Sometimes Tiny Vacations Are Best

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This summer has been busier than usual. Andy has to travel more for his job, the kids are busy doing the things kids do. and I'm gearing up for a fabulous fall teaching tour.

I didn't schedule a family vacation, usually we camp or cabin, but there was no time to wedge in four days in a row with everything else going on.



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So we went on a spectacular mini vacation, an overnight to Cincinnati. Why Cincinnati? Because our family is a little in love with Fiona the baby hippo. 

We went to the Cincinnati Zoo and met Fiona, we ate out, we went to a great bookstore, and just hung out together. 

It was great and just what we needed this summer. I want to plan a couple more little vacations before the year is over.

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I even got a little weaving done in the car. I'm intrigued by this book, has anyone read it?

What adventures have you ha this summer?


Tour de Fleece Sock Yarn, It's Fine

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For the first time in probably forever, I hit a spinning goal. Of course, my goal for the Tour de Fleece was to spin one braid of fiber into yarn to make socks.

A small goal met is still a goal met, and it was really satisfying. What wasn't as satisfying to me was how inconsistent my yarn is. 

I was hoping for a nice fingering weight, about 14+ WPI. Instead my WPI ranges from 10-14, sport to fingering. I have 300 yards, so making a pair of shorty socks will be no problem.

What made my yarn so inconsistent? Laziness and that phrase that all makers use, "it's fine". That phrase is the crafter's version of my southern favorite, "Bless her heart". It's 100% code.


When anyone making anything says, "it's fine" or "it will be fine" what they really mean is, "this is probably f'ed up, but I don't want to figure out why or how to fix it, so I'll keep on, and change my plan as I go."

Which is exactly what I did. I dreamed of 400 yards of sock yarn, fingering or finer, to make a pair of plain vanilla socks, but got 300 yards of fingering to sport. So I changed my sock idea to short socks at a bigger gauge. Of course I haven't knit a swatch yet.

What bit me was spinning a yarn that's not my default and not checking in more with my yarn along the way. I checked my singles against my control card, but stopped checking against my plyback sample before I was even halfway through my braid. My twist went back to my default, instead of the extra bit of twist I wanted, giving me a bigger yarn.

Even though it's not exactly what I wanted, I'm happy with my yarn and I'm still going to make one very pretty pair of socks!

I hope all of you who spun in the Tour ended up with yarns you love!


A Little Love Affair with Grey

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I know I'm known for loving all of the colors in the world, but lately I've been staring longingly at naturals, most particularly greys, especially the warm, warm greys, the ones that are almost brown.

I think everyone has a natural that's their favorite. For me I know it will never be white, though I can see the variations. There is something about white that makes me jumpy.

I used to be all in for brown, dirt. I still love it, but now I'm shifting a step toward the greys. Concrete grey, dove grey, that spectacular grey with lavender that is the underside of clouds, ash in the smoker, even angry sky grey. I'm seeing and appreciating it everywhere.

Grey has my heart lately in fiber, there are so many variations within that one color, cool,  toward blue or green or warm toward red, there are even some that I swear have a brusie-y purple cast.

The color that's Oatmeal BFL may be number one for me. I used to think it was just brown, but the more I've looked at it and spun it the more I see that it's grey, a warm, warm grey. 

I can spin these warm greys and not get sick of them and should probably plan a something using several. Using them to mix and blend with other colors at the wheel really does me in, they mellow and enrich other colors like other naturals can't.

All the stones, elephants, sweatshirts, the perfect grey cat. my grey hairs, and so many sheep.

What natural is your favorite?

Favorite and One Not So Favorite Books of the Year, So Far

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It's a little more than halfway through the year, here are the books I've most enjoyed so far, in random categories. They are all fiction, because that's what I read most. I'll put links in for each book; I am terrible at describing books in medium detail. I can do it in paragraphs or in a sentence or two, nothing in between. I'll add my couple of sentences, but if you want to read more, click on over to Good Reads.

Fiction: The Immortalists by Chole Benjamin. Four siblings grow-up knowing the date they will die. Best cover of the year so far too.

Audio Fiction: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. An absolutely original take on one woman's madness, heart wrenching and brutal, especially if you or someone you love has any mental illness issues. The book is read by the author, brilliantly.

Best Mystery: IQ by Joe Ide. A sly and well-crafted nod to deductive reasoning. This Sherlock is young,lives in a dangerous LA neigborhood,and out smarts them all.

Best YA or Book to Live Up to the Hype: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. It seems that any children's or YA book that has a group of kids and magic gets compared to Harry Potter. For me this is the only one that lived up to the hype. It's the right mix of magic, mystery, brutality and adventure. It also manages to shine a light on our current world and politics.

