I wisely gave myself a project–to make some yarn for my friend, K. She said she likes purples and reds. I made her this two-skein gradient. I may have overdone it on the shiny bits.
The red is mostly BFL and some mystery wool, with some Merino. The purple is all Merino. And I still remain frustrated by Merino. It’s clumpy. It’d dense. I don’t spin it very well.
I just feel like there’s something I’m missing about it. Do I need to card it 100 times? Should I only blend it with things? People fucking kept these sheep secret, so amazing is this wool. Why am I immune to its charms?
Maybe I’ll feel different when I start using it, but right now, I am stunned by how beautiful this yarn is.
There are still so many ways I suck at this. I’m still not incredibly consistent. I hurry too much when putting my dyes together and then I’m always pissed that they don’t look any different than they always do.
Even so, it’s so beautiful.
I didn’t do any twist setting last weekend, so I have a lot of yarn that needs it this weekend, which is fine except I don’t have a lot of places to hang it up to dry.
I’m still deeply in love with BFL, but I got some Targhee/bamboo/silk blend in my Paradise Fiber box this month and, whew, I like the hell out of that, too. Dyed up nicely, spun up nicely, feels real soft.
I told y’all how I am having a weird sense of things coming together just right for this bombing book, in terms of me being comfortable in front of crowds and able to engage an audience.
Yesterday I had to give a brief speech that was basically like “Here’s how to buy this book. Here’s some background on the series. Here’s how excited we are. Please buy it.”
And three people complimented me on it.
In unrelated news, though, the Butcher needs to be in Phoenix next week. Which means I am going to end up being the one to finally clean out his goddamn bedroom. Am I allowed to box it all up and mail it to him in Arizona?
Because I am tempted.
It’s been two years of “I’ll get over there. I’ll do it.”
I also think I’ve decided on a pattern for the afghan I’m going to make for myself out of the yarn I’m spinning right now.
Am I alone in having watched this? I had it on while I was spinning and I wanted to talk to someone about it, but no one I know has seen it.
But I’m also afraid that, like, if I go to Reddit to see what people are making of it, they’re going to point out all the ways it’s stupid and ruin my positive feelings for it with their logic.
Anyway, it’s up on YouTube and I think it’s the best depiction of how most supernatural experiences work. The way it’s both really boring and kind of nonsense and deeply moving. But really personal and I’m not sure very compelling from the outside.
Y’all, I got so much done yesterday. I got some really good revisions done on the manuscript. I dyed some fiber. I spun some fiber. I plied some yarn. I put together a chair. I took all the cardboard in my house to recycling. I rolled down the windows so the dog could bark at the world. I swept.
And then, of course, because I have anxiety, I sat around and worried that I’m in some kind of manic phase and developing a new mental illness.
But I actually think, maybe, knock on wood, I’m just having a nice time.
Last night, I went to a lecture by Don Cochran who successfully prosecuted Bobby Frank Cherry, one of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombers. At the end of his lecture, he showed an editorial cartoon of Cherry in a cell, wearing a t-shirt that read “Segregation today. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.”
It gave me chills because Asa Carter, Wallace’s speechwriter, wrote those words. Asa Carter was also Bobby Cherry’s Klan leader in 1957, when Cherry attacked Rev. Shuttlesworth.
I’m trying to figure out how to make rolags on the drum carder. The problem is my technique, because all the elements are there–the fiber is on the carder, the carder is keeping the fibers aligned, I have two long sticks to pinch the fibers in–but I still kind of suck at it.
But I did make some rolags last night. Not great rolags, but rolags. And, y’all, in order to keep your yarn from getting clumpy, you cannot pinch too hard on the rolag. You have to keep your back hand loose. And, with your front hand, you don’t need to pinch too hard because the way the rolag is set up keeps fiber feeding into the twist.
So, when I first learned to spin, I was pinching with both my front and back hands. The twist came up the fiber and when I felt it in my front hand, I opened up the pinch and let the fiber draw into the twist, keeping my back hand pinched up so the twist couldn’t get into the rest of my fiber.
This is, turns out, a great way to get lumps.
But something about the rolag made me realize I’m always pinching too hard. And, you don’t have to draft every section of fiber if you’ve already pre-drafted. You might, indeed, have some sections of fiber that are already the right thickness. Just let those sections pass through the pinch.
And that’s true for all spins!
So, my making rolags technique still kind of sucks but my learning to spin rolags technique seems to have improved my spinning game in general.
