Manx Loaghtan

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.

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This is My Displeased Face

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.

Opposition

Okay, well, I started out intending to write this post, but I wrote about wool instead. I also intended to do more research for the book this weekend, but I mostly spun wool instead.

Here’s what I’m avoiding thinking about: there is an organized, long-standing, ongoing, highly-influential, white separatist opposition movement in this country.

Racism isn’t just some bad habit of white people we can educate ourselves out of. It’s not just an accidental structural remnant left over from worse times. It’s not even just your embarrassing family member’s terrible beliefs. I wouldn’t even call it a conspiracy, because it’s not a secret, not hidden. We can’t just sit around and wait for it to die off, because it’s not a superstition. It’s an organized, self-replicating movement.

That most of us do not see, at least, not the full scope of it. We see parts of it, some people see a lot of it, but you can’t say the truth–that we, as a nation, are in an ongoing civil war that started in 1776 and continues to this day that regularly flares into violence and once flared into a military war–without sounding like a conspiracy theorist nut job.

It’s a stark question: do you believe that everyone here, in this country, is your equal and deserves the same consideration as you or do you believe that equality is for those fit for it? Because the people who believe the former are in a vicious fight where people get hurt and die with the latter.

But also, and a part that I find the biggest mindfuck about it, is that the carrot dangled in front of white people in order to get us to ignore that the civil war is ongoing is the privilege of forgetting. White people are allowed to have myths instead of history or to have nothing, no past at all, to be born afresh every day with no stain of history, no dirt from yesterday.

But it’s the same thing–some people have to have their pasts and the actions of their fellow community members and what happened three states over fifty years ago scrutinized and constantly judged and others start every moment an innocent lamb. And a lot of us are scrambling for innocent lamb designation.

And part of that innocence is playing The Fool. Even when people get caught being active agents of this white separatist movement, even if you can show their long history of it, their ties to other white separatists, etc., they just act like they misspoke or, worse, they don’t defend themselves at all, but other folks rush forward to explain it away as a misstatement or them just being ignorant.

I don’t know how to explain it, because I don’t know of an analogy from another country that loses the nuance of what was going on in that other country.

But it’s making me feel sick to my stomach, over and over, to see this evil in plain sight and to watch how easily it gets people to pretend it’s not as large or central to things as it is.

Wool Review

Merino–not in love with it. Which, apparently, puts me at odds with 90% of the internet. I feel like I’ve finally gotten a feel for how to spin it, but I feel like, when you fuck up, it isn’t very forgiving. Like, if you don’t get enough twist in a length of fiber, the whole thing disintegrates into infinite pieces and I end up crying.

BFL–my fiber boyfriend. It’s got a nice, long staple. It’s soft enough for me. It spins pretty easily and, when you fuck up, it’s like “Fine, just stick me back together and make sure you get a decent twist in there this time.” I want to try dying it before I know if this is a long-term commitment, but so far, so good.

Peduncle silk–I got this in my Paradise Fibers monthly box. I mixed it and the other two fibers together and spun up a sample. It’s nice. It’s not wool, obviously, but I’m not changing the name of this post. Silk doesn’t have the same boing as wool, so it’s a little weird to spin it. What came in the box was a kind of silvery-gray. I overdyed mine with blue. It’s drying in the bathroom.

Manx Loaghtan–I guess you’re supposed to keep this naturally brown? But it’s kind of a cold-tone brown and I wanted something a little warmer, so I added some reds and oranges. It’s got a medium short fiber and, though that’s what I hate about Merino, for some reason, I guess because the Manx Loaghtan lacks pretension, I don’t mind it. Though we’ll see how I feel when I spin more of it. In dying it, though, it kind of reminded me of a friendly dog. It did just fine in the pot. I don’t see any felting issues. And it’s hanging in my bathroom urging me to do something nice and weird with it.

Kent Romney–They claim that this has a staple length, on average, of 3.15 inches. They also claim the Manx Loaghtan has a staple length of 3 inches. The Romney staple length is easily half again as long as the Loaghtan in real life. I’d believe something much more like 2.5 for the Loaghtan and 4 for the Romney, though I’m not getting up to measure anyone. I hippie dyed the Romney.

and I’ve spun up some of it.

