Tag Archives: Tour de Fleece

On getting rid of things, part III – thinking more than doing

tiny car

I’m suffering from a self-diagnosed bout of tendonitis.

That marathon session of curtain hemming, followed by countless hours of weeding the garden, some mad hex sewing sessions, some warm-up spinning for the tour de fleece, then knitting with cotton, and finally holding a paint cup in my taloned index finger and thumb for hours on end while painting the basement made some niggling occasional tweaks turn into a sizzling iron inserted into the flesh of my left forearm and wrist.

I haven’t touched needles of any kind for weeks, even my new little shorties, and this year’s tour de fleece is crawling at a snail’s pace as I’m learning to spin with my opposite hand and for just a few minutes here and there as to not damage that one too.

PRS-treescum1

So I’m back to sorting through my unpacked boxes of shit and book collection that I thought was already heavily culled…

My nostalgia problems and issues of practicality aside, how did I end up with so much?

And do I really have that much – certainly less than many Americans, but much, much more than most of the rest of the world…?

Most of it can be blamed on art, and if I take that which I describe as “materials” away, I’m left with a few small collections of old or odd things, a semi-reasonable amount of books for my field, and a variety of tools and gear that are used enough to justify.

I’ve been watching a few hoarding shows, and find them fairly distasteful/exploitative/I-don’t-know-what-it-is-but-I-know-it-when-I-see-it and have only identified with just a few of the folks – the kind that scavenge for re-sale or art – the rest with their excrement-soaked abodes are in a sad, much different sort of way. And I’ve also been reading some sites on downsizing and living in small houses.

I don’t understand why many of us have trouble getting rid of things.

I don’t understand the self-help guides and formulas – things that tell you to only wear a few things for a few months, then get rid of what you don’t (not taking into consideration that having too many pairs of socks means you don’t have to shop for socks for years); or get rid of a number of things according to the day of the month (i.e. get rid of 15 things on July 15) and then the people who publicly post their progress and count throwing the junk mail into the recycling as one of the things – or even worse multiple things – when it isn’t getting to the heart of the matter unless your problem is hoarding junk mail or expired foodstuffs or that terrible-smelling product you accidentally bought.

And why must our things thrill us or make our hearts sing in order to keep them?

(A drill isn’t thrilling unless you’re into something kinky, and if I heard my heart sing, I’d probably shut it up with the drill).

Why do we have to be supported or told how to do this as if we are terrible little children or untrustworthy junkies, or cling to others for approval and praise, or subscribe to a bullshit view of things (and life in general) as precious when none of us or anything is special?

Each and every one of us is merely a bag of bones and meat and our stuff rots away along with us.

And why am I even thinking about this out loud here, publicly declaring my own difficulty obtaining a more minimal life while criticizing others who seek out some form of help?

I saw a reference the other day about someone who was downsizing to a more modest 2,200 square foot house. I wouldn’t have considered modest and over 2,000 square feet in the same breath unless you had a family of ten or more.

I once knew a woman who lived out of three suitcases, and just bought a new bed, table, and one chair whenever she moved.  I was slightly jealous, but then she spent more and more time at my apartment, mooching off my atmosphere of live-in cabinet of curiosities until she seemed drunk with gee gaws.

I find myself looking at tiny houses and gleefully make fun of those earnest folks who believe they’re living the dream while fighting to breathe from cooking smells, the loft bed being 2 feet from the hot ceiling, farts, and the composting toilet.

(Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a tiny house on a trailer to park in the woods or the beach for a holiday or a private space for guests when at home.)

But those folks don’t get it – living minimally and simplistically doesn’t mean leaving a footprint – even a tiny one. We can be simple without as much as a single birch bark vase in an apartment or house already built, and work on making it far more efficient or entirely off the grid so that when that body beneath the vintage plaid shirt becomes dust, the next person who needs to live in a house will do so more efficiently. I imagine that tiny house will just be driven off a cliff or bulldozed by a municipality or turned into a suburban playhouse before long…

But perhaps again, I’m a tiny bit jealous.

So I’m striving for simple but not sterile, practical and affordable, homey but not belongs-in-a-home, relationship with my stuff…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, home, home decor, recycling, spinning, Uncategorized

Hot and bothered…

I’m busy and I’ve run out of pre-written or partially composed blog posts, or rather ones that aren’t just one big fatass rant.

It’s been hot and humid and I thought I could deal with it, but it’s been ramped up lately to tip me over into full brain and body stupor.

(The air conditioning in my car is broken and we don’t have any at home yet).

I actually had a bee in my britches a couple of weeks ago and it stung the sh*t outta me.

A bite in the ass does not make one work harder.

I’m sure lighting a fire under it will have the same negative consequence.

Out of some weird mid-life moment, I actually joined Facebook with my real name and it sucks… though I get to bully the old bullies back by choosing not to “friend” them back, but then I feel bad even though they sucked and made me feel like hell in the seventh grade.

The seventh grade is the seventh ring of hell.

I only had about 70 kids in my grade for all 13 years (kindergarten included) and I can’t remember 70% of them.

