(Broken hamate, wearing a splint 23.5 hours a day for the next four weeks. I’ll write more later.)
Sundays are so full and busy for me, in a good way, but it means they spin away from me so quickly. Today is spinning by especially fast. But I’m helped by the fact that I started the day by doing all the things that ground me, including some spinning.
I hope your Sunday is beautiful, and that you are able to make a little time for whatever fills you with joy.
At my first Rhinebeck, in 2010, my friend Ann turned me on to the wonders of handmade shearling slippers when she took me to the Shepherd’s Flock booth. I felt a little guilty buying slippers when I could easily knit my own, but I was also feeling self-indulgent – they were so gorgeous and soft and warm and cushy, and I had just broken my ankle (36 hours before flying to New York for the festival), and wanted to give myself a little extra TLC. It was the single best purchase I made at Rhinebeck that year, and one of the best purchases I made anywhere that whole year.
I had never had real shearling slippers before, and they were a real treat (and chances are, if you’ve only ever bought retail, you haven’t had 100% real shearling either). They are so cozy and soft and warm. They are unbelievably well-made. And the cuff can flip up for extra warmth around the ankle (though I always wear mine down because I love seeing that fluff). I got a pair with hard soles, because: a) I wanted to be able to wear them outside to take the trash out, etc., and b) I am very clumsy and have learned through experience that I will slip on our hardwood floors if I don’t wear real soles around the house.
I loved those slippers beyond what is reasonable. They lived on the floor next to my bedside so I could slip them on as soon as I got up in the morning, and I wore them every morning before work and every night after work and all day on Saturdays if I could. And then one day this summer, my cat peed in them.
It was a hard summer for all of us, and maybe it was for her, too, and I think she was actually trying to pee on a pillow which had fallen on top of the slippers. But still. They were kind of ruined. I was really sad and mad about it at first. But then I realized it would give me an excuse to go by the Shepherd’s Flock booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival this year. So for July, and August, and September, and half of October, I settled for wearing flipflops around the house. And each time I slipped on my flipflops, my anticipation of the day I would buy myself some new shearling slippers was heightened. And then, finally, that day arrived.
On Saturday morning last month, as soon as I had finished up at the Jennie the Potter booth, I made a beeline for the Shepherd’s Flock booth. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? Not just shearling slippers, but chocolate shearling slippers. Chocolate! Oh, I love a rich brown. If I understood correctly, each year, the couple offers one color other than the usual tan (which I believe on the website is called “tonka”). Last year was black, this year was chocolate. I couldn’t wait to snap a pair of these up. The owner helped me determine the right fit – turns out that all this time I’d been wearing a size larger than I should’ve (which I adjusted to by using inserts all these years).
I have never been so grateful that a cat peed on one of my possessions. Because as much as I loved my old slippers for these past five years, I love these new ones even more – the color, the fit, the fact that I am newly grateful after making do with flip-flops for all these months. And today is Saturday, which is a writing day for me, which means I expect to sit at my desk all day long in my slippers, which is fine by me.
[For the record, I have absolutely zero affiliation with Shepherd’s Flock and I am not getting anything from them or from anyone else for raving about their product. I just needed to gush about my slippers. Because in addition to the fact that they are deliciously comfortable, cozy, and cute, they are handmade and made in America and the couple who makes them are old school and have a wonderful sassy presence online, and I just love them.]
Also, I now keep my slippers on top of a tall chest instead of on the floor. But if you don’t have a pair of real shearling slippers and would like to arrange for your own slippers to meet with some sort of accident so that you can justify a new purchase, I have a couple of old cats to rent out.
1 – I made some yarn.
I like it! It’s not for me, though. It’s Jessica’s prize from the giveaway I held in … July. (Sorry for my delay, Jessica!)
She said she likes earthy, autumnal colors and I think this “Damp Earth,” with its ochre, tan, chocolate, vanilla, and bits of mossy green, fits the bill. It’s 180 yards of aran weight fluff that feels like kittens.
2 – I changed course on the hat I was making.
3 – I picked out my next spin:
I’m pretty excited about it.
How about you? What’s on your finery docket this Friday?
In your opinion, what is the best part of knitting? Is it the planning – considering patterns, comparing yarn options, making purchases, making a decision? Is it the start? Is it the soothing nature of picking up something you’ve been working on for awhile? Is it the renewed energy and commitment that come from picking up an old project out of hibernation? Is it the ability to fix almost any mistake you’ve made (unlike real life)? Is it the finish? The blocking? The wearing? The gifting?
I love them all. But today I think the best part might be casting on.
This will become a hat, and it’s long overdue for its recipient, but now I have cast on, and the new beginning has been begun. And it feels good.
