Tuesday is for spinning

Book is at the printer, finally, so today I reward myself with some spinning, a beautiful chocolate espresso brown romney that I bought at a Black Sheep Gathering some years ago. I had a m*th problem between then and now, and had to disassemble my drum carder to clean out all the casings, and the drive band stretched. Drat. In hopes of shrinking it down, I had a Brilliant Idea of hitting it with my garment steamer. Sadly, all this did was melt the glue on the drive band, and it popped in two. Crap. Ok, no problem. I have some two part epoxy (black and white make grey), a paper cup, and a toothpick handy. Mix it up, glob it on, and hold the seam in place with fiber strapping tape for a few days.

So no romney for me today. I’m substituting a latte colored CVM (also from BSG, maybe even the same year) which I sampled once upon a time, as a 4 ply cable construction. It’s soft yet crisp, and will make a gorgeous light weight aran.

And then I get an email from school. No hot lunch today, can I bring some lunch for Heather. Sigh. Tuesday is for spinning?

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Now what?

Norwegian Knitting Designs is off to the printer, and I am on to the next book. I have a couple of projects in mind, and I’m researching for some articles for Piecework. A knitter’s work is never done.

So of course, that means knitting for me. Behold Crunchy. It’s based on Croci by Cosette Cornelius-Bates, on Ravelry at Cosette Cornelius-Bates. The yarn is handspun, a roving made up of roving and batt ends that I bought at a Black Sheep Gathering in years past.

Below are some details of the crunchy yarn goodness.

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Ok to Print

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While We Wait

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I knit this short sleeved top last year? The year before?  It’s from a free baby sweater pattern on Ravelry, named Lucille.
Love it. The yarn is Rowan Calmer.  Love this sweater so much I’m making another one with long sleeves.

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And the yarn here is Shelridge Farms.  Something easy and non stranded while I wait for the second proof.

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Heather Update

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The knitter’s daughter finds her craft.

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Thoughts on Japan

The newly resurrected spinningwheel.net is already on the robot list. I got this comment yesterday, in response to my thoughts about suffering and caring. And clearly it was a bot, because the commenter doesn’t get the gyst of my post. In which I agree with the commenter.

It’s not difficult at all for a lot of people to just switch off the TV and forget about the horrible things that happen in this world. I, however, do not believe in closing my eyes to the suffering of others. Post-Sendai, there are many Japanese left without food or shelter. Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to spare the money to donate, but any contribution that you could make would be appreciated! If you don’t have money to spare, please keep the Japanese in your heart and spread the word along to your friends!

Ok, aside from the annoyance of robot responders, which I will address at a later time. And I will. I do have some thoughts on the crises in Japan.

First, like anyone with a pulse, I am horrified by the earthquake and resulting tsunami. And terrified by the nuclear collapse that’s happening right now. I’m not watching it on TV, though, because that just makes me anxious and unable to act. I agree with the commentbot that donating to reputable organizations (the commenter link goes to a site that lists Red Cross, Mercy Corps, etc.) is a fine and noble thing to do in such crises.

Japan, though, is a rich country. And while Red Cross tents might be a useful loan in the short term, they don’t really need us to give them back the money we borrowed from them at this time. They’re making money off the interest.

What Japan needs, and the world needs, is to get off these toxic energy sources. Oil, nuclear, coal, and even gas, are just toxic. Period. The stuff is dirty, with dirty, filthy waste, and the industries are largely run by dirty, filthy people. What Japan and everyone else NEEDS to do is open our eyes to this fact, and the fact that we have a clean, essentially-eternal source of power in the sun, the wind, and the ocean currents. Instead of toxic nuclear plants that are being feverishly cooled with ocean water, if Japan switched to using those currents as their energy source, there wouldn’t be a radiation problem to worry about. I know some will say the middle of a crisis isn’t the time to criticize, but when the crisis is over, attention will turn away. The world survived Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now Fukushima is melting down, and we’re still considering nuclear power in the United States. Europe is undergoing emergency inspections and halting new plants. We must do the same. We’ve just got to stop this stuff.

I’m not a historian, but I play one in knitting books. The Fukishima plant is owned by Dai-ichi, which is one of the giant Japanese megacorps, with subsidiaries in countless industries. (Pharmaceuticals, Fishing, Nuclear energy, Hotels and hospitality, Insurance, to name a few. Just Google Dai-Ichi or Daiichi and see what you find. I believe this is one of the companies that survived WWII to become an equivalent of Rayovak in the US. A huge, bloated, bazillionaire, life sucking corporate entity.

Japan doesn’t need your money. Japan needs to hold Dai-Ichi responsible.

As a closing note of irony. Click again on the Dai-Ichi Life Insurance link. Read that headline. Thinking People First. Under the Corporate Citizenship page, the company brags about its recycling and green energy initiatives. This is the worst kind of greenwashing imaginable. A sibling company touting its green practicies, while the nuclear plants are melting down. How long do we as world citizens put up with this?

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Proof that I Proof

This is how much I love my printer.  Vincent delivered this trimmed proof copy for me yesterday.  The cover is folded, with the spine in the right place, and everything.  The inner pages (that’s “guts” in the industry. For reals.) are a little wide, because they are sanded down just before gluing.

Same as Selbuvotter, my photos are too dark.  I don’t know how to calibrate my monitor, it seems, and I should have done some steps AFTER coverting to greyscale, and not before. No worries, I always keep my originals. 

This weekend’s fun is just getting started. You, Me, and Nina Simone.  Proof party, baybee.

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Pretty White Mitten

I had to rip back a half inch or so, because I got too excited over the side thumb gusset. All those Selbu mittens, with the thumb gusset set onto the palm. Beautiful, but I think side gussets are more comfortable. They match the anatomy better. How many people do you know with thumbs sticking out of their palms? About as many as I do, which is to say, none.

