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The great unravelling project

This is a little something I’ve been working on for a few months now. I have a lot of handknits in my drawer that I no longer wear. I did a corking good job of them, but I’ve changed shape and changed taste and they no longer serve their purpose. So I’ve decided to unravel them and reclaim the yarn—it’s Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic, so it still looks as springy and bright as the day the order arrived.

(I love the way the above paragraph makes it sound like one day I just opened my drawer and said, coolly, “Oh, I see I have some unworn sweaters: I predict I won’t wear them again in the future, so I’ll reclaim the yarn like the practical person I am.” In that vision, nobody agonised for months about what it meant to dissolve an otherwise perfectly fine creation simply out of whim and whether it would hurt the sweaters’ feelings.)

My Origami cardigan, in the first stage of being unravelled: the seams are unpicked but the unravelling hasn't begun.
Present status: in bits. Future status: unknown.

First up: my Paper Crane cardigan. It’s a beauty, and a great display for this yarn, but the fit is a bit of a shocker. My bad: I should have paid more attention to the difference in size between my sleeves and my arms. (I have this trouble with store-bought clothes, too. I don’t think I have big arms, but the clothing industry seems to disagree?) The yarn in this is gorgeous, but I haven’t the faintest idea what to make with it. It needs a relatively plain stitch pattern to let the patterning of the colours sing, but beyond that I’m not sure. Maybe a tunic or a cardigan with set-in sleeves (that fit)? It would make a fantastic shawl, but I don’t see myself in shawls.

A stack of three handknit sweaters to be unravelled and repurposed.
Three to become one-ish?

Second up: this stack. From the bottom, that’s a Coffee Tunic, a Gytha, and a Corona. All absolute milestone pieces that I simply never wear anymore. But there’s a lot of yarn locked up in this tower. The reason I’ve listed them as one project is because I have some very exciting colourwork plans for this stack. I think I can make something a bit stunning. I’m thinking of a pullover in all-over colourwork, and it’s a beauty. Wish me luck.

My scarf to be unravelled, draped over the back of a chair, with the curling and pilling inherent in the pattern and yarn evident.
Surprisingly dramatic photo, this.

Third: This scarf. Massively too big, it’s too thick to stay wrapped around my neck. A big problem is the curling of the stitch pattern, which I should have seen coming a mile away (but such is the denial of the infatuated knitter). It curls up into a thick tube that I then have to spend the whole day tossing back over my shoulder. Not on. I’ve got no record of what yarn this is, except that it’s a heavenly soft singles and tears came to my eyes when I found it in the yarn store (it had been a trying day). I need to be careful as I unravel it: it’s fairly strong for a singles, but it pills like a mofo (you can see in the picture above, it’s already pretty dang pilly and I have only worn it about three times) and unravelling is not going to help that. Not sure what this will be reincarnated as. A vest? A cowl? Leg warmers?

I’ve kicked off the great unravelling with my most daunting challenge of all: my hair.

I’ve had dreadlocks since March 2011 (so that’s coming up to eight years, for those counting along at home). Over the past six (okay, twelve) months, I’ve been increasingly aware of the disadvantages of them: that’s usually a sign that it’s time for a change. I didn’t want another pixie cut (that’s what I rocked for the umpteen years leading up to the dreads), so I thought I’d give combing out a go.

Dudes, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had just over forty locks, most of them to my waist and some a bit longer. The first one I tried unravelling while dry and full-length. It took about two hours. After a bit more googling, M and I agreed the first step was to cut them all off at shoulder height, which he nobly undertook for me. This felt like a big deal, but was also pretty exhilarating. Most of the locks are so long because as hair breaks and falls out, it remains locked in: so the bottom third or so of the dreadlocks would have simply combed out, not added to the finished length.

Then we rubbed every one with a fistful of coconut oil and I got back to it. With each one, I followed the same process: rub another round of oil in, and then use a DPN to flick open the end and start detangling the knots, drawing the strands back through the knots to undo them. It took days. Literally days. I would start at about 8:30, work until lunch, and then pick up after lunch and keep going until 5:00. Then I’d do a bit more after dinner. For four days. My hands ached. My back and shoulders ached. Each night, I’d rub more oil in and sleep in a head towel (or attempt to). I was so goddamn oily by the end. Everything in the house was oily. I had to wash all the clothes and towels I used separately, in extra hot water; I had to wash my pillowcases three times; I had to clean every surface I touched during that four-day period. I have watched all of The Private Life of Plants and Life in the Undergrowth (God bless David Attenborough and all his works) and listened to every podcast within reach. The fortitude it took to get out of bed on the final Sunday and tend to the last two bloody dreadlocks was more than I hope to ever need again.

I have two DPNs that may never be the same, but goddamit I have shoulder-length hair that is beautiful, brown and astonishingly healthy for what it’s been through. This has worked out well! Let the great unravelling bonanza begin!

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The shocking sequel

In my last thrilling post, we explored the highs and lows of a project that teased and twisted with its sneaky sizing issues.