It dyed up really beautifully, though I have to learn to keep my yellow under control, better. I feel like I had a mildly hard time spinning it, because it… I’m not sure how to explain it. On the one hand it’s not very grabby. It doesn’t just pull in loose fibers as it spins. You have to go grab them for it which lead me to some overly thin spots, which I’m worried are going to come apart on me when plying. But, on the other hand, when you put that yarn someplace, it sticks. Another weird thing about it is just how much fiber it wants for a single. Like, what I’m used to being able to draft out quite a bit with the BFL, that amount the Romney just wanted for a little bit.

I’m curious to see, after it rests and is plied, how much it’s going to expand, because there’s a lot of fiber.

Gaze in Wonder

I have changed my plans today from whatever I was going to do to “gaze in wonder at this yarn.”

I love everything about it. I love how purple it is. I love how curly it is. I’m really proud of how the strands are almost a uniform width.

I’m going to make myself an afghan. It’s going to take a long while, but I want to do it. I have a few afghans I’ve made, but they’re in closets. Nothing on display. I want to make something beautiful for myself.

I also just kind of want to wear this yarn around like a necklace.

Am I Messing Up?

I missed so much in the Hattie Cotton file when I first read through it, because I just didn’t have the context to make sense of it. And now I’m a little stressed about whether I should read through the other FBI files I have (and thought I was done with) to see what pops out there.

Writing a book is hard.

Well, writing this book is hard.

BFL

I bought myself a bunch of BFL (blue-faced Leicester), which is supposedly and apparently an easier yarn to learn to spin because the fibers are really long. I am enjoying the shit out of spinning it. These last two evenings, I didn’t even work on my afghan, because I’d just rather spend a couple of hours doing this.

A thing, though, that still irritates the piss out of me is that everything having to do with spinning is so expensive. How can this thing that used to be so ubiquitous–that multiple people in every household would have known how to do–cost so much to do it?

It’s like there’s a level of the craft missing. There are all these things that clearly are solutions for the time/labor intensive but cheap as fuck way to do things, but it’s not clear what those cheap things are/were. Like, I got a really, really great deal on some solid color fiber and I’d like to blend the four solid colors I got together in some ways, to give me more variety of yarn. A blending board costs $150.

Which… I mean, Jesus Christ. It’s a prickly cutting board. But, hell, it’s not like I know how to make a prickly cutting board, so more power to you, blending board makers of the universe.

But there’s something before this, clearly. Some thing spinners did or do that would make them exasperatedly say, fine, fuck it. I’ll shell out the $150.

But what is that?

I’ve watched a couple of tutorials on making “fauxlags,” which I think might suit my purposes. I wanted to test it out last night, but I don’t have a free flat workspace, because I have so much other shit started.

More Yarn

I bought myself a bunch of BFL, on the advice of spinners who said it’s easier to spin when you’re just starting out. But I wasn’t going to start it until I finished the merino. This weekend, I finished the merino.

It’s not great yarn, but it’s good yarn. And I love it.

Forward

I know I said this, but it remains true. I love how the Turkish spindle just spins forward forever. It really seems like, once you have a spindle that spins so long, the invention of the wheel is inevitable. Once you know how nice it is to have something you’ve set to spinning just continue to spin, you start to daydream about how nice it would be if you didn’t have to stop and put it all on the spindle.

I went to the grocery store yesterday, so today my to-do list is dishes, ply this merino, walk the dog, water the plants, and crochet some.

I feel pretty decadent.

Jail

A family member, who shall remain unidentified, is back in jail. I have an overwhelming urge to write him a letter in which I call him a dumbass.

I keep thinking that one of the problems I’m having with fiction is that we live in a fictional society. People just make shit up and then fight with each other into accepting the made up thing. “Me sticking my dick into this child doesn’t hurt her. She was asking for it.” “The government is on strike.” etc. And fucking Lamar all “we have to go along with what the President says.”

I believe fiction is powerful and I believe in the transformative power of stories. Imagine a new reality and you can strive for that new reality.