I’m getting PT for my knee and the place plays this “oldies” station that is the music from my formative record-buying years… it’s kinda freaking me out – too much of my past all at once.

With the near end of the World Cup, I am overjoyed to quit cable television and hope it nestles into its own hell ring.

I’m getting a lot of spam comments on this blog and it’s annoying the piss outta me.

I’m almost finished knitting a medium to largeish-sized project, recently sewed a small project, and thinking about ways to spruce up some ugly hollow sliding closet doors – we’ve got two sets of them…

I also just started to spin a bit for the Tour de Fleece.

PRS-zucchini-TdF2014

I will finish up this disaster from last year.

(One bobbin spun backwards, I cut my thumb while spinning the next, and it’s been picked up and put down too many times to count.)

I also want to spin some other things I didn’t get to last year.

I can’t find those at the moment though…

3 Comments

Filed under home, spinning

Mid-August progress…

We spent last weekend in the Adirondacks.

It was the last of the summer hiking trips for us.

ADK-pond hike

Our cottage was decorated in “Wal-Mart for cabin.”

ADK-bear

I actually miss the tacky painted saw blades, crude whittlings, and sh*t made out of driftwood and antlers of mountain/country crafts of yesteryear (or just a few years ago really).

Now it is plastic sh*t from China (often copied from domestic crafters).

ADK-racoon

But I managed to finally finish basting all of those damn letters.

Letters-done

The pile looks smaller than it really is.

I will never be so wordy on a quilt again.

Our CSA has been offering loads of lovely flowers.

It is a nice thing to have fresh flowers, but not in place of food – they really need to step it up in the veg department.  And as vinyl village apartment dwellers, we can’t compost, so I don’t like to have too many fresh flowers.

Quilt-shirt fabric

The letters are ready to mingle with the as yet unmade quilt blocks.

In Review

I’m also getting wordy with a fair isle scarf.

I don’t love stranded knitting.

I don’t hate it though.

PRS-lettuce on machine

My Tour de Fleece spinning goals fell short.

PRS-lettuce skein

But I finished plying my Pigeonroof Studios “lettuce” and have one braid left to finish spinning for a particular project.

I spun this one a little too thin and it came out lighter and softer in color, so it might have to become a different project.

Or the original project will be scrapped altogether.

That will have to wait.

I also started a major embroidery piece.

It will take some time.

It is pink.

I don’t love pink.

Leave a comment

Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, quilts, recycling, sewing, spinning, travel

Back to the woods…

We were in the Adirondacks last weekend for a couple of days of soggy hiking and down time away from our frustrating and increasingly desperate home (and my job) search.

ADK-Phelps

I know that I said earlier that I needed another bout of cabin time to finish designing that shawl but I have to focus on other projects at the moment now.  I took all of the letters I need to cut out and baste for my newest quilt (I think there are 26 total) but I only managed to finish a whopping four.  Pretty lousy progress.  And I’m not entirely sure I’m doing them right or how to handle some of the narrow slices that I really can’t fold down.

ADK-letters

So I easily got distracted since basting is tiresome to me and doesn’t seem to amount to much since I still have to sew the damn things on.  In my current overwhelmed and distracted state I forgot to pack socks for the weekend. It was a good excuse to buy a new woolen pair, though I could only justify the one and had to wash them after every hike and hoped they’d dry enough for the next time.  Our cabin was infested with carpenter ants and chasing after one to photograph it was a perfect basting procrastination activity.  Do you realize how hard it is to get a clear shot of a very busy (and harassed) little ant?

ADK-ant

Bugs were definitely showing off their strengths over the weekend.   Inexplicably, black flies were suddenly crazy about my eyebrows  and one little f*cker bit me so successfully that blood was shed on my favorite wool t-shirt.

ADK-bite

But the weekend also held one of those magical and rare summer afternoons when all that mattered was swimming in a mountain pond and feeling the sun.

ADK-pond

(Thanks to N’s family for their hospitality and the afternoon at their awesome lakeside cottage on Sunday!)

And since we were away, I had a late start in the Tour de Fleece, and promptly suffered a wipe out when I sliced open my thumb on a yogurt container of all things.

TdF-Wipeout

I need my thumb to spin dammit!  I should probably lower my yardage expectations now but I’m willing myself to heal quickly.

Leave a comment

Filed under hiking, knitting, quilts, sewing, spinning, travel, unemployment

Slowly simmering….

I’m slowly and only very occasionally working on my latest Lacy Batkus.  I still love the pattern as always, but I’m not falling in love with this version yet.  My handspun is a bit stiff and though I embrace all yarns thick and thin, it appears that the skein is getting increasingly thicker overall and thus the needle size may end up a bit small.

Lacy Baktus progress

But my old favorite pattern may start to feel the pressure of a new pattern in town…

Mimsy Hitchhiker

I’ve started a Hitchhiker by Martina Behm out of my handspun Pigeonroof Studios BFL “Mimsy.”

Mimsy progress

I wasn’t crazy about garter stitch and handspun before, but this single yarn is perfect for it.