The transition from den/junk room to craft room is slowly happening! I have these awesome shelves. I have a sturdy repurposed desk for my drum carder. I have a repurposed rolling TV stand for… I’m not sure what, yet, and a couple of chairs on their way.
The Butcher and I tried to put the new spinning wheel together. We did… not great. But it sure is pretty.
I had coffee in the morning with S. and I was telling her my desire to turn the den into a craft room and I don’t know why, but I left coffee, went to Home Depot, bought myself the kind of shelving that I want, went to lunch at Steak & Shake and decided I didn’t like any of the chairs that the local furniture places were showing online, so I came home and bought myself a couple of chairs for the craft room.
Then I started emptying that motherfucker out. Whew. I am so sore today. And there are still two computer towers, a huge old monitor, and a TV in there, but the Butcher is coming over this morning to help me take them to recycling. And put the shelves together, I hope.
I took these pictures while I was taking a break (before the mop broke. Did you know you could break a mop?)
I really hate pictures of myself. I just feel like I look fat and gross and it bugs the shit out of me. But here I am, unshowered, no makeup, covered in skunked beer (long story, but what the fuck, den?), dirty, fat, and cute. Like, this is cool to look at. It’s okay. It’s not gross.
Also, I set the twist in a bunch of yarn, so here’s my bathroom.
Can you just wear yarn around as jewelry? Do we have a consensus on that?
“Going in to Hobbs and Shaw, they still have a very biting chemistry, and they are polar opposites of each other in every sense of the word: from where they’re from, how they talk, what their likes are, what their philosophies are, what their fundamental core values are,” Johnson previously told EW. “But yet, they still have this magnetic attraction that happens between them that the universe brings them together, certainly against their will.”
Mark my words, they give Shaw a sister for Hobbs to end up with because Hollywood will not give us the Hobbs & Shaw romance we deserve. We’ll watch a character just like Shaw, but female, slide in and take the spot the narrative has generated for Shaw, because we both desire for The Rock and Jason Statham to fuck in front of us and we can’t admit that desire to ourselves.
This is one of the things I find most fascinating about the best Jason Statham movies. They’re dude movies. The audience for them is 100% supposed to be dudes. And yet, Jason Statham is always getting stripped down in them. And, more importantly, the camera lingers all over him. The audience is supposed to look at his body and supposed to enjoy looking at it.
But there’s always some tacked on, extraneous woman.
It’s like, if the male gaze is supposed to let men have a fantasy where every woman is for their consumption and every action hero is a male power fantasy–do her, be him. A lot of Statham’s roles–or I guess a lot of Statham’s directors–are constantly positing the question “but don’t you want to do him a little bit, too? I mean, look at his chest or his shoulders or whatever” to their male audience.
And yet, to mask the fact that the films are creating a space for men to desire Statham, there’s always some extraneous woman.
As for me, The Rock, Jason Statham, and fucking Idris Elba? If that movie theater isn’t 60% women, I don’t understand this world.
It went well. Really well. The audience was super engaged. I wish I’d had more photos, but the photos I had were good. And people seemed to get my points and be along for my inferences.
One woman told me it was the best presentation they’d ever had, which, frankly, I find hard to believe, but it’s super sweet.
I’m starting to feel like this could be a big deal. Like everything is coming together in a way I don’t quite know what to do with. The topic is good and interesting. My writing is informed, but engaging. I’m knowledgeable and engaging.
I spent six hours yesterday with a Civil Rights leader and Freedom Rider, Rip Patton. He was delightful. We talked about everything from drums to how to foster hope in people.
How is this life?
He sang. He quoted scripture in ways that moved me to tears. He listened so intently to the students he was supposed to be speaking to. He asked them such interested questions.
He spoke only obliquely about trauma, but I think I’ll be thinking the most about that, about the things he couldn’t remember and his decision to not try to remember them, assuming his mind was trying to do him a favor.
So, as you recall, I wasn’t in love with merino when I first tried to spin it–and it’s everywhere. Every cool fiber prep in all the neat colors–it’s all merino. And I’m just like “ugh, why do people like this? The staple is short. Sure it’s soft, but it’s not light and airy.”
But, y’all, in mixing the merino with this mystery crappy fiber, I am beginning to appreciate the wonders of merino. It sticks to everything. It’s like the cobwebs of wool. And it helps make everything it sticks to smooth and soft.
With my woolfriend, BFL, when you grab the end and pull the fibers apart, the fibers kind of poof out, like you’ve done the magic trick where you get a bouquet of flowers out of your magic wand. It’s like a fountain of long, soft fibers.
