Posts for : July 2015

Getting Fleeced 2

Today, I have been spinning “in the grease”!

The course I’m taking has us begin by spinning raw, completely unprocessed fleece. That’s fleece that has come straight off the sheep. In addition to the lanolin that’s still in the wool, there are twigs and dirt and other bits of what is referred to as “VM,” or vegetable matter.

Lucky for me, the two friends I joined in taking the class both have lots of resources in the fiber world, and they each put together a package of different samples for me to try.

Raw Samples

I’m not sure I’ll have time to work through all the samples for the course module, so I picked one and just decided to see how it went. The one I chose was from a breed of sheep called the Tunis. It’s one of the oldest breeds indigenous to the United States. As it happens, they’re also super cute. I really want to meet one now. Anyhoo . . .

Tunis 1

The feel of the dense mass of raw wool is very different from that of processed fleece, and I wan’t quite sure how to get started with it. Soooo, I just pulled off a little bit and decided to see what happened.

Tunis 2


Tunis 4

Things went surprisingly well once I got used to manipulating the sticky tufts.

Tunis 3

Tunis 5

Here’s what I ended up with after about an hour.

Tunis 6

It was fun!! And interesting! By the time I was ready to stop, my hands were literally slick with lanolin. I love having put this piece of the puzzle in place. It’s the missing step between the animal and the processed fiber I’m used to spinning.

In other news, today included guacamole made with peppers from the garden.


And to show you what I meant about the Thin Edge of the Wedge shawl coming in handy, I took a picture of myself wearing it at last night’s Bee Keepers’ meeting. Handknits in action. Yes ma’am.

TEotW Action

Oh, and I almost forgot. I laid out this weekend’s newspaper to spin over since I figured there might be some debris involved. Look at the editorial page I opened to. I didn’t even notice it until I’d been fooling with the fiber for a few minutes and the word “fleeced” caught my eye. Ha!

Editorial Fleecing

Saturday 0

Now that I’m watching for chances to capture my handknits in action, I noticed I had my Thin Edge of the Wedge scarf in my bag today.

Scarf In Action

This scarf is perfect for the over air-conditioned restaurants and refrigerated grocery store aisles of summer, so it goes just about everywhere with me.

Here’s today’s official handknits-in-action shot:

O and P Socks

I love these socks and wear them all the time. The yarn is Barking Dog Yarns “Opposites Attract.” The different colors always make me smile. I started these and knit about half of the orange one during a particularly contentious city council meeting in Chicago. A new commercial development was going up on the block behind our house, and we showed up at the meeting along with the rest our neighbors to freak out voice some concerns. In the end we didn’t accomplish much, but I got half a sock, and now we live in Tennessee, so it’s all good.

In other news this week, our sweet Rasta had a cracked tooth pulled. We discovered it during his annual exam. This was on the way home afterwards when he was the sleepiest boy ever.

Sleepy Rasta

I also made banana bread:

Banana Bread

Which I had for lunch the day I made it, along with an apple and coffee, and knitting.


And I started a new book—The Painter by Peter Heller. Here’s how it starts:

I never imagined I would shoot a man. Or be a father. Or live so far from the sea.


I recorded Stage 20 of the Tour while I was at Fiber Guild today, and my plan for the evening is to watch the last mountain stage and try to make some progress on poor CeCe.

Happy weekend, everyone! Hope you get to do lots of knitting!

Walking The Walk 4

Barefoot Rooster posted this in January 2010.

Barefoot Rooster Jan 2010

I think I’ve probably mentioned before that every now and then I find a blog I like well enough that I go back and read it from the beginning. I did this with Jean Miles, and Franklin Habit, and Crochet with Raymond, and right now, I’m doing it with Barefoot Rooster.

There are all kinds of things I like about the Barefoot Rooster blog, but the main draw for me is seeing knitting and spinning integrated into someone’s life in a significant way. It makes me happy to see these things sustaining someone else like they sustain me. There’s a kind of camaraderie in it. And there are pictures. I love pictures.