Details on this mitten. It’s worked in Rauma Finnullgarn, which is a beautiful yarn from Norway. It’s similar in grist to jumper weight Shetland, but the hand is completely different, especualy after you wash the garment. Shetland has a dry, crunchy, sandy texture, but Finullgarn is more like crispy bread crust. I’m using 2.75mm Clover bamboo needles. I like to carry knitting loose in my handbag, and metal needles fall out too easily. And I think I clench metal tighter than I do wood or bamboo; my hands hurt after an hour of knitting. I just prefer wood to metal. Inhaven’t measured my gauge, but I would guess I’m getting 7-7.5 spi over straight stockinette, and maybe 6spi over the beaded cuff.

In case you ever wondered, Designs By Romi shawl pins make excellent emergency stitch holders.

What are you knitting?

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To care or not to care

Acedia and MeI bought this book when it first came out. I was just newly divorced, depressed, not really sure where I would go. If you’re not familiar with Kathleen Norris, you should pick up one or more of her books. She is an insightful writer, and so many of her themes ring true to my middle-class life.

The book in a nutshell: Acedia is one of the original “bad thoughts” that later morphed into the 7 Deadly Sins. It refers to the malaise that sucks action from a person’s life. I know these things need attention, but I just can’t bring myself to care enough to do anything.

I don’t think that’s been my problem. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I care so much that I find myself unable to act. I don’t know what to do first. I’m overwhelmed with caring. The government is utterly corrupted by corporate money, media ignores the real problems that might inspire voters to act (Charlie Sheen? Really?), the people around me are utterly absorbed by their own daily issues and ignore the real problems they could solve. Example: a teacher at my daughter’s school is facing real personal crises in the form of family illness. When I asked in the office how she was coping, and if anyone was organizing to help her out, the response was, oh, that was last week. Not only was no one helping, no one seemed to want to help at all. Or to even notice that the problem was not going to just go away. And my offers to contact her and OFFER help were met with polite indifference. No one needs your help, dear. Just go away.

How does a moral person respond to that? So much is so wrong, and no one seems to do want to anything about it. And so I sit in my chair and wait for the lightning bolt, and THINK with so much intensity, as if the mere force of my will could manipulate the universe into meeting my expectations.

How do I make people WANT to care enough to act? Especially when they block me from acting myself? How does one person counter the cultural acedia that’s become the accepted norm? It’s not a rhetorical question, I could use some advice.

When I look at the actual political struggles that are happening right now, here in Wisconsin, and in the Middle East and North Africa, I see people who have found their own responses. They are looking at their situations – dissolution of collective bargaining and general political and economic oppression – and they’ve decided to work together to change things. From my chair, the only way I can think of to change the world is to rechannel my too-much-care. I don’t have power or money to make things happen directly. All I can think of is keep on knitting, keep publishing my works, restart this blog and feed you all with my subversive ideas.

Maybe god put me on earth not to act directly, but to inspire others who have greater ability than I, to act for me.

Knitting, to me, is a deeply spiritual act. A moving meditation. The pictoral designs I use in my patterns hold symbolic meaning that points to a reality that is greater than the thing they appear to represent. This is how I put my thoughts Out There and try to make the universe listen to me.

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Lke this. This is what I’ve been doing

So you know I’ve been hitting the stranded knitting pretty damn hard. I’m taking it easy today, because I’m waiting for my book proof, and the domains are all moving to a new host, and there’s just not much to do but wait. Do I pick up one of my WIPs and get to work? Of course not.

I rummage around for some plain white wool, and some beads. I’ve never done beaded knitting. Never really interested, except that one time I put beads on the bind off of a small garyer stitch shawl. (oh, I knit that. I’ll show you some time soon.). But for some completely off the wall, out of the blue reason, I have to mix my beads with my yarn. Crazy, I know.

I wanted to demonstrate some Other Ways to use charted designs in knitting. That’s what I wanted to do. So I pulled up a page of small motifs from my mitten design class, and cast on 36 sts in some natural white Rauma Finnullgarn. Joined in the round, two garter stitch ridges, and off I go with the beads. It looks like this.

A row of tiny little selbu roses, with seeded border. I was wondering what the piece would be. It’s too small for my wrist, and I don’t wear wristlets much these days. I don’t want a cozy for my phone, an anyways, the beads would probably just scratch it. But it’s just the right size for darling Heather. A perfect mitten cuff, in the perfect size.

And then I start to imagine giving her a pair of creamy white mittens with green bead stars on the cuff, and what her reaction might be. Great, Mom, just in time for spring, she mit snarl. Or, would she just wear them to play in the mud, and ruin them? I started a pair of stranded mittens for her last year, beautiful bright red Selbu tulips on a grey heathered backfround. I even wrote the pattern and listed it in Ravelry. But her second mitten is still half finished, and I’ve knit on a half dozen things while she has waited for her special mitts. Does she feel unimportant?

Or maybe, I would wrap them in pretty gold tissue paper, tied with a bow, and she would carefully open the package, and sigh as she slipped her little hands into them.

And at that mment, as I’m slipping the last bead into place, I start to miss her so badly that my head aches and I can’t see straight, but I WILL NOT cry again because she is at her dad’s house this week. I have given up self pity for Lent.

So now, instad of a nothing sample to keep me occupied while I wait, I have a pure and evergreen sign of my love for this amazing chld I’m privileged to call my daughter. And I know she’s only ten, but I think she knows that when I make her something, it’s an expression of love. She keeps the Gir hoody I made at her dad’s house, but brought the granny square afghan back home.

I will finish both pairs of mittens. With luck, before she gets back Sunday night.

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