Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spin City meets Hipnic on the High Line

Spin City's meet up on Monday evening at the High Line converged with an event called Hipnic, who also did their own spinning, of sorts. The event was captured and posted to YouTube -

Over the course of the evening, the lines between the two groups merged into a single cohesive whole. Which is nicely described by the New York Times.

I'm still kicking myself for bailing out but that kitchen thing needed attention since the plumber didn't get to us till Monday. Oh well, it was a lovely evening for all my friends!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Push On

A nasty head cold, insufferable heat, plumbing disconnected in the kitchen since Tuesday, husband with a flu. Life is grand over at Chez Knithound, I tell ya.

We got a new counter top. After 7 years of living with...are you ready for this...marine varnished plywood...(ahem)...we finally got the new counter top. BUT. The sink was disconnected Tuesday morning, I drove it out to the fabricator in Long Island (took 1/2 a day!), they installed the counter tops yesterday and here we are, Saturday evening with no kitchen plumbing! Seems the fabricator failed to instruct me to have the plumber come back after they were finished. Um...didn't you say you were reinstalling? Ohhhh, remounting, not reconnecting! aha. And the plumber called this morning, yes we will be by later today. Not.

So here we are, both sick as can be, the kitchen in complete disarray, the AC firing on high but not cutting it. What's a knithound to do but spin yarn.

The Tour de Fleece/Tour de France ends tomorrow. I won't be finished with the 3 pounds I set as the goal, but I am making my way through that lovely Shetland roving.

Shetland Yarn Skein 1

It's wonderful. 408 yards, 12 wpi. The second skein just came out of the bath, 368 yards. More singles tonight. I have nothing better to do the rest of the evening, and at least making yarn is taking the edge off my bad case of cranky.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Loop Cloud = Tweedy Yarn

Those of you who know me on Facebook know this is my profile pic:

Loop Custom Blended Cloud 6

Well, that poofy cloud (shout out to Steph who works her magic on a daily basis) in my arms became yarn sometime around March - April. I have no excuse for not showing it to you sooner.

Loop Custom Blended Cloud

Spinning this gave me a chance to practice long draw, an obsession that began with this yarn and shows no signs of abatement. It was interesting to feel the differences in the various fibers as they moved through my fingers.

Loop Custom Blended Cloud

I was a bit surprised at how tweedy the yarn became upon finishing. I'd never worked a cloud like this before and didn't know what to expect.

Now the next challenge is to find the right project for it. We had a lively discussion about various shawl patterns one evening in my spin group. And I queued up one in particular that might work.

Loop Cloud Single On Bobbin

But I could also use this in a woven project, and with weaving, I don't even know what I don't know. A whole world of unknown possibilities.

I have over 440 yards of 2 ply, DK yarn from about 5.5 oz of fiber. Lots of options with this yield. It will work itself out in time.

Oh, one more thing: YOU GUYS!!!! You are all so supportive and thank you thank you thank you for your patience and understanding while I beat a dead horse worked out my thoughts on my HOBBIES. I really appreciated hearing from all of you.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Tour De Fleece, Day 13, Shetland singles

We're headed into the third week of the Tour de Fleece and to date I've finished two yarns (pics to come soon) and am well into the biggest pile of fluff I'd included in the Tour spinning set - the gray Shetland.

You see two bobbins here, but I'm actually on my 5th bobbin. With each bobbin holding approximately 3 oz of woolen spun singles, it means I'll finish up nearly one pound of singles sometime this evening. And judging by what still remains to spin, I'd say this roving is closer to 2 lb! Looks like I underestimated the fiber amount by 8 oz and this is great news because there should be enough yarn to make a sweater! Spinning a long draw moves fast despite the challenge of maintaining consistency. It's going well enough and overall I am pretty excited about this one.

The Tour ends Sunday and if I can get these singles into some finished 2 ply, it will be an accomplishment. I had set out to do more, but this infernal heat has really hampered my progress! Our house has room air conditioners, but not in every room. Every year that passes I recall how much I thoroughly dislike this time of year - I am so grateful I don't live further south where this beastly season lasts even longer. UGH.