And, I guess, I feel like we’re in a period where this thing that’s so beloved to me–storytelling–is openly and mostly being used to harm people.

For my part, I know, I know, the well is always a little dirty. That everything we do has some slight stain of bullshit. That longing for some past, purer time is just longing for a time when you were more ignorant of the problems of the world.

But I still feel just fundamentally offended to find the stench all over this thing I love right here near me.

And yet, what a bullshit position–to be happy being oblivious to the taint.

But what does a fantasy story even look like in this era? “A girl has a dress with a pocket. In that pocket is a rock. Whenever she looks in her pocket, the rock is there, right where she put it. It doesn’t disappear. It doesn’t become anything different. It’s the only stable thing in the world.”

Or “A boy hums a tune for the joy of it. It doesn’t mean anything beyond joy, because he doesn’t know the meanings of most things yet. Someone complains that he is too loud and the boy is quieted by his mother.” That’s a sad one.

But I feel like the fantasy is that something can be real and meaningful and harmless. And I feel like that is a terrible indictment of us as a species.

Yarn

I made some yarn I like!

It’s not perfect, but the width is a lot more even and I’m getting a feel for how to spin the merino. Even plying with the Turkish spindle is so much easier that I’m just like, gah, why didn’t I start here?

And the tree afghan is coming along. I’m hoping to make some good progress on it this morning as I wait for my washing machine to arrive.

Turkish Spindle, The Affair Continues

On the advice of others, I’ve ordered some BFL to spin. Until it gets here, I’m just fucking around with the Merino I bought because everyone dyes Merino such pretty colors. I figure, it can’t hurt to practice. And I still like the Turkish spindle so damn much. It just spins down there forever, letting me work on my drafting skills.

I think my goal for this year is to start and finish some stories. The idea that I’m having such lovely success with JESUS CRAWDAD DEATH at a moment when I simply cannot bring myself to write fiction is… well, the humor of it isn’t lost on me.

Another goal is to learn how to ply without hating my life. I wonder if I should be setting the twist in the single before I ply it?

And my third goal, which is probably longer-term than just a year, is to get good enough at spinning that I can make myself an afghan. I signed up for a fiber of the month club, so I will get to try all kinds of new fibers and the afghan goal will give me something to do with those fibers in the end.

But I need to get back to fiction.

Oh, and here’s how the afghan of trees is coming!

I didn’t keep good track of what was what, but I believe what we’re looking at, from the bottom up is acorn (the triangle), red Kool-aid and food coloring (the bottom two trapazoids), second or third exhaust walnut in the first square, osage orange and walnut in the second set of trapazoids, and walnut in the top square.

I’m not a big fan of browns, but there’s something really nice about these colors. I am glad I threw in the red, though.

I’m Not Even Going to Bother to Pretend Otherwise

Today I go back to work and everyone goes home and thank god. Jesus Christ, I don’t know what I’m doing or why I’m tolerating this bullshit.

They have their own issues, of course, but mine are why I can’t assert myself when I’m with them and that I just fall into old self-destructive thought patterns.

And the worst part about having such a long-running blog is that I can see this is just the same old bullshit. I haven’t progressed in any way. I haven’t found ways of dealing with them that make my life any easier.

I just batten the hatches and try to make it through the storm.

There has got to be a better way.

It Continues

My dad insisted I call the plumber right away when he decided he didn’t like how my bathtub was draining. I tried to refuse, because it just drains slow, always has, but then my washing machine line sprung a leak.

Because, I’m sure, the house was finally rejecting this shitty ass washing machine. But anyway, I called the plumber on Friday.

Because he’s awesome, he sent a kid out today. Right now.

And I have, apparently, messed up the whole morning by having the plumber come at an inconvenient time.

Insert eye-roll here.

The hardest part about it is that all the shittiness I feel manifests itself in me feeling like I’m gross. Like my body is so disgusting and that me being out in public is some kind of freak show spectacle. Like I am grossing people out by being where they can see me.