Which is great for spinning! It’s just one clump of long fiber after another. But they’re not particularly grabby. If you get a fat spot, you can kind of tug on it until the fibers slide apart and thin out.
Whereas when you grab the end of the merino and start pulling, if you pull slowly, fiber keeps coming. The individual staple length is short, but it holds onto its buddies.
So, mixing the BFL with the crappy fiber worked okay, but it was, in essence, just twisting the BFL and the crappy fiber together. You could still feel the scratchiness of the crappy fiber (though much lessened).
But the merino sticks to the crappy fiber. Pulls it along into the drafting zone. You’re don’t have to make sure that you’re also grabbing the crappy fiber. It’s right there.
I still love the shit out of spinning the BFL by itself. But I’m starting to come around on merino. And I can see why it was so valuable in the past. It’s not just that it, by itself, has the softness or whatever. It’s that it makes your other wool better.
I finished a draft of the bombing presentation. I have a few images and a powerpoint to show them with. I’m nervous.
Saw this booger on Saturday. I think he’s starting to realize that’s him on the screen.
Then I took his sister on a spoooooooky adventure. We went to Hail, Dark Aesthetics, which is a shop where you can buy tarot cards and fetal pigs and coffins and t-shirts. I feel like I was watching her become goth before my very eyes as she wandered around the shop looking at everything.
She was, of course, attracted to all the witchcraft and Satanism stuff. I tried to give her Baby’s First Lecture on Alistair Crowley where I told her that he had a really fun, bad reputation and had written a lot of books people are afraid of, but he was actually an annoying douche who used magic mostly to get to have sex with people.
“That sounds great,” she said.
So, I guess I’ll visit her in England when she buys Boleskin House and shacks up with a demon and runs a sex cult. Oops. Sorry, The Butcher. Turned your step-daughter into a Crowleyite by trying to warn her away from Crowley.
Then we went and wandered around the grounds of the old Masonic children’s home. Which doesn’t have a reputation for being haunted, but totally should.
Then we went and had hot chocolate.
Then I took her to the cemetery to learn to dowse. Y’all she sucked at finding dead people. I felt so bad for her. I would walk across a grave and the rods would cross. She’d walk across a grave and nothing.
Finally, she got a little movement in the rods and I said, “Well, let’s just walk where they’re pointing. And we walked and walked and circled way back to the far end of the cemetery and they crossed really hard.She looked up at me confused. I looked around at the obviously graveless thicket we were standing in front of.
And then I saw it: the fire hydrant.
I was like, “Ha, guess you’re a water witch.”
Which probably didn’t slow her decent into becoming Crowley’s avatar and spectral bride, or whatever happens to you when your aunt takes you for a spooky day.
Then I carded the shit out of the crappy fiber and mixed it with some merino and made this yarn:
But this is how much crappy fiber I still have, so there’s a lot of fixing left to do:
This is some of the bad purple and the bad yellow mixed with yellow and purple BFL and a little silk. It kind of looks like antique Mardi Gras, so I’m happy with the color.
But it spins like a bear. You have to do a really short draw to get all those tiny fibers (otherwise, you’d just be pulling out all the silk. And when you come to one of the second cuttings, it just makes a blob in the yarn that you can’t really pull thin.
But next up is some straight up BFL so that should be nice. It’s a broken purple I hand-dyed earlier this month.
I went to the fiber expert yesterday. She analyzed my fiber and said that the problem was that the staple was just way too short–maybe only an inch. She also showed me all the places the fiber was full of second cuttings, really short fibers caused by the shearer taking a second pass over the sheep in that spot.
She said that it could be spun, but it needed to be carded. Even still, it was going to be very fuzzy because of how short the staple is.
The easiest fix, she said, was to blend it with longer fibers.
Then she sold me a bunch of merino off her personal sheep and lent me her drum carder. Go forth and mix my crappy fiber with her merino.
Literally, all I want to do is stand around carding fiber all day. It’s so much fun.
And look at this yarn I got just from blending the crappy fiber with some longer fiber I’d already dyed.
I’m still not the greatest at spinning on the wheel yet, but I’m going to have a shit ton of fiber to practice with.
I bought something off Craig’s List for the first time in my life. I don’t even know what to say about it. There was a moment, last night, when I really started getting it, getting into the groove of it, and I felt something in my brain relax in a way I don’t think I have every relaxed before in my life.
This may be the best money I ever spent on myself.
