Impulse Fiber

Posted in FO, spinning by tchemgrrl on May 23, 2012

At the 2010 Finger Lakes Fiber Festival, I ran across Fiber Fancy, a fiber artist whose spot was one barn over from the friend I was helping that weekend. Her stuff was gorgeous, but the one time I wandered through I happened to not have my wallet with me, and never made it back.

Then, I thought of her colorways all year long, but I couldn’t remember the name of the business. I even looked through the vendor list of the fiber fair and nothing looked familiar. That’s one way of knowing you should have bought something! I knew I wouldn’t make the same mistake in 2011, and I didn’t. They’d moved to a tent, and I got this lovely Merino:


Beautiful colorway, but completely not my usual style–I’m usually much more of a tonal colorway person, with occasional forays into absolutely ridiculous brightness. This particular yarn didn’t really hit either extreme, and as such I wasn’t entirely sure how to work with it.

I did, however, notice that all the colors pretty much stayed to one side of the color wheel–greens and purples and a little blue. So I thought that I might be able to turn it into something a little subtle by mixing the colors up a bit. I decided to make a fractal yarn, working half of the fiber from the full width of the merino top, and splitting the other half into three roughly-equal strips. The result would be an intentional and hopefully cohesive mixing and matching.

I spun and plied all the yarn on a spindle, making a low twist singles and intentionally overplying for a bit of puffiness and body in the final product. I spun much of it on a recent business trip to Florida and had a blast explaining the engineering inherent in fiber arts to a bunch of curious scientists while I worked.

spindle full

My goal was a sportweight yarn. The merino poof factor being what it is, this is about the thickness of a machine-spun worsted weight yarn, but I think it’ll knit up just right as a sportweight anyhow, if I want to. It’s just got a ton of air in it, is all. Amazing yardage even for a sportweight; 415 yards for 4 ounces. Thanks, merino poof.


The next trick is to figure out what the heck I’m going to knit with it. Any ideas for a really squishy merino of many colors?


What do you do with sad yarn?

Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on May 22, 2012

This may be the first-ever fiber-related post that includes a trigger warning. This post talks about an old pregnancy loss, with no physical details. If you’re not ready for that, skip it, and in skipping it have my wishes for your healing.

It’s just string, after all. But I know lots of people who buy a little skein of something when traveling, to bring that feeling of a foreign place with them for the few extra hours it will take to knit that pair of socks. And I know of people who have gone through a cycle of starting a project, getting dissatisfied, and ripping it out several times until the yarn itself feels like it has some bad mojo. Or they have a little ball left over from a sentimental project, nominally kept around “for repairs” but really as a reminder of their beloved out in the world, kept warm.

And sometimes yarn gets imbued with sadness.

I had some yarn that I bought the first time I was pregnant, with what could have become a spring baby, born about 6 months before my Doodle ultimately was.


It’s Hempathy, a nice springy yarn in nice springy colors. Since it had been very early in the pregnancy, I very consciously Did Not Buy It For The Baby, but nevertheless I apparently DID buy it for that particular baby, because I’ve been burying it in the bottommost layer of the stash without looking at it ever since I lost that first pregnancy. There was other yarn with similar plans that I was happy to knit, and other things bought that first time around that I was happy to give away or dispose of. Something in this yarn, I just couldn’t. I could barely look at it. It held all that hope and sadness and fear and disappointment.

So what do you do with sad yarn?

I’m pretty well at peace with everything that happened with that lost pregnancy–occasionally slightly wistful that my 18 month old is not turning 2 right now, but with full awareness that he’d be someone different if he was that other guy, and so would I. I also know that I can’t imagine him being anyone but the amazing guy he is. The yarn brings me back to that place, but I don’t live there anymore, and I don’t WANT to live there either.

I was ready to let that sadness go. To knit with it would have been too much wallowing, to give it as a gift would have seemed like an offense. It’s perfectly nice yarn that deserves a good home, a fresh start, a chance to make someone happy. It’s not its fault that I can only look at it through a filter of sadness.

I destashed it for a good price. It had been up on Rav for a while, and I just noticed that I got the original inquiry on the two year anniversary of that original due date, which somehow feels right. I put it in the mail today.

It was a very light package.

