A Thing I Thought I’d Do a Lot of This Year

For Christmas last year, my mom gave me a loom. Actually, it was from both of my parents, but everyone knew my mom was the chief gift-giver in our family. In fact, giving gifts was something she was especially good at and took great pleasure in. As the grateful recipient of many of her gifts, I took great pleasure in her gift-giving ability, too!

A few years ago, my husband gave me a Schacht Cricket loom for Christmas. I still love that little loom (though it has seen precious little action), but I eventually wanted something bigger. Since I adore everything else I have by Schacht (two wheels, a lazy kate, and the little loom), I decided to go for a Schacht Flip (the 20″). My husband gave me a stand to go with it.

I absolutely love it, and I got to weaving on it, at my parents’ house, right away. If you’ve ever knit a scarf and then you decide to weave a scarf, it almost takes your breath away how fast it goes.

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Before I knew it, I had this squishy handspun scarf all done.

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As you can see, my selvages left something to be desired. But the scarf was really just for practice, and for the sheer enjoyment of weaving. The warp is my own handspun Hello Yarn Shetland in “Minerals,” and the weft is, I think, some white Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool worsted.

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I love the fringe, with that party of colors. I bought a fringe twister but didn’t actually start trying to twist the fringe until a few days ago (and I’m still not done). That’s how I do – make something and then drag my feet on the last little detail for … awhile.

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Maybe once I get the fringe all twisted, I’ll manage some better pictures.

At any rate, the process of making this scarf was so enjoyable that I couldn’t help but get started on another one immediately.

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Love me some pink and brown! For this scarf, I paired two different handspun yarns, both from fiber I got years ago from Funky Carolina. The warp is “Little Lady” on Shetland; the weft is “Scutterbotch” from batts. The Scutterbotch was one of my very first yarns (I think the third one I’d ever made, and my first from batts), and it is very much a beginner yarn. When I sampled it, it didn’t look great knit up, but it worked perfectly as weft; it’s nice and skinny and neutral and allows the colors of the warp to shine through (bonus: I still have a bunch left, for more weft).

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For this scarf, I tried hemstitching for the first time, and I really liked the effect. I did better on my selvages, too, though there’s still some unevenness here and there. I also haven’t twisted the fringe yet (of course). But who cares, I love it.

I made both of these scarves in January, marveling all the while at how fun it was and how fast, and thinking that I’d maybe weave a scarf each month. And one thing I espiecially wanted to do was to weave a shawl for my mom, for this Christmas. But none of that was to be. The year slid sideways, especially this second half, and since the end of January, I have woven precisely … nothing.

For awhile after my mom’s death, the loom just made me sad. Partly because it was her last Christmas gift to me, and partly because I never got to make her anything on it. But I’m trying hard to embrace the ongoing nature of the many gifts she gave me, and the loom is certainly a gift that, in the using of it, will keep being given to me, if I let it. And I’ve realized, too, that when I use it to make gifts, my mom’s giving is even further extended. She would like that.

So that’s what I’m doing now. And it feels really good, and really right.

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Warped

  
Got ‘er warped and the weaving has commenced. It feels really good after a hiatus of several months to be back at the loom. I would say more, but there’s weaving to be done! 

And Then My Head Exploded

Now that I’m splint-free, my mind is reeling with possibilities for making, and it turns out I want to make all the things at once.

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From left to right:

  1. Sunday Shawl (crochet)
  2. Handspun for weaving
  3. Undyed fiber from Spunky Eclectic (for my current spinning project, which I think I haven’t shown you yet)
  4. Handspun socks
  5. Cross-stitch I apparently can’t finish

I am so close to done on the shawl (one more row!) but I really need to focus on gifts right now, so here’s what I’m committing to today:

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Socks for my kiddo. Cast on last night and am almost done with the first sock (afterthought heel will happen later). The yarn turned out heavier than I meant it to, but I’ll take it – heavy worsted yarn makes for quick knitting.