I hung out with the nephew, too, and he somehow made my phone play Muddy Waters and my heart filled so full watching his delight. He wiggled. He kicked his feet. He clapped. He sang along with the harmonica.
There’s so much cool about watching a baby experience music to remind you about what is awesome about it. Del doesn’t have any preconceptions about what’s the most important part of a song. He just enjoys all the components of it. And it just reminds me that music is awesome.
Today I’m going to get help fixing the fiber that vexes me.
It’s a little like trying to make sense of the innards of a lava lamp. But basically, I think there are two philosophical questions driving Klansmen at this point: 1. Are you willing to do violence that might get people killed? 2. Are you only pro-segregation and anti-black (in which case Catholics and Jews could be Klan members) or are you pro-white protestant (in which case, they can’t)? Groups break up and reconfigure based on the answers to those questions at any given moment.
As a side note, the Jewish Klansman appears to have been the Bigfoot of the Klan. You see people claiming they knew someone who had seen one and maybe you can’t rule out all the claims, but no one has conclusive proof. Plus, and not kidding here, this Jewish Klansman was said to have been either in south Georgia or south Alabama, down in the swamps.
That a skunk ape and the elusive Jewish Klansman have the same home is hilarious to me.
I found a sheep farmer west of town. On Sunday I’m going to bring all this shit to her and she’s going to look at it. Hopefully, it just needs to be run through a drum carder, but she’s going to help me end up with something I like and want to spin.
Two pounds of wool I hate. It makes me sick to think of it.
So, like I said, as it came out of the package, it was a very uniform, but cool-tone brown. I wanted it to be a little warmer and not so solid in coloring, so I gave it some red, yellow, and orange highlights.
And then I still had the problem of the relatively short staple length. But Rivikah made me feel brave, so I stuck some silk to it. You can see the results of my silk-sticking experiments here. Some places have a lot more silk (it’s the blue, shiny stuff) and some places have a lot less, but there it is.
Silk is really weird to spin and I wouldn’t say that I’m very good at drafting it with the wool, but I’m practicing.
As for the other fiber, there was so much dirt–literally dirt–at the bottom of my bucket after washing the first batch. I can’t even tell you. But the other thing is that it’s just a huge amount of fiber. Like, whoa, I didn’t pay enough attention to the description. I’ll probably overdye some of it. So, that’s nice to find I have fiber to dye. I’ll probably do like I did with the Manx Loaghtan here and dye it different shades of the colors it already is. So, instead of one yellow, I’ll give myself four or five different yellows.
So, there’s a plan. An extension of yesterday’s “What the fuck, fiber?!” plan.
So, I got this fiber on sale for $5 a piece. I thought, “What a great deal!” It’s normally three times that and it’ll be fun to play around with.” And it’s my yarn boyfriend, BFL.
I… I don’t know what I expected. But when I opened it up yesterday to do said actually playing around with it, it was full of dander and plant stuff. Plant stuff doesn’t really bother me. It’s a sheep. But the dander seemed weird considering this has been dyed. I mean, sure, a little bit can make its way a long way in the process, but this is a ton. If you soaked the fiber to get it wet to dye, you’d think most of it would have floated away.
Also, it’s really coarse, at least compared to the other BFL I have, and the fibers aren’t very parallel. If I had a drum carder, I’d just run it through and not worry about it, but I’m trying not to invest hundreds of dollars in a hobby I’ve had for four weeks.
I’m pissed. Basically I’m pissed because I don’t know if I have the skills to make this usable to me. My plan–and please holler if you have a better one–is to wash everything in a long, soaking, soapy bath, like just give each length of roving a huge amount of room to float around and let loose any dirt and crap.
Oh, yeah, because this is what the water looked like as I started my trial of this plan:
Again, how could you have dyed this fiber and it still be this dirty? It makes no sense to me. You have to get the fiber wet to dye it. You have to rinse the fiber when you’re done dying it. In most dying methods, it sits in really hot water for at least ten minutes. How could this possibly be the fourth time this fiber has touched water? I’m not even accusing anyone of wrong doing.
The fiber is dyed and the dye job is uniform and nice, so it clearly must have happened. This is more like a physics issue.
Okay, anyway, back to my plan. Everything gets a long, long bath and then a good drying. Then I’m going to pull everything through a house key, like some rudimentary dizz, to encourage more of the fibers to lay parallel. They’re fairly parallel now, but I would like to encourage more.
And then I’m never going to buy this again, no matter how good the sale.