Posted in handspun, spinning by tchemgrrl on March 18, 2013

So this was a bit of a funny yarn.

I got this gradient-dyed fiber from my local knitting shop a while back when I was there to give a spinning demo. (It’s from Wild Hare Fiber, whose fiber I’ve really enjoyed in the past.) Just grabbed it 5 minutes before showtime, and sat working on it for most of the afternoon while answering questions and demonstrating things. By necessity, I spun it in my most automatic possible way for a wheel, with very little thought as to its final application–I split the fiber into 3 equal pieces, spun it at a thickness to make a 3 ply sport-or-so weight, and plied it.

I plied the yarn on the hookless bottom whorl spindle I got in a recent class of Abby Franquemont, because I wanted to get some good practice with her amazing flying trapeze of a plying technique. I found that flicking the spindle shaft between my palms with the force required to make everything happen bruised my hands a little, particularly as the spindle filled up, but with experience (and callouses), I could see using it a lot. Getting twist to move at great speed without tangles is definitely a rush. And just look at how crammed that spindle is!



As I was working on the singles, I got to thinking about what I could do with it. 4 ounces isn’t enough for a large project, but the slow gradient from white to black and back to white was the sort of thing that seemed to want a larger-scale canvas. I thought about the handspun color shifts in my Huntington Castle pullover, and had the thought that doing colorwork using this yarn on a white background would be really interesting. The starting and ending color was white, so the colors would just sort of slowly appear and disappear, a knitted Brigadoon.

Cool idea! I got excited about it, started deciding on a white fiber that would work well as the main color.


The part of this I didn’t think through was that there was white fiber and there was dyed-black fiber, and that when they got washed the dyed-black fiber just might affect that white fiber. The final yarn is perfectly nice, but it doesn’t start with the white color, which throws off the plans. So now I don’t know what to do with it.



A sweater for a baby Lion

Posted in FO, handspun, made with handspun, spinning by tchemgrrl on March 14, 2013

Some very dear friends of ours are having a baby soon. When I was laid up with my ankle without any knitting, I decided that a baby sweater for them was just the thing to do.

Our friends are vegan and eminently craftworthy, so I used my first handspun cotton yarn, a 3×2 cabled DK-to-worsted weight yarn.

cotton postwash

I had two skeins of that size, about 170 yards all told. Just enough for a sweet little spring baby cardigan.

I used my old baby sweater standby of Paxton, making almost no changes to it except to space out the increases slightly differently. I even kept the buttonholes. A day and a half of sedentary living and Downton Abbey watching had it complete. On the weekend, when I was doing well enough to get upstairs to the button stash easily, I finished it off. Having so little uninterrupted knitting time, I forget sometimes how fast things can go when you work on them for more than 5 minutes at a go.

Sweater for Lion

It being my first cotton handspun, the fabric is a bit more rustic and knobbly than usual, but it’s soft and washable and is slightly variegated due to my switching between colors of the naturally-colored cotton on several of the plies, which will help hide baby dribbles. And having knitted it up, I’m now pretty confident that it will wear well. (Well enough for the 5 minutes that newborn clothes are worn, at least.)

I hope that baby and mamas get some good use out of it!

More not-explicitly spinning thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on March 14, 2013

This essay speaks truth, and I’m putting it here because I need to come back to it later after thinking about how much time I spend advocating for a simpler life while accreting stuff.

A few brief things it’s making me think of:

The accumulation of stuff is a way to make it through to the next payday in case of minor emergency. If you’ve got extra groceries, extra clothes (even crummy stuff), there’s still that safety net, for yourself and also for your friends. Even though I’m not living paycheck-to-paycheck, I still have my working-class approaches.

Cleaning and sorting and winnowing and reassessing, all that needs to pretty much be a constant thing, to maintain a more minimal kind of lifestyle. The factors that play into poverty often mean that people don’t have the spoons to fight that constant fight.

It doesn’t mean that there’s not a value to getting rid of things that have no use, or things that need to be maintained that no one in a family derives pleasure from. But it’s giving me pause about some of my judginess.

A brief thought

Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on March 8, 2013

Brief because work has been high-intensity lately, and my brain’s about to leak out of my ear.

Easy and simple are not the same thing.

I was doing a spinning demo at a local yarn shop a few weekends ago, and I had a a lot of curious people asking thoughtful questions. One particular person stuck around for quite a while, and was asking the sorts of questions where I just know she’ll be a capital-S Spinner the next time I see her. Towards the end of the conversation, she sat back and sighed happily. “Now that I know how it works, it seems really simple! I just can’t do it, is all.”

And it’s true. It is simple. I’ve successfully explained spinning to four year old children, and children younger than that can grok it perfectly well, I just don’t need to explain it with pesky words. But knowing how it works, and actually doing it, are really different things.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy. At least, not at first.


The difference between simple and easy seems useful for my life in general right now. Doing right by everyone in my life–the actual behaviors are pretty obvious. But that doesn’t mean that the implementation is straightforward, or that they can be done in fewer than 24 hours per day, or with a still-imperfect ankle, or that being surrounded by people happy with me will mean I’m happy with myself. Just thinkin.’

Doin It Rong

Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on March 5, 2013

Some things you’re probably doing wrong.

Peeling bananas.

Tying your shoes. Another about shoe tying.

Drying your hands with a paper towel.

Cutting up a mango.

Personally, I enjoy being one of Today’s 10,000. Any of these types of things you’ve encountered before? I just saw the paper towel video, which is what reminded me of the others.