Sunday, February 27, 2011

We shall overcome

I'm not sure what to blog about this week, so I'm going to make it quick and simple. This is for Libya.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

A full day

I spent much of my day at my drum carder and spinning wheel, watching TV. In fact, I distracted myself so thoroughly that when I very cleverly set up the crockpot with this week's spaghetti sauce (what with it being Spaghetti Sunday and all), I also very cleverly forgot to turn it on. The part of Spaghetti Sunday will now be played by Wednesday.

Yesterday, I bought some very nice chocolate brown alpaca from Legacy Acres Alpacas. They're up in Manchester and I love being able to see the faces of the people who shear the beasts. Bubby helped me pick it out. I was torn between the black and the chocolate and she said chocolate, so chocolate it was. I considered spinning straight from the fleece. Alpacas don't produce lanolin like sheep, so the fiber is just about ready to go right off the beast. I carded it anyway so that the yarn will be nice and even and it's going to be lovely when I'm finished. Alpaca is a joy to spin, warm to wear, and as soft as a very soft thing. There should be more things made from alpaca and having a local source makes me happy beyond belief.

I also carded the vegetable curry wool that I dyed last week and I think it might be a little yellower than you can see in this picture. Anyway, I'm pleased with the color and the fact that the dishtowels retained the yellow color through the washing machine tells me that the wool has a chance of being pretty colorfast as well.


That's not the best light because, like a distracted dorkfish, I forgot to take a picture while the sun was still up. No, no, I was far too busy re-watching Farscape. I think the color is about accurate, though.

In other news, today is open your swap box day and, if you can't tell, I'm pretty pleased. The theme for this swap was "favorite colors" and I'll give you three guesses what mine is.


Bubby took the pictures and most of them were pretty good. There were several out of focus, but other than that, were not bad pictures. Anyway, I'm very happy with what I got, not because there was a lot of stuff inside (there was), but because each thing was carefully picked out and packed with care out of love. Thanks, K.

So, just when I think that today's been a total waste, I realize that it hasn't. I spun and carded yarn, did dishes, and gave and received some love. That's a full day and I'm glad to have had it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Free from my burdens.

First the bad news.

I didn't manage to get permits for collecting in Argentina and so had to cancel my trip. No permits, no butterflies and because I'm using federal money, I have to do things properly. On the one hand, I'm much displeased because I was really looking forward to seeing the other side of the Andes, but on the other hand, I'm a bit relieved. Don't get me wrong, I love traveling and the things that I learn and see, but it's stressful, too. I'm away from my family and when doing field work, I have very little contact with them. I worry about whether they're eating right and if the bills are going to get done properly and most of all, I just miss them.

The awesome news is that I finished all of my knitting. February is for finishing and I pretty much rocked it.

Yeah, I'm bad.

Photo credit goes to Iris. Though the top of my head is cut off, she chose to focus on the scarf instead of the awesomely good-looking and badass model wearing it. I approve. Also note the NaNoWriMo winners' shirt. The pattern is the drop-stitch scarf by Christine Vogel, yarn is sari silk that I spun up into a fingering-ish weight, done on size...6? maybe size 7 circulars. It's got a fantastic drape to it and though the pattern was simple to knit, it looks like sheer genius. I named it Lakshmi for the Hindu goddess because she seems like the sort who wants people to feel beautiful and be happy. The fiber was given to me as a gift and not only did receiving, spinning, and knitting it make me happy, but maybe it helped out the person who was employed in preparing the fiber as well. Can you believe this would otherwise be waste?! I hate waste.

But I love these colors:

I call it "Vegetable Curry" and, in fact, there are patches that dyed even more yellow than can be seen in this picture. I used leftover vegetable bits like onion skins and so on and tossed it into the pot with... curry. I used a cheapo curry that is described as "mild." While the flavor didn't really excite me, the color turned out great. I have it on good authority that I should make my own curry anyway and maybe one of these days she'll show me how.

I even had enough dye for the dish towels. These have seen better days and are now patched. The one on the right was dyed with india ink and over-dyed with the vegetable curry, so it's grey with just hints and bits of yellow. The one on the right is just the straight-up curry. I may over-dye that one with coffee or something to hide some of the darker stains, but it will do for now.

It is my nature to leave off some of the stuff I do because it's just patching that I do on a fairly regular basis. This work is valuable nonetheless and while it gives a certain... quaintness to things that we own, at least that's better than a hole. I'll buy or make a new tablecloth one of these days, but a patched one will cover the table just fine.

See? This is a pretty nice looking table, patches and all. It's not my best tablecloth, but it's alright.

Finishing my knitting gave me the opportunity today to do some patching and dyeing and last Friday, when the actual finishing occurred, I started on a butterfly hanky depicting Inachis io, the European Peacock Butterfly. I caught a couple of these in Poland and there's no greater fun you can have than chasing butterflies, riding motorcycles, drinking wodka, and then making Southern biscuits from memory while mildly hungover the next morning with your friends. I'll be thinking of last summer while I'm stitching this beauty.

Aaah, yes. My life is awesome. Though I am not now on a plane to Argentina, all is otherwise very well. There's as much awesome here at home as abroad and I can proceed with a feeling of being freed from my burdens.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Wherein I get a bit too philosophical about the naming of things


I have found that one of the greatest hindrances to progress is to hang on to preconceived notions. Taking a moment to wonder "what if?" can take us from simply gazing at the stars to walking amongst them. We have preconceived notions about a great many things and I was given an opportunity to practice letting go of those this weekend. I had an idea that I might play dice and paper with my friends, share in some celebrations, and watch the Superbowl this weekend. I wasn't entirely wrong and did manage to spend time celebrating Chinese New Year (xi nian kuai le!) with my beloved friends, but the dice and paper and Superbowl were not to be. At this point, I have no idea what went on during the game, commercials, or halftime show and while there's a level of disappointment there, I spent time actually relaxing today. All will be well.

In fact, it's a new week with new possibilities ahead and I think I might see if one of the specimens that I brought home from the British Museum is something new to people. I don't know yet, but it might be. So far, I have no preconceived notions of what it might be other than a butterfly I haven't looked at yet. I still cannot help wondering what I'd name it if it's new. I could name it after something mythological, following in the grand tradition of lepidopterists who have gone before me, or a colleague, loved one, or other person - also traditional, or something else that I haven't thought up yet. Naming organisms is funny business and seems to me a bit like signing your own name to someone else's work of art. I, of course, had no hand in the formation of any organism other than my own offspring that I might give a name to, but it's out of love that I'd give it a name and an identity. I suppose that's the same reason we give names to our children or even to our pets. If we didn't care, we wouldn't set them apart from the others by naming them.

Madeline's Mismatched Sock#1

It's the same reason, I suppose, that we who knit often give names to our projects. We spend time in their creation, getting to know them, understanding each interlocking loop, each stitch as an act of love toward not only that which is created, but the person who will eventually use the object. If knitting brought me no joy, I wouldn't do it. I suppose that's true for everything else I can think of that I do.