In addition to the post above, a couple of nights ago, I came across a post where the Rooster is talking about selfies that show off her handknits. She says:

I feel sort of weird taking pictures of my outfits in the mirror, but these are the photos that I really like to see on other people’s blogs and on ravelry—how they actually wear the stuff they make. Sometimes seeing a handknit incorporated into someone else’s wardrobe convinces me that I could/would wear said handknit.

Hear, hear! I couldn’t agree more. I get the feeling weird part. But everybody loves pictures!

Then, yesterday, I was talking with my friend Spinfoolish and mentioned how much I love seeing the occasional pictures she posts on Facebook of her daily tea and knitting (her fabulous Mummy is British—tea is a thing). She seemed surprised and said something similar to what the Rooster had about feeling strange posting pictures.

Now, I must protest. I get it. But I protest! We seriously need to see more knitting in the world.

Even Science says so.*

How is it that in one day I came across the same sentiment from two knitters I deeply admire? I’ve decided to take it as a sign from the universe.

I already post a lot of knitting pics, and I intend to keep right on doing that. But I had another thought. What if, in the spirit of Barefoot Rooster, I were to post more pics of myself wearing my handknits? Aaaand what if I were to appeal to my knitting friends to send me pictures of themselves wearing their handknits? (If you’re reading this, you KNOW I’m talking to you. Are you excited? I’m excited!)

What I have in mind are not the professional looking shots where all the pieces are arranged for a particular effect. I like those too, but as knitters we’re at least adequately represented in that department. I want real people—you and me and our friends—walking the walk and wearing our handknits in the course of our real lives in our real spaces, carrying out what we all know and that Barefoot Rooster’s Midnight’s Children quote expresses so beautifully:

Reality can have metaphorical content; that does not make it any less real.

Knitting and wearing handknits are about much more than sticks and string and avoiding public nudity. We knitters know this, but we’re often shy about saying it and acting on it. I want to show handknits in action here on this blog as part of celebrating all the things that knitting is.

If you’re reading this, please consider it my personal appeal: send me pictures of yourself dressed for your daily routine in your handknits. I’ll post them. And we can all take heart from seeing knitting doing its literal and metaphorical thing to keep us warm.

Believe it or not, I can’t find a single candid photo of myself in something I’ve knit that doesn’t also show someone else (I try to be careful about that). I’m on a mission, though. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s the Shetland I’ve been spinning—soaked, dried, and ready to go!


*”Mirror neurons are one of the most important discoveries in the last decade of neuroscience. These are a variety of visuospatial neurons. . . . Essentially, mirror neurons respond to actions that we observe in others. The interesting part is that mirror neurons fire in the same way when we actually recreate that action ourselves.”  — “Mirror neurons: Enigma of the metaphysical modular brain,” by Sourya Acharya and Samarth Shukla, in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine

Handknits In The Garden 3

Pink Stripey Socks

I thought you might like to see the pink stripey socks in action. I love them! When I cast off Sunday morning, I couldn’t resist wearing them even though I was headed out to work in the garden. They were super comfy. I’ve already washed and dried them, and they look as good as new, ready for next time, which might just be today!

The garden surprise on Sunday was that one of my poppies bloomed! It’s a Florist Pepperbox. It’s the first poppy I’ve ever grown from seed. I hadn’t noticed that it was about to bloom, but the second I stepped outside Sunday morning, I saw it waving in the breeze among the marigolds. It was looking a little tentative when I took this picture, but as the day went on, it opened up and started to act like it belonged. 


And there was this guy. He stayed for quite awhile and kept me company while I weeded and poked around.


Here’s what I brought in from the vegetable garden.


This is the first year we’ve grown the foot-long beans. My aunt actually sent the seeds for these from her neighbor’s garden in Texas. With all the amazing things happening in the world today, one of the very most amazing to me is that a little brown seed from Texas could arrive in the mail, sit in my filing cabinet all winter, be sprouted and planted in the spring, and turn into these crazy, yummy long beans in my garden this summer. Nature will not be outdone.

