At Last, a Spinning Day

•April 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It is a crap day outside. Certainly for the end of April; cold, wet, snowy, but not enough snow to call anything off or have some fun outside. Time to finish up as much of the basket of Churro as I can today.

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These giant pick/rake looking things are called 2-row “Viking” combs. They are used for combing locks of fleece so they are parallel, smooth and ready to be spun into a worsted yarn. Combs can also be giant torture devices that can be clamped on a table (usually called 5-row English combs). I prefer combing a long wool or a double-coated fleece like Churro to carding; I’ve been carding as much of the leftovers from combing as I can and using it for other things. Usually any trash like grass, sticks, or shorter fibers are either combed out or left behind when the fiber is pulled off the comb. Not all the time, but usually.

The rhythm is different than carding. In carding, it’s load, brush-brush-brush, roll to the edge and carefully lift off, and repeat. In combing, well, it’s been load, comb-comb-comb, thread through a button diz, and pull. Just hard enough to get the fluff to move the hell off the comb, but not so hard that it rips the newly made top in half. Then you roll it around your hand into something a bit more manageable than a big hunk of top, place next to wheel, and repeat. I should say that somebody who has more experience with combs can do it much more gracefully and quickly than I can, so as always, somebody else’s mileage may vary.

The combed top spins up fairly quickly. Far more quickly than the combing process, which takes roughly twice as long as spinning. When it’s spun, though, it looks like this:

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Eventually it’s going to be rug yarn, which I’ve written about before. Some of this fleece has already been chain-plied, and I’m trying to decide if I want to do that with all of the yarn or make some of it 2-ply instead of 3. Which will be a good way to spend this evening. Much more enjoyable than looking sadly at the rapidly falling snow outside.

The Thing I Don’t Talk About the Most

•April 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This is (less and less, admittedly) a knitting and handspinning blog. I’ve had a different blog for some other things, but this is something I would like to use to write about all of me and how what I do for fun and art affects that. Vice versa as well.

It’s tough to talk about this, so I’ll just come out and say it. This is not a shock to some of my Ravelry friends – not all, but some – or my Twitter friends. I have been battling depression for all my adult life. It started in my Happy Teenage Years, and wasn’t helped by our move the summer before 10th grade. Depression appears to be hereditary in my family, but I can’t be certain. Some days/weeks/months are better than others. I appear to be affected by the lack of light in our Northern Hemisphere winters, but sometimes that doesn’t have anything to do with it either. It just feels like…Like nothing. Like I’ve fallen into a void that is impossible to leave, and the only thing there is to do is nothing. On a bad day, I celebrate getting out of bed. On a good day, I’m just like normal-ish people. Frankly, I’ve given up on normal a long time ago, so normal-ish will do nicely.

I will also say that this has NOTHING AT ALL IN ANY WAY TO DO WITH MY BEING A GOTH. Nope. Looking back, I’ve always been attracted to the macabre since I was a child. When I feel happy and confident, I wear black and/or my favorite band T-shirts. If I’m feeling awful, I reach for red, blue and purple.

If I’m feeling bad enough, I really don’t want to do anything. At all. No social media, no blogging, nothing. At my worst I don’t even pick up a drop spindle (which really is the end of the world). By that time I should probably be steered away from sharp objects and the pill drawer. Sort of a joke.

What helps? For me – and only me, I don’t presume to tell anybody else how to deal – meds help. Sometimes they don’t help completely, but that doesn’t mean they do nothing. Exercise helps, preferably outside. Of course, when I need it the most I find all sorts of reasons to stay inside. Music helps. It’s the one thing that always helps, if even a little bit. Music has quite literally kept me alive when I didn’t have any other reason to keep going. At my worst, though, it’s not always enough.

The reason I’m writing about this now? I think I’m starting to slip backwards. It’s nothing dire, today. If you feel like you too might have a problem with depression, please go find somebody to talk to. Something that’s also helping me is Twitter. Since I found “The Bloggess Tribe”, a bunch of regular readers/commenters at The Bloggess/Jenny Lawson, it’s helped a lot. Just knowing that somebody else is struggling too makes things a little less awful.

The Start of a New Week

•April 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This past weekend was a bit rough. It was a long weekend for Baby Goth, and we’ve been doing free/cheap things which has been a challenge. She did spend most of Saturday out with her gang, so that was good.

I spent the weekend working on this chart, which was a good distraction.

We’ll see if it uploads, shall we? Not correctly. Sigh.

Now that that’s finished, I need some more to do. I think I may do some crewel work this week with this: crewel1

It’s more of the Churro; light gray to start with, which made some nice-looking dyed crewel yarn. Probably on some hemp twill canvas for a bag, but we’ll see.

The Dalek is coming along. I keep frogging and repeating the lace, as I’ve not been happy with how some of the lace turned out. I think I’ve got it this time. The yarn has held up surprisingly well, considering the abuse I’m putting it through.

Prince

•April 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead yesterday at his home in Minneapolis, MN. It sounded like he had been fighting the flu for a while, but the autopsy isn’t done so there’s no official cause of death.

He was amazing. An incredible musician who was probably able to play any instrument that people even thought about in their dreams, a composer who wrote for a LOT of other artists, a producer and engineer (mostly on his own albums, but for a few others), and somebody who seemed uncommonly gracious in presenting new artists. And a queer black man. Somebody who embraced androgyny with both hands and was always himself, no matter what.

Lots of people are writing tributes to him, and will be over the next weeks. I’ve only got one or two stories that I’m willing to share, so here goes…

Purple Rain premiered when I was living in NYC, and I went to see it. I think I went by myself, or only with one or two people from the audio place. The movie was something else. Mostly a concert movie with some other bits in between the songs (or maybe that’s all I was paying attention to at the time), it had all the fun of being at a show. I left with the songs running through my head and a huge crush on Lisa and Wendy (the guitarist and one of the keyboard players in the Revolution).