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left: Hello Yarn (for warp), right: Southern Cross Fibre (for weft)

have to get my loom warped today. I’ve been planning this for two weeks, but I keep dragging my feet because warping takes so long. But I could’ve warped it ten times by now. Mark my words, internet, today is the day I’m getting it done!

Slow Stitching on a Simple Project

Is grief like a baby, in that once you hit the 3-month mark you stop counting time in weeks? I’m not sure if I can stop counting that way. Every Thursday marks another week without my mom, another week of getting further away from her death, further away from her life. Today it’s been 13 weeks. It has also been exactly three months. Am I ready to stop measuring time by weeks? I don’t know.

Lately, I’m also marking time with slow stitches, and not the knitting kind. With my broken hand keeping me from knitting, I have been pushed to find other outlets for my impulse to create. And so it is that I found myself digging out a little cross-stitch project I started five years ago (can that be right? I just checked, and it’s right.) I bought this pattern from sewingseed on etsy, on Black Friday five years ago. I promptly got to stitching, but only sporadically. I lost it for awhile, then found it again the following November. I made some more progress and then put away again, until a year ago, when I picked it back up right after Thanksgiving. I had gotten this far:

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I think I worked on it for another day or two at that point, and then put it back down again for a year. I guess when given a choice between cross-stitch and knitting, I always pick knitting.

But during this time without knitting, I’ve picked it up again, and I’ve made more progress:

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I just need to finish the snow and then I get to do the deer. The strange thing is, as easy as cross-stitch is, I have found the stitching lately to be very slow-going, especially those white stitches. I feel clumsy and slow and frustrated. It gives me lots of time to think and to breathe.

Despite some of the frustration involved, I’m going to keep going this time. The progress is painstaking, but, as is often the case with my crafting, it is reminding me that, if I just keep stitching, no matter how slowly, eventually something beautiful will emerge.

I am choosing to keep believing that this will be the case with grief, as well. It is painfully slow stitching, y’all, and I can’t see the whole design of it from this point. But I trust it will yield its gifts, its wisdom, and its beauty, if I persist.

In Memory of Tink

On Tuesday night, we began decorating our Christmas tree, and I hung up some of my most special, most prized ornaments:

little crocheted angel

little crocheted angel

I have ten of these incredibly intricate crocheted angels. They are so precious to me not just because they are handmade, but because they were made by someone very dear to me. Leila Claire “Tink” DuVall was a founding member of my first congregation (I am a church pastor) in rural southwest Georgia. It was a small church in a small town, and we were a close-knit little group. Tink lived down the street from our church building, in the nursing home, where she had lived for decades; she was physically-disabled and was in a wheelchair. Every Sunday, she would come down the road in her wheelchair for church.

Tink was a crocheter and a knitter, and I believe she did other handicrafts as well. As you can see, she excelled at the very tiny detail work. She gave these angels to me my last Christmas in Georgia, a week before I moved up here to Ann Arbor. I adore them, and look forward to hanging them on my tree each year. As I hung them up this past Tuesday night, I thought of Tink with gratitude and admiration. I always treasured these angels, but it was only once I learned how to knit and crochet that I truly understood the skill, the work, the time, and the patience involved in making these. There is no way I could ever make one of these angels, let alone ten, let alone the many I know she has made over the years and given away. It truly staggers me to consider.

Last night I got a phone call from Tink’s brother, another person very dear to me. He called to tell me that Tink died on Tuesday, killed when an ambulance that was transporting her to the hospital (due to illness) had a wreck. It is such a shock, and such a loss, and it has weighed on me all day. At the same time, I feel a sense of awe and connection, knowing that on the same day she died, I was thinking of her, touching gifts she had made with her own hands for me years ago, being touched by her life and by her generosity and by the many gifts she gave me and others. I am so grateful to have her legacy gracing our tree, and to have had her life touch mine.

things in progress :: Sunday afternoon

I haven’t had a huge amount of downtime this weekend, but here’s what I’m up to in my spare moments.

