I want you to know that I am Properly Supervised as I write today’s post.
Let’s do some crafty updates!
Progress has been made on the lining of the second mitten.
Someone in the comments a couple of days back said they wanted to know how to knit a lining for a mitten. Anyone else interested in this? I’d be happy to do a little tutorial if there is interest. Let me know in the comments!
It’s working! It’s working! Instead of just nudging the weft into place, I’m taking the edge of the belt shuttle and firmly pushing it as far as it will go. I didn’t do this before, as I was worried that it would produce a weft-faced fabric, but it’s working! There’s not enough warp left on the loom to make an entire strap, so I’m just going to weave it until it’s done and save it for something else. I’ll put a new warp on and have myself a do-over. Good practice.
I am more than halfway through winding the warp. Since I am going to weave this on my floor loom, I’m using my warping board. And since it has been seven years since I used said warping board, and all I remember from Back Then is that warping often was a nightmare, I bought myself a copy of Peggy Osterkamp’s new book, Weaving for Beginners: An Illustrated Guide.
This. Book. Is. Da. Bomb. Step-by-step instructions on warping (back to front AND front to back) and all aspects of weaving (from rigid heddle to multishaft), tips, illustrations, oh my goodness. If you don’t have a weaving teacher near you, this is the next best thing. (Videos are good, but I like having something I can double-check as I do each step.) And remember that I write/edit knitting instructions for a living. I’m very picky about instruction books. This one gets the full 5 Tiaras from me.
Baby Surprise Jacket
I’ve never knitted one of these iconic sweaters before. But one of Nicholas’ grad students just had a baby boy, and I knit him a hat, and there was yarn left over, so of course I had to go stash-diving to find another colour that matched, and then I realized it was really fun to knit a potato chip. Which is what a Baby Surprise Jacket is until you sew it up: a knitted potato chip. Elizabeth Zimmermann was a genius. (How did she figure this out? HOW?!?)
I ran out of the handspun silk sewing thread I am using, so I had to stop stitching to spin some more.
Yes, I said handspun sewing thread. I know, am completely daft. But here I am, sitting here with handwoven fabric woven out of ONLY handspun yarns from 80 people…you think I’m going to use cotton polyester thread from FabricLand on this? No way. Handspun silk sewing thread.
Spinning sewing thread is a personal challenge for me. When you spin to knit, it’s really OK if the handspun has some inconsistencies in it; even lumps and bumps will more or less be hidden in the knitted stitches. When you spin to weave, you just have to make sure the yarn is smooth enough not to catch in the heddles or the reed, if you are using it as warp. (If you are using your handspun as weft, you can pretty much spin any way you want.)
Spinning sewing thread is spinning for OCD psycho bitches, I’ve decided. (Note that I am spinning sewing thread for hand sewing. I’m not psycho bitch enough to spin thread to use in a machine.) Your spinning has to be absolutely smooth, or it will get stuck as it pulls through the fabric. Your spinning has to be strong, or it will break under the pressure of being part of a seam, especially if the seam is what I call a “load-bearing” seam, like at the shoulders, or elbows, where the seam is going to be stressed. Your spinning has to be consistent, because if it is not, then it is easily abraded as you sew.
I’m using two-ply thread, as sort of an insurance policy. I just don’t trust my singles to be strong enough. The first seam I did, with my first two-ply, was a load-bearing seam, and a long one. I stitched it TWICE, tiny wee little stitches. The fabric is very thick, too thick to do the in-and-out several-stitches-at-a-time-on-the-needle trick I learned from hand-quilting. Each stitch is done in two pokes: Down-poke. Up-poke. All the stitches. Two pokes each.
I decided after that first seam I would not be stitching the seams twice anymore. I want the recipient to get it whilst she is still living.
Nicholas: Why aren’t you using your new photography lighting set-up to take your blog pictures?
Me: Because if I set up that lightbox and the lights right now, we wouldn’t have a living room anymore. Plus, I’m afraid of losing one of the cats in there.
Musings on Self-Compassion
I wrote the first part of this as a post on Ravelry, and it got such interesting responses that I thought I’d post it here and see what you-all thought on the subject.
I had to go off of one of my meds (it’s not supposed to be long-term) and the result is rebound insomnia with a vengence. I’m sleeping only about 3 hrs a night, and wow. Brain liquification in progress.
This has been going on for about a week. It’s really easy to get down on myself, start thinking it’s somehow my fault, and be hard on myself for not being as alert and productive as I want to be. I just realized that if I mentally approach this in the same way as if I were low-level ill, like a sinus infection or something, that helps take the self-criticism out of the loop. It’s a more compassionate approach, and one I would take if it were someone else. Funny how hard it is to turn compassion so that it faces inwards.
Giving myself permission to be human, and have a body that doesn’t always function perfectly is a hard lesson for me. We have this attitude in Western culture that one can control one’s health, that if you Do All The Things, eat right, take the right herbs, exercise the way Some Tells You To (have you noticed that the govt guidelines for this keep changing/increasing? Anyone ever wonder if the gym and exercise industry lobbies have anything to do with that or I am just being a paranoid leftist again?), and be the perfect little First World Person, then you will be healthy and thin and whatnot.
That Western urge to Be In Control…it’s very insidious and when the illusion of control falls apart, wow. The self-recriminations are a bitch.
That’s the part I posted on Ravelry earlier today. Here are some additional thoughts.
My friend Gwen responded with a post about the connection between morality and illness. HOOBOY. As someone who has only recently been coming to terms with a chronic illness, I’m learning this connection the hard way. The thing is, though: Despite all the things that Western culture tries to tell us, ultimately, some things are out of our control. (Yes, I suppose if I were Totally Enlightened And A Yogi I wouldn’t be disabled and I would thin and beautiful and have long blonde hair and be a movie star. OK…so why are Beautiful People so often deeply unhappy? Yeah. Weird, ain’t it?)
The amount of guilt and the shame our culture fosters in us when we fail to be able to control our physical being is gobsmacking.
Well, let’s just stop there. What do you think? Compassion, morality, self-recriminations when one cannot possibly live up to society’s benchmark of physical health and perfection…Discuss.
Today’s Random Good
A high school in Etobicoke (about 45 minutes from me) has a lunchtime knitting group that is helping kids to make friends and build coping skills in a big city environment.