Sunday night, I used zucchini and thyme from the garden to make “Creamy Zucchini, Walnut, and Thyme Soup.” It was pretty tasty, but this soda bread from the Eat Cake for Dinner blog was to die for. I seriously think I could eat it for every meal for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. 

Soda Bread

While I watched the Tour last night, I started plying the singles of the Hello Yarn Shetland I’ve been spinning. It’s a little barber poley, but I love it anyway. I think I’m going to end up with close to 400 yards, which will definitely be enough to make a nice shawl or cowl. I’m considering Xenia. I actually prefer Appia, but that design needs a less colorful yarn, I think.

Minerals 1

Minerals 2

Minerals 3

 Hopefully, I’ll finish up the plying today and be able to give the yarn a good soak tonight.


Knitting Is Good For You, Gives You Strength 0

I love the Tour de France. Loooooove the Tour de Fleece. But I couldn’t keep up the pace of my personal challenge this year. Well, I guess I could have, but doing so meant less time for reading and much less time for knitting.

Last year, it worked out. I managed to devote the number of minutes to spinning each day that the riders rode in miles. This year, I kept it up through Stage 10, but then summer things started happening, like visitors and gardening and going places. Getting in the set amount of spinning directly correlated with very little knitting. I just couldn’t take it anymore. A person has to knit. It’s like Guinness. 


So knitting. Here we are yesterday morning. I was knitting while waiting for P to get ready to go run errands. Lola was helping.

Pink Sock 1

I knitted in the car, and I knitted when we got home. And I even woke up in the night and knitted.

Pink Socks 2

Lola was dubious about this decision.

Pink Sock 3

But it was all good. I also made a start at using some of the zucchini bounty from our garden. We had Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread for dessert, and it was pretty tasty.

Lemon Zucchini Bread 2

I think we ate about a third of a 9 x 5 loaf!

Lemon Zucchini Bread 1

And here’s the really fun news. Remember the wedding afghan? Well, here it is in situ:

Wedding Afghan In Situ

I got this picture from my friend J. She knew it would make me smile, and she was right. It brings me huge happiness to see her babies enjoying the knit love.

Summer Days 2

We’ve been having some crazy weather over the last couple of days—nonstop rain and lots of wind and lightening. We lost power last night, so I got to knit by candlelight.

Lights Out

I actually have a headlamp for precisely this kind of situation, but the batteries were dead, so candles it was. I’ve done five reps of the lace repeat on CeCe so far. Eight more before it’s time to start the sleeves. I’m getting there slowly but surely. It’s a nice pattern to knit, so I’m not particularly anxious to be through with it.

My big news today is that I tried spinning cotton for the first time. This was the first mountain stage of this year’s Tour, so I thought I’d get into the spirit of things and challenge myself. 

Stage 10

Spinning this was entirely different from spinning wool. There’s no elasticity or crimp to cotton, so it wants to slide apart if you’re too slow about letting the twist run in. It was fun for a change of pace. I need to work on maintaining a nice, even singles, though. Today’s effort was a bit thick and thin.

I came across an interesting article online about a woman named Melanie Gall. She’s a singer and actor who has written a couple of musicals about  knitting during the World Wars. Both are one-woman shows and feature some of what are apparently thousands of songs written about or that at least include references to knitting during the period. In addition to the songs, the shows present interesting bits of knitting history. One thing mentioned in the article was the impact of the knitting craze on women’s clothing: 

Knitting even altered fashion: Dresses were designed with large pockets so women could always have their yarn and needles on them; and, for the first time ever, women carried tote bags instead of little clutch purses.

I like this. I remember speculating one time about what Queen Elizabeth, who was often pictured knitting during WW II, carried in the little purse she always has with her. Wouldn’t it be awesome if it were her latest work-in-progress?! 