So, it’s like, I have to steel myself to run this emotional marathon with my people and do so while my mind tells me that I am imposing on the world by being a part of it, so maybe I should just find a way to be all kinds of smaller and less present and easier to stand.

It really makes me mad how my brain, when I need it to be the strongest and most on my side, is like “yep, we suck. Suck, suck, suck.”

Turkish Spindle, My Love

  1. It spins forward forever. There’s no race against the moment it starts to spin backwards.
  2. Making a half hitch is super easy, in spite of my initial misgivings.
  3. Oh, how I love that you can just come up anywhere; you don’t have to flail around looking for the little notch.

But also, also, this is some Falkland top that came with the spindle and it is so much easier than the fucking Merino. Has some of my anger at spinning been because of a crap random choice of fiber to start with?

Deep Breaths

I am kind of surviving this visit with my parents. Every morning I tell myself that there’s Xanax if I need it and every evening I don’t take a Xanax, I tell myself I’m winning.

Winning what, I’m not sure.

Apparently a central conceit of The Meg is that Jason Statham is a drunk. With a six pack. And yet, all the YouTube videos about what’s wrong with The Meg neglect to mention that, if you spend five years drunk in Thailand, you’re not going to have a torso like a god.

Anyway, I still think the best Jason Statham movie is Death Race. Kill the wife off early. Give him a director that understands that the gaze in a Jason Statham movie is on Jason Statham. Gratuitous Statham nudity. A gay subtext that is so in your face one wonders if it counts as subtext. Violence. Entertaining as fuck. Perfection.

But the most Jason Stathamy thing to every happen in a movie (or series of movies) has to be in the Fast And Furious franchise where Jason Statham murders a main character and half a hospital and yet, because of his willingness to save a baby, becomes a good guy. Only Jason Statham can make shit like that work.

Jason Statham would also fight my parents and win. I keep that in mind.

The Chattanooga Boy(s)

The guy working on the Mattie Green case down in Chattanooga sent me the one mention of the case in FBI files. It’s Dixie Knights leader, Jack Brown, bragging about the killing. In the file, they mention the names of a few Dixie Knights.

I spent some time looking the ones I didn’t know up. Stoner had a guy in Chattanooga he liked to use for bombings. Sometimes the FBI files mention two Chattanooga guys. But what we know, as well as we can know it, is that this Chattanooga guy was young and his uncle was in the Klan and he may have been in the military.

But the other thing we know is that the terror cell inside the Chattanooga division of the Dixie Knights was small. There might have been 100 members of the Dixie Knights but only maybe a dozen who knew about and plotted activities where folks might die.

And these folks, as far as I can tell, never squealed on each other.

Part of the reason is that the Dixie Knights in Chattanooga were a family affair. There were two Brown brothers and a son running the show. But there were also other family members.

Thanks to the FBI file, I learned of a family member also deeply involved, who had two sons–one of whom was a chemistry honor student at UTC and the other of whom was in the military.

If anyone was going to be entrusted with bombings and who would have the know-how and who would be protected… it’s one of them.

Merry Little Christmas

I woke up this morning feeling blue. I then spent a while interrogating what I was so bummed about. And there’s nothing. Nothing’s wrong.

So, then, this idea popped into my head that maybe I just needed to feel sad, for reasons I couldn’t articulate and that it wasn’t hurting anyone if I wanted to mope around.

And, you know, I almost instantly felt better.

I spent yesterday with the Butcher’s family. The Butcher made roast beef for lunch and we exchanged presents–I got a Turkish spindle!–and watched both Crank movies. They remain delightfully terrible.

Then I spent the evening with friends. And there was a history adventure!

And today I’m going to take the dog for a walk and feel my feelings.

I remain, as ever, very grateful for you guys. Your support throughout the years has meant the world to me. It’s literally changed my life. And you folks, who read or have read or will read this are some of the best things in it.

Copper Coming Along

I’ve started putting the afghan together. I’m loving the green seam so much. It’s just a fun piece to look at. There’s always something fun going on in the yarn or in the construction of the piece.

And it feels really good to take an idea from thought–whoa, that pattern is beautiful. I wonder how it would look if it were copper?–to trying to come up with yarns that looked to me like copper weathering–to seeing it all come together.

