Saturday, July 04, 2020

Shifting priorities

Not much fiber activity occurred this past week. For one thing, despite the heat, the yard calls. I spend some time out there every morning before it gets too hot, then do some watering in the evening because it is not only hot but dry. Also, after the death of a cousin of my mother's a few weeks ago (not from covid), I feel a pressing need to go through all the old letters and photographs I've been sitting on for far too long.

Spinning: I finished spinning the purple merino/angelina blend singles and am halfway through the pink merino/angelina blend.

Today is Independence Day, a holiday I'm not too fond of. The dogs are even less fond of it, especially Clio. In Indiana, personal fireworks are legal. In our municipality, their use is limited to certain times of the year, like the week leading up to today. This constraint is ignored by a few, but to my knowledge, no one is ever caught, let alone fined. I've had to move the dog crates into my bedroom, as Clio is relatively calm if I am nearby. I have also been sitting out in the yard with them in the late evening, hopefully to inure them to the noise. My efforts help but I will be glad when this holiday is over.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Do you Pomodoro?

I recently learned of a time management technique known as Pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato. (The inventer is Italian and originally used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.) Basically, one works for 25 minutes, rests for 5, then repeats three more times, rests for 30 minutes, then starts all over again. There are lots of apps to help with the timing, but I have found that for me, the work/rest ratio depends on what I'm doing, how much sleep I got the night before, how hot it is (for outside labors), etc. The most important lesson learned, though, is I need to sit less and do more. Once I sit, I tend to stay seated for much longer than necessary. I also need to pay attention to my energy level. On day one, I overdid it in the morning, then spent the afternoon in recovery mode. I am getting more done, though, mostly outside.

Spinning: I am almost finished spinning the purple merino/angelina blend into singles. The pink and remaining angelina is all blended. It took me until the last ounce to figure out how best to do the blending.
Weaving: I'm almost done with the experimental grid on the pocket loom.

I took my granddaughter to her gem and mineral society meeting last week. It was outside, in an open park pavilion, but I still wore a mask and maintained as much distance as was reasonable, as did most adults. The granddaughter - not so much but not too bad. There were a few other kids there, so a certain amount of firefly catching went on. The meeting was my first group encounter since March. So far, Indiana is holding steady with new Covid cases, so there is a balance between public health and the economy... so far.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Pick and choose

In early August, after summer events and activities are over but before school starts, many people in this city leave town, a lot of them for "the lake". (There isn't one big lake here that everyone visits but many small ones that are referred to collectively as "the lake".) Traffic lightens, crowds lessen, noise diminishes. That what it feels like right now, in mid June. Businesses are opening, groups are meeting, but there just aren't a lot of folks around to enjoy them. My SO and I went to the local art museum and were the only ones there. We stopped at a DQ for sundaes and were one of only two couples there. My granddaughter is taking tennis lessons and has only one other classmate; the class previous to theirs also has only two students. I'm still being careful about where I go - I skipped last week's weaving guild meeting even though it was outdoors, politely declined a luncheon and a (masks optional) wedding - and I always wear a mask, but some think masks are now unnecessary. We'll see how that goes.

Spinning: I finished blending the purple merino with angelina on my drum carder and learned a few things about how that works. I'm about halfway through spinning it, which is another learning experience.
Weaving: I added the row of soumak to the previous piece but have yet to do the finishing work. Meanwhile, I started another piece on the pocket loom, to test out how to make a grid when weaving tapestry.

If you are interested in resilience during these trying times, the NY Times is running a series on this topic. I think there will be five articles in all; so far, two have been published.

Sunday, June 14, 2020


I've been thinking about discomfort recently. Buddhism and Stoicism (and probably other philosphies and religions) suggest we develop resilience by exposing ourselves to discomfort, starting with little things and working our way up. I find it difficult to manufacture uncomfortable situations, be they physical or mental or emotional. For one thing, everyday life seems to offer up plenty of opportunities for experiencing discomfort, especially lately. How we respond to those opportunities reveals our character. Being reactive or fearful rarely helps; having empathy for others and listening does. Not only must we learn to sit with our own pain but with the pain of others as well. I need more practice at that.

Knitting: I finished the Ivy socks. Time for a break from knitting.
Spinning: I blended some of the purple merino with the angelina, using a drum carder. I plan to spin it up before continuing, in case I don't like how it spins.
Weaving: I took the current piece off the pocket loom but could not figure out why there was a ridge near the bottom. A day later it occurred to me that that was a row of soumak, to aid in turning the edge. Duh. Now I need to repeat that at the top.