And now there is a little hole in my stash that can be filled with good memories, or sentimental leftovers. I can dream of possibilities rather than fear them.

A different type of WIP

Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on May 9, 2012

I went on that finishing binge, and then went on a corresponding project-starting binge, which means that I have a bunch of raggedy looking pieces of the v-yoke cardigan, and a lumpy unblocked Hitchhiker, and a few more bobbins of humbug BFL waiting to be plied, and 3.5 ounces of singles spun from this top from Fiber Fancy.


Then there’s the garden, still a pile of dirt but rototilled and deer-fenced, ready for seedlings as soon as we get a door on it.

But my main WIP is this guy and I thought I’d talk about the changes from 12 to 18 months. So if baby rambling is not your style, wander away and I’ll be back as soon as I finish something. (I’ve got 3 things that are at that 80% point, so it’ll probably be soon.)

big smile

Words: So. Many Words. At a year he had about 10 words if I was super-generous with the definition. We’re well past 50 now that I can understand pretty well though with a few overlaps, and many more that all sound like “Dumbledore” but which make sense in context (“pretzel”, “downstairs”, and “blueberries” all fall under this category, for a sense of the complexity that his mouth can’t yet manage in spite of his brain clearly knowing the word). Words that have shown up in the past week: spoon, “Doodoo” for Grandma Dorothy who visited last week, “Ah dye” for “other side” (a nursing-specific term), and “whee!” for all playground equipment.

Daddy and Mommy are mostly interchangeable titles.

Word I’m most impressed by: “happy”. Said in totally appropriate contexts.


Coordination: Walking, running, jumping. Walking backwards is funny, as is walking around with something that obscures his vision (sunglasses indoors, hats over eyes.) He knows how to gently touch a baby or animal, and can handle books with real pages. Several people have commented on how well he throws balls.

Coordination feat I’m most impressed by: Yesterday I handed him a plate with some corn on it, and he walked across the kitchen and climbed into an adult chair without spilling a kernel. (3 minutes later, he scattered the corn intentionally, so I’m not celebrating a decrease in mess yet.)

Marked man

Self-care: He can put a hat or scarf on himself, and is more help than hinderance with everything else. When he wants to go outside, he will hand me his socks, then fetch his shoes, then a coat and/or hat, and then say “byebye” to drive the point home. He’ll wear a hat if it’s cold, but is not fully behind the “hat for the sun” idea yet. He’s a decent handwasher, and will go over to the sink unprompted before meals.

Self-care action I’m most impressed by: He does a fair job of blowing his own nose.

basket case

Other helpfulness: He wants to help with everything, all the time. Sweeping, folding laundry, wiping spills. When something is wrong with his world, he will come up to you and say ‘Uh-oh!’ until you address the problem. I kept him happy while I was cooking recently by showing him how to grease muffin tins and then putting some wax paper on his hand to wave at the cups; some cooking may be in his future.

drawing at school

Likes: All animals, and all animal sounds except me ba-KAWKing like a chicken for some reason. Going outside–all adventures are good adventures. Music and dancing. Counting numbers. Elmo ("Memo"). Things with glowing screens. Pens and pencils and paper.


Dislikes: Cold wet things applied to face or hands or bottom. Not getting his way.

Sour face

Personality: Some little snapshots, here.

-He likes climbing things and yelling his name, I guess in case anyone was wondering who that amazing climber was.

-He loves school buses. He says "kids!" and waves. Sometimes kids wave back and he’ll clap his hands with joy.

-Tonight, I was giving him a bath, and he started saying "dadaDADAda" and waving his arm around exactly like the twins in that video that went viral a while back, which I’d watched with him a week or so ago. I smiled, thinking of how similar all toddlers are. Then he did it again, and said "Babies".


"Are you remembering that video with the two little boys?"

In answer, a huge smile and a nod of the head. Then he very deliberately stuck his foot up in the air like the kids on the video.

Jesus wept. I expect him to start quoting Monty Python any day now.

Theo and A

Parents: Oh, gosh, this has changed so much. At a year, I was feeling pretty low. It was a damn hard year and I had no way of knowing that the turning point was pretty much there. Things have been so much better in the past 6 months. There are hard days, but not hard months. There are whole good weeks! Not everything goes as planned, but I’m pretty joyful about my life.

Making him smile