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I’ve started the colorwork portion of Tiny Dancer’s sweater.

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I’ve made a little headway on my end of a barter.

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I finished the tube for my Cut & Paste Socks – the cuff on the left is the one I cast on and the one on the right is the one I ended with (the Lotna’s Laces Shepherd Sport I dyed). I’ll be cutting off the first cuff and reknitting it with the new yarn.

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I’ve been reading a book Little Buddha asked me to read – one of his favorites. I’ve never read it before. It’s fantastic!!

What have you been up to in your quiet moments?

Every now and then things turn out just the way you want (dyeing :: Lorna’s Laces, from Blackberry to Plum)

It’s rare that I’m totally satisfied with how one of my projects turns out – my vision usually outruns my abilities. I fully expected that to be the case this time, too. Especially since I’d never tried dyeing before.

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Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, “Blackberry”

But I was determined to give it a go, because this just wasn’t the contrast I was looking for:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport with my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios BFL in Cut & Paste Socks

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport with my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios BFL in Cut & Paste Socks

I did some testing to see which dye I wanted to use to overdye. I had initially assumed I would go with the “Plum Dandy,” but I am so glad I did a test first, because it turned out that the Deep Maroon actually achieved the color I was looking for.

Having figured out which dye to use, I got to work. Bye-bye beautiful purple “Blackberry”:

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(I do love the original color, it just wasn’t what I wanted for this project)

Even though I had done some sampling, I still wasn’t prepared for how completely perfect the yarn was going to turn out for me.

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I mean, seriously. This is exactly what I wanted.

A deep, semi-solid, plummy purple. It practically glows.

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It provides a perfect contrast for my handspun.

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(the dark spots were actually already in the yarn before I overdyed)

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There are only two problems now.
1 – It seems a shame to use such a pretty yarn for contrast cuffs, heels, and toes for socks – it’s going to be covered up most of the time!
2 – I really do feel like I have possibly fallen down the rabbit hole of a new hobby….

 

for comparison: original on left overdye on right

for comparison:
original on left
overdye on right

Dyeing shenanigans (or, how to play a cruel trick on an innocent child)

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When the boys came home from school yesterday, Little Buddha thought the mixing bowl of purple goodness on the counter was cake icing. Even after he realized it was yarn, he still thought it looked good enough to eat – I think most yarn-lovers know that feeling, am I right? Boy, was he surprised at the vinegar taste!

(It was just soaking in vinegar and water. And I did tell him it was yarn. I truly didn’t expect him to actually taste it. But you didn’t expect me not to photo document the moment, did you?)

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Plum Dandy, Teddy Bear Brown, Deep Maroon. I’m going with the maroon.

Feeling sort of Breaking Bad over here

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So this is happening right now. I created three wee skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport for sampling, mixed my three dyes, and am now steaming the yarn. I only used a little dye mix for each color, but it still all looks really dark:

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(Plum Dandy, Teddy Bear Brown, Deep Maroon)

I poured a tiny amount onto each of my vinegar-soaked mini-skeins and put them into small jars for steaming. They’re on a wire rack inside a large canning pot that I’ve dedicated just for dyeing. As per the research I’ve done, all the equipment I’m using is only for dyeing, and I’m wearing gloves and a mask. It’s actually flipping me out a little bit to be working with chemicals, but it’s a chance to unleash for inner Jesse Pinkman, so there’s that.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

(Fashion Friday will be back next week – hey, maybe even on Monday, who knows)

Good Mail Day

So the dyes I ordered on Monday arrived today:

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Can you tell what colors those are? They look like black, green, and black to me. But they are actually “Plum Dandy,” “Deep Maroon,” and “Teddy Bear Brown.” (For those of you who know more about dyeing than I do – this is normal, right?)

I can’t wait to crack into them and overdye my Blackberry Lorna’s Laces!