yarn. I sat down with my Ladybug today with this in mind, and here’s what I came up with:


I’ve got several weeks to think about it, but I’m warming up to the idea of focusing on worsted spinning with consistency as my specific goal. I’d like to know that I can aim for a particular weight of worsted-spun yarn and produce it in quantity.

Next stop . . . Ravelry. Maybe seeing what everyone else’s plans are will give me some more ideas.


Plans 3

My husband always says that you plan plans—you don’t plan results. Today, as on many other days, he was proven right.  My schedule involved a set of papers that needed to be graded, an editorial project that needed work, and a couple of errands, in addition to all the regular things. It started off nicely. Porch grading, coffee, motivational knitting:

Morning Work

Happy mail:

Miss Babs 2

Say hello to Miss Babs Yowza! Whatta Skein! in the “Perfectly Wreckless” colorway. Is it gorgeous, or what? I blame the purchase on Cari. She’s behind of lot of my craziness. But more on that another time.

Miss Babs

I was planning to wrap up the day much as I did yesterday, with more sock knitting:

Toe Up Stripey One

And a pretty sunset: 


But our hen Eudora got sick. We’ve had chickens for just over a year, and they are one of the happiest things in my life. Chickens equal instant zen. Especially Eudora. Here she is as a baby, navigating the perch for the first time:

Baby Eudora

She’s named after Eudora Welty, one of my favorite authors, and from day one, she’s been the most outgoing, loving, interesting creature you’d ever want to meet. She’s not the head hen. Nor is she the least hen. She’s her own hen. And she’s wonderful.

Well, something happened today, and one of her eggs broke before she’d hatched it. About half of it was hatched, and the rest wasn’t. And she clearly didn’t feel well. I started calling vets, but no one would see a chicken. I looked online, and the predictions were all dire. In the end I extracted the rest of the broken egg myself, and thankfully, through a friend, was able to find a vet who would at least prescribe an antibiotic. Said antibiotic has been administered, and Eudora seems to be a little better than she did earlier.  Despite the never-to-be-broken, “no chickens in the house” rule, she’s asleep in the downstairs bathroom. Please send good thoughts. Here we are under the heat lamp a few hours after the “procedure.” 


The worst downpour of the year took place as we were trying to get from coop to house. Hence our bad hair.


Keep on bloggin’ in the free world . . . 1

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I made it through my crazy weekend of work and am happily back in the regular groove. I actually finished earlier than I’d expected on Sunday, so I had some time for weeding the garden, going for a walk (where I saw these beauties):


Making my first ever PIE with some of the last remaining blackberries from 2014 (It was SOOO amazingly good!):

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie 2

And doing a little sock knitting, cuddling, and napping with these guys:

Sunday Knitting

Yesterday, BOTH of my sock club shipments arrived, so I got to oooh and ahhhh over this lusciousness from Into the Whirled:

ITW June

And more fun stripes from String Theory Colorworks! The complementary heel/toe color gets me every time. So does the little stitch marker that always comes with each month’s yarn. See it there on the right?

STC June

The light was fading when I took these pics, but even with the shadows, the images without the camera flash are so much nicer than the ones I took with it.

I’ve rounded the heel on the first funky, pink stripey sock, so I should have some pictures of that to share tomorrow. I’m also making progress on the Pi Shawl although there won’t be much to see there for a looong time. As long as it’s on the needles, it’s just going to look like an increasingly big blob.

In the blog world, there was a very interesting post from Danny Gregory today. He’s the genius behind Everyday Matters, an online community of artists (of ALL skill levels) that developed around the first incarnation of Gregory’s blog.  Sadly, that original blog is no longer accessible. It was all the things I’ve talked about loving in a blog—idiosyncratic, personal, filled with glimpses of the way someone’s passion shows up in the details of everyday life. The “new and improved blog” has followed the path of so many wonderful things that succumb to the dictates of commerce. The entries became less and less personal, less real seeming, slicker, more like they wanted something from you. Today’s post reflects on all of this. It almost sounds like the funny, candid, un-retouched Danny Gregory from back in the day. Check it out if you have any interest in drawing, or in blogging, for that matter.