I rarely speak negatively about books. Everyone has their own opinion and sometimes I can just be in the wrong mood for a book. I recently read a mystery that, well, at the very least, proceed with caution. There was so much hype about this book I should have known better. There was nothing I liked about The Woman in Window by A.J. Finn. From the traumatized, addicted, unreliable narrator, to the twists that I could see coming for a mile. I listened to this and the reader was a bad fit too. I'm not sure why I finished it.

What are your favorite books so far this year?

Dreamy Indigo Dyed BFL

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A couple of weekends ago I went out to my friend Carla's for a natural dye day. I decided to just focus on indigo and dyed a shirt, some yarn I thought had no acrylic in it (I was wrong), and some mixed BFL fiber.

The yarn was dissapointing, it turned a blue-grey at it's most saturated and then 98% of the color rinsed out.

The BFL fiber, however became the most beautiful blue. The BFL fiber started as a mix of oatmeal and black. I dipped it just once and the oatmeal turned to a warm light blue.

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I spun and knit a little and I am so happy with the result. The dark parts of the BFL weave in and out of the blue making a beautiful semi solid.

Since I have a couple of pounds of the mixed BFL in my stash I want to go back to the indigo pot and dip some 2x and some 3x and use the tonal yarns in a single project. Sigh.

A downside I always find any time I dye fiber is how roughed up the surface of the fiber gets. My dyed fiber always looks like a cat has dragged it around the house after vanquishing it in battle.

Do you have tips for keeping the surface of my fiber tidy when I dye?

Tour de Fleece Intuitive Spinning

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I'm spinning sock yarn for my Tour de Fleece goal. I'm spinning Homestead Hobbyist top, drafted woolen into a 2-ply with extra ply twist. I've been asked how I know what my overplied yarn will look like, and how to check my singles consistency when I want extra ply in the ply twist.

Mostly I don't stress it. For me the most important thing is to not get a yarn that feels wirey for socks. I spin my singles fine and woolen and use a plyback sample to guide me. I do a little measuring and a lot of touching, a more intuitive approach to spining.

I know I want my plied yarn to be about 14 WPI. I spin a single that I think is close but, under that WPI then check the WPI * of a plyback sample. I check it plied back on itself, then I tighten the ply twist with my hands, to get an approximation of the overtwist I want.

I feel and check the WPI of my manually overtwisted 2-ply. If it's not right, I do it again. If it's close to what I want, I note my numbers and spin a bit to make sure I can match it. Then I wrap some of my singles on a tag to compare as I spin and attach my plyback smaple to the same tag. I can quickly check WPI against the single on the card and twist with my ply back sample.

My plyback WPI is 12 and over twisted it's 14, which is right where I want to be.

Yes, I should do a bigger sample that is plied, finished and knit. But I just want to spin and get to the making. I'm always happy with an ish yarn. We'll see if this type of intuitive spinning rocks or bite me in the butt.

Embroidery with a Sore Shoulder

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I will be the first to admit that I don't take care of my body like a should. I haven't been stretching or doing yoga as regularly as I used to before and after spinning and knitting. The result is a sore shoulder and neck. I am now back to yoga and stretching, reading Carson Demers wonderful book Knitting Comfortably, and resting my shoulder.

Since I just can't just sit, I hunted for a fiber craft that uses different motions and muscles than spinning and knitting, and hit on embroidery. I used to stitch quite a bit and have all of the supplies (and then some).

I had several patterns and samplers on hand from Dropcloth (the patterns on the bottom, to the left and the one in progress) but felt the need to freshen my pattern stash. I bought three patterns from Cozy Blue (top right) and a nautical knitting themed kit from Hook, Line, and Tinker (top). I don't need any more patterns to stitch, but let me know if there is someone whose work you really like.

What are you spinning for the Tour de Fleece? My goal is four ounces of Homestead Hobbyist fiber to knit into socks for the Homestead HobbyIst Sock Along, a multi month spin and knit.

Talking without all of the Words

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My father in law has dementia. He is one of the most intelligent and curious people I have ever met. Through the years we bonded over books and reading, and clashed over guns. This man loves his family fiercely and he knows exactly what is happening to him.He made the choice to stop driving and get rid of his car. 

He grasps for words most days, but still knows the concepts. We had an entertaining conversation about black holes the other day. Between his dementia and my menopause brain we didn't have many concrete words between us, but understood each other perfectly.

His birthday was the other day and he wanted to go to John King Books in Detroit, four stories of used books. My husband and I took him book shopping and then to Polish Village for lunch. He has great difficulty reading, but still loves books. He spoke openly at lunch about how much has changed, and didn't need to say how hard it is to feel himself slipping away.

These types of outings have become a regular thing, mostly with my husband and his dad. I feel lucky when I get to come along, to spend time with him and to have the connection of talking without all of the words.