This past week I participated in my first Zoom meeting, with the spinning guild. Or tried to participate. There was something lacking in my connection - it kept cutting out with the message that the connection was unstable. It was particularly bad when I said anything. So I just sat there and listened to everyone else. Not a bad practice. ;-)

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Ivy socks are finished!

Once upon a time, I would try to knit a pair of socks in a month. One year, I think I knit a pair almost every month. I started this pair March 20 and despite being (mostly) diligent, I didn't finish them until yesterday.

Pattern: Short-row Toe and Heel Basic Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Co Poste Yarn Striping, colorway 'Ivy, VA' and Simply Socks Yarn Co Simply Sock, colorway 'Golden'
Needles: US1
Modifications: Not enough 'Golden' yarn for the cuffs, so I used the self-striping yarn until the last five rows or so

If you read this blog regularly, you might have noticed that I knit most socks in yarn from Simply Socks Yarn Co. Although SSYC is mostly an online business, it is local to me. Also, the Poste Yarn is made with Corriedale instead of Merino, which I think lasts longer.

It's not the knitting that bothers my shoulders but the purling. I must do something hinky with the purl stitch. I am going to take a break from knitting altogether for a while - plenty of other stuff to do - but I still have a fair amount of sock yarn in my stash that I don't want to abandon.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Wanted: a few rainy days

If the weather weren't so nice, I would have accomplished more fiber things this week. Instead, I have been out in the yard, trying to make up for all that remained undone last summer. Some of that make-up work involves sitting on the deck, listening to the birds while I read or draw. Not very productive but definitely enjoyable. Some rainy weather would force me back inside, where fiber projects await.

Knitting: It seems like I am never going to finish those socks. I'm about a third of the way up the cuff. One problem is that with the temps in the house higher than usual (trying to reduce the electric bill), my hands get a little sweaty, which does not work well with wool.
Spinning: I finished spinning one 2-oz. ball of pink. Next up is to blend the angelina into the the remaining balls. Most of it is going into the purple, a lighter amount into the pink. I hope my plan works.
Weaving: The temple arrived on Monday, I read up on how to use it on Tuesday, and that is all the farther I have gotten.

I've been reading At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life, by Fenton Johnson. Part memoir, part survey of some famous solitaries from Thoreau and Emily Dickinson to Nina Simone and Bill Cunningham, this book gives voice to something I had no vocabulary for before now. With the pandemic, solitude is a hot topic. There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. Some of us crave the latter, need it to recharge and to dig deep. Being solitary does not mean being a hermit, either, although some days I may act like one. Reading about solitude feels like finally getting a diagnosis that validates my reality.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hell in a handbasket

I try to keep politics and social issues out of my blogs - that is not why I write - but there are times when I wonder just what the hell is going on, and why, and how to fix things. I try to stay optimistic - something will save us from ourselves, a new leader, a technology breakthrough, SOMETHING - but instead things just seem to get worse. It's not just here in the US, either, but worldwide. We've reached some kind of tipping point. Where do we go from here? Where is Elizabeth McCord when we need her?

Knitting: My sock-knitting MO is to knit toes, heels, and cuffs in a contrasting color, but after completing about six rounds of the cuff in 'Golden', I could tell there would not be enough yarn to finish. Instead of 2" cuffs, do I resign myself to less than 1"? Do I purchase a whole new skein of yarn? Oops, the colorway is not available and the store is currently online only, no curbside pickup, so I'd have to pay for shipping too even though Simply Socks is less than ten miles away. I decided to knit the cuff in the self-striping yarn, which meant tinking back.
Spinning: I finished spinning one 2-oz ball of the purple merino and started the pink. The current plan is to blend the angelina into the remaining two balls, then FOUR-ply the finished yarn.
Weaving: I am still struggling with the rigid heddle weaving. The temple should arrive tomorrow, so maybe that will help. Re the pocket loom weaving, I stopped one night because I was tired and getting confused about the colors, then blithely carried on a few days later, continuing the confusion. I had to unweave, then reweave the thprird sun (which is hard to see in this pic).

On an almost-unrelated topic, I have been trying my hand at drawing with colored pencils. For one thing, it is a MUCH simpler method for creating art than weaving is.

Drawings can provide inspiration for weaving and other fiber arts. It is also surprisingly engaging. For example, how does one make a sphere look three dimensional? What color are shadows? How can there be so many shades of white? And who stole my Prisma colored pencils?