It just pleases me so much.

When a God Spins

One of the reasons I took up spinning was that I felt a religious imperative to do so after this year’s nine nights. Spinning and weaving gods are all over, in so many cultures. And yet, I haven’t ever read a good consideration of why it’s so important that we know who the fiber artists in any pantheon are or what it might say about people’s theology and understanding of how the sacred works and how fate works for fate to be something that’s spun and then woven.

I have been thinking about it, though. I’m not claiming my thoughts are coherent or right, but here are some of them.

First, yarn is an energy storage system. I hadn’t ever realized what I was looking at before, because my yarns have always, before now, been factory-made and stabilized before I got them, so I wasn’t ever forced to think about it. But yarn is an energy storage system. You take fibers and you twist them and, in the twisting, you put energy into the yarn that you can later access (even if “later” is just the two second in the future in which the twist will climb up the freshly-drafted fiber).

But you can also see this by tying a weight of any sort to the end of any string and setting that weight to spinning. At some point, enough energy builds up in the twisted yarn that the yarn can set the weight spinning in the other direction.

So, when you’re spinning yarn, you’re putting energy into fiber by twisting it and then transforming it into something new.

What, then, are we being told when we’re told that the Norns spin the fates of people? Are we, then, the medium the energy/fate is being twisted into?

I tend to dwell a lot on what happens after we die. But, if we look at it this way, nothing happens. We just untwist and go back to our component parts. Without the energy of the twist, there’s no yarn. There’s just fiber. Without the energy of fate, there’s just this pile of carbon.

Except that spinners are constantly reusing old fiber. And, if not spinners, birds pluck fiber up and put it in nests.

I don’t know. I think it suggests a varied and impossible to guess at afterlife.

I keep thinking how male gods, especially God, have these rich philosophical lives. They compose and recite poetry. They argue theology with prophets. They write books.

And we’re accustomed to viewing female gods only through the stories of those male gods.

What do female gods think about the nature of the universe? How do they understand how things work? What does their sacred text we should set our minds to contemplating look like?

I Hate Spinning

The wrap I dyed and spun and crocheted.

I can’t tell if I have it like “am done with it” hate it or “it’s hard and I suck at it but I will persevere” hate it, but after last night’s fiasco, spinning and I are on a break.

But I’m still chugging along on the copper afghan. All my octagons are done and now I’m working on squares and trapezoids. I’m really pleased with this. Each motif, on its own is not exactly pretty, but when I lay them out and I look at a handful of pennies, it’s so fucking satisfying.

Part of the thing is that, when you’re working on an individual piece, you focus on the part that has the most color, because that’s what you spend the longest working on. But your eye is always going to go to the smallest bits and the larger bits become the background. So, as much as this is a pink/brown afghan, your eye is drawn to the blues.

I hope I’ll be able to start putting this together this weekend, but that may be optimistic, considering the state of my kitchen and bathroom.

Superstitions

I don’t take a daily multivitamin because I’m convinced they make me sick. As irrational as I know this is, I believe it. I can read articles. I can talk to my doctor. It doesn’t matter. I believe that the multivitamin sends some signal to my immune system that it doesn’t have to try as hard as usual and then, bam, I’m sick.

The doctor told me I need to start taking a multivitamin with iron, because I’m slightly anemic. So, I went to the store, read labels until I found one that listed iron. I started taking it.

And…

Yep. I’m sick.

The thing that irritates me about how my mind works, though, is that my co-worker was sick and her son had an ear infection. My other co-worker was sick. My nephew has a double ear infection. My mom and dad are just getting over being sick. And I’ve seen everyone this week.

Obviously… OBVIOUSLY… it’s just the season of people being sick.

But this morning, as I reached for the vitamin, my brain was like “No, don’t take it. You don’t want to be sick.” I pulled my hand away before I realized what I was doing. Then I was like “What the fuck? Take your vitamin.” And I did, but still!

I swear, if I have to go back to the therapist for the intrusive thought of “don’t take vitamins; they’re making you sick,” I’m going to be so fucking pissed.