On a completely unrelated note, look at this gorgeous flower. It’s growing outside the door to my yoga teacher’s studio. I snapped a picture so I could show you.


Thanks for stopping by. Be well!

Winter Is Coming 2

Tour Spinning

Five days since my last post. My apologies!

I think my Tour de Fleece spinning has something to do with the posting hiatus. It’s taken up a couple of hours almost every day. But I’m also feeling a little overwhelmed generally.

Some time ago, I mentioned that I was designing a new online course. The planning has been going on for it for over a year. Well, it started last week, so I was wrapped up in that. Plus, I’m starting the spinning course I talked about in my last post. And there’s the Game of Thrones watching marathon we’ve undertaken for some unknown reason. And there’s that thing that happens in the summer when last year starts to become next year. People have graduated, and they’re packing up, preparing to move on to a new chapter in their lives. Summer is full and fat and wonderful, but Fall is so much closer than it was in the Spring. And Winter is coming.

The antidote is knitting, of course. And walking and eating well and doing yoga and reading—all those things that pacify the rat. So today, in between the grading and spinning and course work and household chores, I plan to knit on CeCe, read some more of Mansfield Park, go for a walk, and eat from my garden.

Yesterday was errand day, but happily there was also some knitting and eating amidst the running around.

Knitting Lunch

This little girl lives at the chicken feed store. Getting to see her is the highlight of errand day.

Store Kitty

Le Grand Départ 4

Le Tour de France is underway, and I’ve been spinning along with the riders! The first day I picked a fun batt from my stash simply because I loved the color. It’s two ounces of Rambouillet/Bamboo/Angelina from Luthvarian Fiber Arts and came out to be about 44 yards of 3-ply.

Day1 13

For day two, I chose some bright blue Spunky Eclectic Polwarth that I had left over from last year. Lola and Augie both wanted to help with this since it involved the twirling sky thing.

Day2 3 crop

Yesterday, I spun two ounces of Huacaya Alpaca top on my Ladybug and a little bit of Cotswold on the spindle.

Day3 1

And so far today, I’ve plied the Alpaca. The squish factor is insane.

Day4 1

This is also le grand départ for another sort of journey in that I’ve started a spinning class. I jumped in on a whim because fun friends were doing it. Almost immediately after I registered, I started wondering if I was crazy. Work has been nuts. I’m involved in “Basics, Basics, Basics” through TKGA. It’s summer, so there is blackberry picking, gardening, hanging out with the chickens, going for walks . . . plus all the normal things.

I’ve spent some time with the first part of the course material today, though, and I think this is going to be very good thing. It brings spinning together with book making and an opportunity for some serious introspection. I hadn’t realized it until I began to get into the material a little, but taking stock of things could be exactly what I need right now.  

We moved to the mountain just over two years ago, and in some ways it feels like my whole life has been leading here. The world has been offering up some very important lessons, and it’s taken me nearly half a century to get a clue. A few things might actually, finally be sinking in, though. As I think more about all of this, I’m sure I’ll share some of it here, and I’ll definitely post more about the tangible parts of the course as it goes along. In the meantime, it’s back to Tuesday work. And the Tour!


Checking In 1

Happy Thursday, knitting people! I’m just popping in as promised to say a quick hello during my work marathon. There is definitely a light at the end of the editing tunnel, and the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday, so things are looking up.

My knitting is all at a stage that requires at least a minimal level of concentration, and I needed something mindless for work breaks today, so I pulled out the granny square blanket I’ve been crocheting forever. It was just the thing.

Breakfast Crochet

At some point I really need to spread out all the squares and take a picture.

On another note, I love hearing and reading about men who knit (actually about any knitter who goes against the stereotype), and I’ve come across a  couple of fun interviews with knitting men over the last couple of days—this one with Gregory Patrick and this one with Stephen West. There is definitely a Lost and Found Poncho in my future. 

In other fiber news . . . make sure you don’t miss this. The pictures alone are worth the price of admission.