Monday, July 12, 2010

About That Hobby...

Winter Storage 1

Hi. I'm back and if you don't mind, I'll continue with the thoughts on work and play, ego and identity. Where was I? Oh yea, I was struggling with how to monetize the knitting and then I saw that article in the New York Times....

About three years ago I started a new job at a large corporation. And you'll recall I noted the self help industry's implied message that I am a lesser human because I wasn't pursuing the THING. The livin' the dream thing. I took it to heart with the result that I was twisted in despair. I resisted the day job, convinced of a better life...somewhere else.

The despair pushed me to spend money and time with a coach and I took classes to gain a license. While knitting and spinning, I was also doing a ton of soul searching. That New York Times article arrived at an interesting moment in this time line, because I was about to take a serious leap. But then I didn't. For a ton of reasons, I didn't.

Around that time I had a conversation with a friend, an artist who has struggled all her adult life to earn a living and lives pretty much hand to mouth. The reality of that kind of living is, it consumes so much energy.

Anyway, she said, "You are so lucky. You have a job that pays the bills and that means you can pursue your knitting and spinning without all that pressure." A simple and obvious statement, but the way she said it and the tone of relief she expressed for me, was profound and I was ready to hear it. In that one moment, something shifted.

The shift has meant that I now embrace a very simple concept that I somehow missed in all that noise and psychic, manic energy. Please don't laugh too loud, but I finally realized and accepted that it's simply okay to have a hobby.

That is, having a hobby is valuable in and of itself. It makes a person interesting. It adds dimension to a human existence. A person can have a job, and have hobbies and be happy and well rounded. Fulfilled. Most important for me, it is liberating. Because there isn't the pressure to earn from what I love, I can love it even more. Without that pressure I can follow any path or or branch I want. No limits, no time constraint, no worry about making it work.

I know!! DUH. Really. Seriously. DUH!! Call me a "Sunday knitter" if you wish. I won't take offense, nor do I scorn the thought. My identity is that of knitter and spinner, and maybe soon, weaver. I identify with the hobbies and have a job, too.

Thank goodness I saw the light before it was too late.

The Tour de Fleece continues, and the yarn you see above is Hello Yarn Fiber Club, Winter Storage, 686 yards of DK/Worsted weight. It's a monster huge skein, 8 oz of fiber converted to yarn during the biggest heat wave to come along so far this year.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

While I am noodling around with the notions of work, play, ego, identity and creating value from fluff, sticks and string, this showed up last week on Mason-Dixon Knitting:

I thought it was amazing timing! So I reached out to chucksmithnyc for permission to share. He graciously agreed I need to pay it forward. Renate speaks truth. Maybe I will get lucky and meet her.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Oh my gosh! I just realized I may have forgotten to show you what my spinning plans for the Tour de Fleece! I am so sorry. Let's fix that right now:

TDF 2010 Lofty Goals

Three pounds of fiber. The giant gray balls total 1.5 lbs of Shetland lamb roving, from a lamb named Zinnia. I love Zinnias by the way. There's also .5 lb of black Shetland roving from the same farm, Wild Apple Hill Farm in Hudson, NY.

Then the handpainted fibers are from three different clubs - we have Shetland (Double Dog Dare) from Southern Cross Fibres, South African Fine Wool (Istanbul Sunset) from Spunky Eclectic and two bumps of Finn (Winter Storage) from Hello Yarn Fiber.

My last two posts featured the singles I've already spun up, and over the course of the Tour I'll continue to post the progress!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Do You Think You Can Sell That?

tdf10hy day 5

Judging from the comments you all left on my last post, it looks like we are all in the same boat! Glad to have you aboard! Heh. Boy, do I know it. Bethany, you hit on the second thing I hear (we all hear) often - "You know, you could sell that." I guess it's meant to be complimentary, indicating that the project is so well done, it has monetary value. That people would actually spend money on it. They would willingly buy it. But we all know the truth - no one would pay what it's really worth, when you factor the time that went into making it.

What I want to talk about, actually to mull over, in this public forum, is work. You see, I've been thinking through lots of stuff when it comes to the idea of work. What work is, and what it means to me.