Normally I would put up some videos or audio clips. Sadly, Prince moved the vast majority of his videos and all of his audio files to the Tidal music service. As a musician who likes receiving paychecks, I can certainly understand why. I did find something this morning on YouTube – a clip from “Purple Rain” of my favorite Prince song. Enjoy before it’s taken down. This is certainly music to spin by. I shouldn’t have to say it, but it’s a bit NSFW so put your headphones on already.

I don’t know if anybody else cross-stitches, but Julie Jackson of Subversive Cross Stitch has come up with a good way for some of us – okay, me – to work through our feelings. (Link goes to the page where you can buy the PDF)

Edited to add: I’m embarrassed to say I forgot all about this. Thank you Liza for reminding me. I even listened to it yesterday while on my way to yet another job interview – our local punk/indie station played all Prince on the retro lunch show. Enjoy the Foo Fighters, you guys:

Why Can’t She Have Her Birth Certificate?

•April 20, 2016 • 2 Comments

A couple of things before we get started:
This is primarily a knit/spin blog. I, like other bloggers, sometimes write about other things that affect my life. I don’t apologize for it, and I won’t stop writing about what crosses my mind on a given day. On to the post.

The talks that I love and fear most happen while in the car.

Baby Goth and I had a day off yesterday. She was opted out of her state testing, and I am currently “underemployed”. We went into town, walked around, visited a new to us fiber shop – it’s mostly a yarn shop, but she’s got a nice selection of roving and batts – and went to the record store across the street. A pretty good morning.

On the way home, somehow we got into a conversation about her birth certificate. She’ll be applying for her learners permit next spring*, and she needs a birth certificate to present to the DMV. Which might present a problem.

For those who don’t know, I am an adoptive parent. My daughter has a birth certificate of sorts here at home, with Dad Goth’s and my name as her parents. She currently does not have access to her original birth certificate, with her other parents listed as her parents. Now, technically there should be no problem. The words “birth certificate” are across the top of the document that we have. It is not called a “certificate of live birth”, which is the original one issued from the hospital after she was born.

She asked if she could request it. In our state she can – in fact, she is the only one who can, Dad Goth and I are not able to request it on her behalf – but only when she’s 18. Not that far away for me, a giant chasm of time for her. It isn’t fair, but that’s the law in our state. Teenagers can do an increasing number of things, but not this. Hell, she can create multiple Snapchat and IG accounts that, frankly, I don’t want to see. But a birth certificate? Nope, sorry. You’re too young. Plus the laws are different in every state, which needs to change. Lots of things about adoption should be changed, but this is the biggest change that needs to happen.

*My goodness. Next spring? There’s a whole lot of nope in my head right now.

A post in search of a title

•April 17, 2016 • 2 Comments

So this morning, I’m sort of alone. Dad Goth is out shoveling the foot of snow that fell last night, and Baby Goth is still asleep. As an aside, it never fails to amaze me just how much a teenager can sleep.

Most days I don’t mind being by myself. Not today. Being alone gives me time to think, and I’d rather not think about things right now. Lots and lots of things that nobody here can control, from the weather to employment to plenty of worst-case-scenarios that have been keeping me up at night. I’ll write about it once it’s over, but there’s no need to bore people with more than that.

One thing I can control: making things. I’ve been knitting quite a bit, and have written about that before. I’ve also been working on yarn for a rug. It’s chain plied Churro, in various shades of gray. I think I combed enough yesterday to fill the rest of the bobbin. The combs I’m using are 2-row Vikings, so it’s going slower than I’d like. Even slower than carding, at least for me. Preparing wool also helps me to turn off my brain, which has been really helpful this week. These past couple of weeks, to be honest.

So Dad Goth and I keep stumbling on, one foot in front of the other. We’re terrified of having to have a Conversation with Baby Goth about how things are going and what may be coming next. Dad Goth and I both moved during our teenage years, and we don’t want to do that to her. There may be no other choice, but we’ll do whatever we can to keep that from happening.

Sorry about the downer.

And Now, a Bit of Knitting

•April 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This has been a long week so far, and it’s only Tuesday. I guess I could start this off by saying there aren’t a lot of good things happening for us right now. We still have a place to live, a car to get us places, and food and clothing. That’s the good part, and the only part I can bear to write about.

Let’s get on with the fiber stuff. I’ve been working on a version of a Dalek shawl for the past couple of weeks. The inside lace part is finally finished, no thanks to my little yarn eater. This past weekend I looked for some yarn for the outside border lace.

There was some laceweight Blue-faced Leicester that hadn’t yet been dyed. It looks like there will be enough. I grabbed a packet of dye that said “Gold”, weighed the yarn, measured the dye, and got to work. While the yarn was simmering it looked yellow. Really, really yellow. Like a giant pile of lemons yellow. Not exactly the gold I was going for. dalekdyejob1

By this time I was sad that I didn’t have any “copper” dye around, but I figured I’d stick with it. I took the dye pot outside and let it cool off, then drained and rinsed the yarn. Not a lot bled off, which was a nice surprise. Then I hung it up to dry.
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Superwash wool of any breed takes dye a little differently than even the same breed of sheep without the treatment. The wool tends to suck up the dye and the color is a bit darker than it would ordinarily look. The small skein is a sample of Shetland singles that I had lying around and wanted to experiment with. The color isn’t exactly what I wanted, but I’m going to go for it anyway.

Yesterday I wound up the two BFL skeins and picked up stitches for the border.
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I guess it’ll be okay.

 
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