I accidentally lied to you yesterday. I said that when I spun that Hello Yarn Polwarth/Silk “Slumber” that it was one of those cases when I knew exactly what I wanted the fiber to eventually become and then I spun it that way. Later yesterday, I reread my original notes (i.e., looked back at my blog posts from a year ago), and discovered that no, it was exactly the opposite of that. I spun the fiber the way I felt like spinning it, and then as soon as it came off the wheel, I was like, This has got to be a Pi Shawl! And then I became obsessed with knitting it. So yeah, sorry about the lying.
But THANK YOU for the nice comments here and elsewhere about my Pi Shawl. And to answer a question in the comments: I spun the yarn into light fingering-to-laceweightish singles. I ended up with close to 800 yards. Even so, that was only 4 ounces, and that meant a slightly smaller shawl than the shawls my friends brought to Rhinebeck. I am already plotting my next Pi Shawl, and am thinking towards something bigger.
In the meantime, I did another kind of lying yesterday – and that was lying all the way down to ply. That’s right, I am exactly that lazy. To wit:
(I made a gif, y’all! I’ve never done that before. I’m playing with the Live Photos on my new phone and used a new app to convert this one into a gif. I hope it comes through right).
That’s me, lying all the way down on the couch to watch Jon Oliver and ply some yarn (that’s my sweet puppy hanging out on the floor). I’ve certainly put my feet up before while plying with my new Hansen e-spinner, but I’ve never gone into a full on lie-down – I didn’t realize I was that lazy and/or tired. But apparently I am. And I’ll be honest, I actually did snooze a little while plying – crazy but true.
And when I woke up, I’d made this:
It’s still drying from its bath, but I’ll be back tomorrow with better shots and more details. I’m excited to think I might be really back to spinning at last.
This post has been far too long in the making, but at last, I shall show you this thing that I made that I love.
Last November, I spun up this yarn:
It’s 4 ounces Hello Yarn “Slumber” on Polwarth/Silk, spun up as low-twist singles. It was one of those cases where I was suddenly struck by an idea of what I wanted to knit with the fiber and so immediately spun it for that particular project. And then as soon as the yarn was dry, I cast on for a Pi Shawl:
Ravelry tells me I cast on almost exactly a year ago (November 7, 2014). It was such a delicious and entrancing knitting experience. Just round and round I went, throwing in the occasional yarnover row. It went with me everywhere and grew quickly.
I set it aside as needed to finish up holiday knits and such, and then picked it back up every time I could. Sometime mid-January I got to the end:
I did a little picot bind-off all the way around, and then still had a little bit left and threw in some extra picots in about four or five places.
And then the shawl sat around till April waiting to be photographed. And then those pictures sat around waiting to be blogged, until now. So without further ado, here they are. (Get ready for picture overload)
Despite all these action shots, how I usually wear it is like this:
I want to spin and knit more of these. I want to make bigger ones and maybe smaller ones. I want to make more that are just like this one (plain stockinette) and some that have more yarnover rows and some that have lace designs in them. It is one of the most soothing knits imaginable, and highly wearable, not to mention a fantastic pattern for showing off handspun. Perhaps it will take me less than a year to show you my next effort.
But knowing me, I wouldn’t bet on it.
That’s the name of a church hymn I’ve never sung. But I like the title of it, and it’s relevant to what I want to write about today, which has nothing to do with church hymns but with something else I do find sacred: Rhinebeck! (i.e., the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, in Rhinebeck, New York)
Months ago, I made the decision to attend (my first time in four years), but then when my mom died just a few weeks ahead of the festival, I couldn’t imagine going and enjoying myself. Or even knitting ever again, for that matter. But my husband pushed me to go, knowing that time there would be good for me. And it so was.
It was a kind of time-out-of-time for me. Surrounded by strong, creative, amazing women, curled up in our cozy house with knitting, coffee, snacks, and music, I discovered a renewed energy in myself, and a renewed connection with myself. In fact, the four days I spent there were the longest I’ve gone so far without breaking down into tears at some point. My heart was full of something like joy.
It’s hard to be down when surrounded by the delights of a fall weekend in New York with fabulous females (and their fabulous footwear).
The time at the festival itself was, of course, magical. But the best part was being with friends.
And then, of course, there were the handknits. Most of the people in our house had made a Pi Shawl within the last several months. We arranged them into a pie, because we like puns, and also pies, and also pi.
And then we all had to photodocument:
And while I spent the vast majority of my time with women, which I found very nurturing and healing and all things good, one of my favorite things I saw at Rhinebeck was this:
Another favorite part of the festival was the Breed Barn:
It was over far too soon, and then we had to say goodbye.
But the memories of my time there have sustained and fortified me. I feel like I spent the weekend being knit back together, at least a little bit, and it was good.
… touches the soul.
Having learned of my mother’s passing, Tara sent me the sweetest little care package, which included this sweetest little bird. It’s handspun and handknit and I adore it.
These have been hard days for me, but this wee birdy truly does cheer me. I hold it in my hands and feel that earthy, handspun yarn and feel the love and support in the stitches. There’s power in stitches, y’all!
Thank you so much, Tara.
(You can see the details of the project on her Ravelry page)