Mimsy detailAnd damn near downright ethereal with incredible lightness and drape.

I’ve had problems in the past determining what to do with fuzzy yarn and this pattern is perfect in its simplicity – it was also perfect for some recent airport knitting time.  I do fear that I may run out of yarn before I make it the perfect size, but I should have just enough for an acceptable length, and I’m sure I’ll be able to block out a little more.

Other projects still in the works?  The cotton blanket is currently taking its last laps and I still need to decide how to do the border. I’ve started a quilt with applique letters that is kicking my ass at the moment.  And my spinning queue is bigger than ever.  My goals for the Tour de Fleece are spinning my recent PRS purchases:

PRS Tour de Fleece

It’s all superwash merino in colorways from left: Jadeite, Storm, and Lettuce.  Rather subdued and monochromatic for PRS, but I love them, and I love them combined.  I have plans for a shawl and I was initially thinking it might be something feather and fan-ish, but I’m on a garter binge now so it might be one of the trendy stripey patterns, or one of my own if I get my act together.  You may have noticed how “perfect” I’m feeling with my new handspun and Hitchhiker above, so now I wish I could make fulled/felted singles out of this, but it will have to be two-ply.  I have another braid of SW merino in a brownish colorway, but I don’t want to commit to finishing it in the near future and I’m determined to perfect my chain-plying skills on it, so it will be for another time.

And I need to finish spinning the zucchini blossom I put aside earlier.  I still want to turn it into socks, but I’m still on the fence about making a two or three-ply.  I found some complimentary commercial sock and other superwash yarn in my stash that could be used for stronger toes and heels, and possibly soles.  I thought these would be lighter summery socks, but if I make a three-ply they will be thicker… either way I’m happy I can eek out some more yardage with the commercial stuff.

PRS-squashblossomHmm, I will need to decide soon.

Decisions aren’t easy for me these days.

2 Comments

Filed under knitting, spinning

Stick a fork in it…

I pre-wrote this post to publish while I was away on yet another brief jaunt to sum up a few things I recently finished.  Yet the thoughts in my last whining rambling post have continued to fester and raise many more conflicting/contrasting brain furies.  I still don’t have anything even remotely answered or concluded, but in a way I do have a decision.  I am going to move forward on creating pieces for a portfolio and if they are done by the autumn (crazy insane deadline now) I will apply to school.   If I don’t get in or I do get in but without funding, then I at least have a body of work to throw around out there (outside of the craft scene).  And I don’t want to blog about it much apart from keeping track of new techniques I might learn or continued thoughts on craft vs. art, artist vs. art museum, academic artist vs. independent artist, lone-wolf artist vs. social media butterfly.

So on to finished sh*t that has nothing to do with the above.

Several members of my family are encountering hernia surgery these days so I made a Happy Hernia mini-quilt.*

Happy Hernia

And I have become very paranoid conscious about the way I lift things and contort myself these days…

I finished my Pigeonroof Studios BFL “Mimsy” May/June SAL roving as a felted/fulled single.  I spun it with a heavy hand and dunked and steamed and iced and thwacked and whacked and unspun it and made it my fibery bitch.  And for a much-abused yarn, it became surprisingly sturdy and bloomed beautifully.  It’s a bit shy of 450 yards of a fingering-ish weight.  I love fuzzy yarn but I rarely actually knit with it – just ask the balls of neglected mohair in my stash.  But I did start something with it right away which I’ll show next time.

Mimsy spun

Since I was infected with group think during this spin-along, I joined team PRS in the Tour de Fleece (you spin during the Tour de France).**  I don’t have any crazy goals for it apart from spinning my recent purchases (of which I have to confess that there was another, and then another).***

Finally, my brother and sister-in-law are the hiking sort too, so I sent a set of butt warmers their way.

Buttwarmer

With the oilcloth, I think these are a little more practical than my original ones (which have gotten a bit shredded) but can also brightly and gaudily serve as a distress flag to wave about.  I’m concerned that they’ll be a bit slippery until they’re scuffed up a bit and unfortunately this sweater was thinner so it provides less ass comfort.  Also my stashed oilcloth has some creases I can’t seem to get out – can’t iron the stuff, so what to do…?

Everything else is still half-baked.  And I also recently realized that I needed to get much busier in order to become more productive, so I’ve taken on a load of new projects (and may also get to up my part-time work hours soon) but I’ve got also got a newly festering anxiety that I may have bitten off a little too much…something might have to give.

*Sh*tty picture intentional since I’m paranoid about image theft and f*ckery these days, and get used to seeing that annoying tag on everything too.

**I like bicycles, and I ride mine (awesome story behind it too) several times a week, but I don’t think I’ll be watching the Tour much… as Italophiles, we do often have calcio (soccer) on the tube though…

***I talk about this way too much!  I don’t know the person/people behind the company in real life nor do I get kickbacks – just love the stuff, and the last acquisition was someone’s bargain de-stash so my spending is ending for the time being.

2 Comments

Filed under hiking, quilts, recycling, sewing, spinning, thrifting