Four years ago I started knitting. I was initially attracted to the pretty colors - that's what drew me in to the local yarn store. Then it became about the tactile experience, the idea that I could make something with my hands. It was empowering! It was FUN! It was a way to channel some energy into something productive. And it represented the opposite of the tech world I live in 9 to 5.

Very quickly I also realized it was a fantastic way to shut out all the turmoil going on around me. Believe me when I tell you, there was much turmoil. Which we can maybe cover in the future, but not for now.

Throughout this time, the little voice was asking, 'Is there a way to turn this into a new career?" "How can I make money at this?" "What's the new and unique thing I can bring to market?" And I had other voices saying the same thing, "You know, you could sell that." "You should open a Yarn Store!" "Why don't you sell what you make, then at least you would be doing something."

And of course, the entire Self Help Industry is/was touting the notion that earning a living at doing the one thing that makes you happy is the key to all salvation. There is the implication in all of this that a person is somehow a lesser human being if she hasn't cracked the code on melding the passion with the money making. I recall a conversation in which a painter told me he was struggling to find a way to be a full time 'artist'. He scorned the notion of being a "Sunday painter". His identity requires he earn a living from his painting and anything less appears to be unacceptable.

You see, I had allowed myself to be convinced that if I felt as passionately about knitting and spinning and fiber then I needed to find a way to monetize it. To earn my living off it. That it can only be considered real if I could translate that passion into earning a living. And this notion got me tangled up for about three years, causing me great angst. I questioned my choices, and asked myself how can I make change, change what I do with my time.

And then I stumbled across this, which made me hit the pause button. What is work? What is fun? What if the thing I have fun doing becomes work? Would it still be fun? What is more important? Work? Ego? Identity? Fun?

Many of you asked about the bobbin I posted yesterday. It's 4 oz. of Spunky Eclectic hand painted South African Fine wool, called Istanbul Sunset from Club offering in November 2009. I spun it up on Saturday and Sunday, and intend to Navajo ply it after it rests a bit. I like how it looks so far. And this isn't the first time that the spun singles are nicer than the fiber, to my eye at least.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Are You Going to DO With It All?

TdFday2 - SE Istanbul Sunset 2

Because of my Mom's physical proximity, she sees much of the stuff I make over the days and weeks. She often admires it politely, rarely even touches it and then invariably asks, "What in the WORLD are you going to DO with it?" This comes up most times when I show her my yarns.

There is often eye-rolling accompanying the question. I have other relatives who kind of do the same thing.

It's clear they don't understand what I am doing. They certainly do not understand that there is joy in the making. That for me, it's all that really matters. If it gets made into something else, well that's fine. But if it remains as yarn in a skein, and I had a good time making it, that's fine too.

They come from a time when everything needed a purpose. And I suppose my hobby seems frivolous to them. My Mom thinks I should be selling the yarn and knitting to make money. Otherwise, she thinks I am wasting my time.

I've arrived at a place where when the question is asked, I reply, "Oh, am I supposed to DO something with it?!"

Monday, July 5, 2010

More Bobbin Clearing

Well we are full on into the Tour de Fleece, but I did want to show you one more yarn before I go into complete overload.

HY Parritch 3 ply 4

This is a 3 ply yarn made from Hello Yarn Club fiber, called Parritch. The fiber is Targhee, one of my favorites because it is so squishy and bouncy. After I finished plying and put this baby into a nice warm bath it exploded into a wonderful bouncy yarn. Just like I thought it would.

HY Parritch 3 ply 3

There's about 344 yards of fingering/sport weight yarn here, enough for a simple pair of incredibly bouncy squwooshy socks. If I ever get back to knitting again... (not gonna think about it right now.)

HY Parritch 3 ply 1

Before I sign off, I want to thank you all for your comments and well wishes. I've got quite a few blog posts piling up in my head, things I've been thinking about and wanting to put out there - about life, career choices, moving forward, being centered. There are also some lovely projects that deserve some blog attention.

Alas, these will all have to wait till another day, because right now I really want to get back to spinning for the Tour.