After completely unravelling and starting over with the next size down (only to realise that, due to the nature of the raglan top-down pattern, I need have only unravelled six rows), I finished the next size down and…baum-BOW. Still too big, darn it.

So I unravelled—this time, having already sipped the bitter cup of experience, I only unravelled six rows. Hah! Clever clogs bethini!

…only to learn that the difference between this size and the next down was a bit more than that, and had to unravel the whole thing.

We are now on our third cast on. We have already had to unravel four rows because of the classic knitting error that means I failed to discern the difference between “Do it four times more” versus “Do it four times”. (If you’re going to stuff up, might as well rock the classics, eh?) (Nobody need point out that this is the third time I’ve worked this pattern and so have no business making this mistake, thankyouverymuch.)

I have a theory. I think this pattern is throwing hissy fits. Word gets around, you see, and, well—I’ve been doing something on the side. Something that maybe my current project—hell, my whole freakin’ stash cupboard—is angry with me about.


A top-down view of my new spinning wheel, an Ashford Joy 2, double treadle model.
Pedallin’ it all over the place, baby.

That right there is my birthday present to myself: an Ashford Joy 2, a beautiful spinning wheel. (Thank you, we’re very happy.)

It’s tremendous fun and I’m having an absolute smash with it—but if you were, say, a beloved but neglected cardigan, or a stash cupboard already struggling to keep its doors shut, wouldn’t you be a bit jealous too?

A bobbin full of blue handspun yarn, spun on my new spinning wheel.
I ain’t sorry.

It’s going to be okay—me and the cardie, we’re going through a bit of a rough patch, but we’ll figure it out. We always do.

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Whee

It’s one of my favourite days of the year! It’s New Year’s Day! Happy 2019 everyone!

My 2018 wasn’t terrible—I know it was for a lot of people, but I am lucky to be not one of them. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog but in 2017 I got a diagnosis (after about ten months of biopsies, blood tests and being prodded with a pencil by doctors saying “hmmmm”) of sarcoidosis. Mine’s a very mild and benign version of the pesky disease, so we (me and my million doctors) haven’t moved beyond the ‘active watching’ protocol.

The kicker for me was the level of fatigue. Oy vey: I was getting through the day and changing into my pyjamas at exactly 5:15 pm and falling to the couch with an audible crash. Going out at all felt
heavy and hard, staying out past 9:00 pm meant the next day would be a waste, and the prospect of travel seemed so profoundly unappealing that I felt like I’d had a bit of a personality transplant.

So 2018 was a good year in that I finally got back on top of things. Maybe it’s the disease’s cycle of action and remission, or maybe the gargantuan doses of fish oil I’m taking have done the trick (don’t @ me), but the last six months have seen me with way more pep, verve, vim, kick and fzzt than I’ve had for a bit. I’ll toast 2018 just for that.

Not sure what to look forward to in 2019, apart from everything! We have some vague plans that may solidify into fun adventures, and I have some ambitions that may firm up into actual things I actually do, for actual. But I’m not going to put my name to anything yet: right now, I’m enjoying the delicate sense of possibility that this time of year always brings me. I’ve been enjoying my New Year’s Day tradition of doing a little bit of everything I want to do a lot of this year—think of it like stitching an embroidery sampler of the year’s fun. (Way to go with the relatable metaphors there, bethini.) So far I’ve done some yoga and music practice, picked berries, gardened and been for a walk, had a nice bath and blogged (hello!). On the agenda for the afternoon: clarinet practice and allllll the fibrey goodness of knitting, spinning, spindling and plying (I have a plying technique I want to learn this afternoon).

May your 2019 be abundant, unexpectedly fun, cheerful and uplifting. May the problems you meet melt away before your beaming eyes, and may conflict evaporate under your sunny demeanour.

Have a good one, dudes!

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Aaaand scene.

Imagine my pride in putting aside my hunch and gut feeling in favour of science. Diligent swatching and measuring and hmmming over the pattern told me that my new cardigan should be cast on in size medium, not small, as is my instinct.

Imagine my disgust when, after a week of error-free work, I separate the sleeves off the body and try it on, only to discover it’s woefully too big. Not even a borderline too big, but an out-and-out, these-sleeves-gonna-catch-the-breeze order of too big.

Imagine my sense of maturity as I diligently slide the needles out and unravel to the start, so as to cast on the size small—perhaps also imagine my sense of smugness, having my original gut feeling confirmed.

Imagine then, my despair, upon rereading the pattern and discovering that I only needed to unravel the last ten rows to turn my size M into a size S.

That’s some Greek tragedy-level shit right there.

fin, weeping

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It’s not just me and don’t pretend it is

So we’ve hit that time of the year, huh? November’s coming—you can hear it crunching down the driveway in its sturdy shoes—and that means the chances of this being the year you’ll Do The Thing are drawing shut like the mouth of the toddler you’re trying to spoon-feed.

I have two responses to this annual feeling of impending conclusion: the first is what I think of as the old French guy strategy—a relaxed, single-shoulder shrug, a ‘Euh, c’est la vie, non?’ and another glass of lunchtime wine in the sun. A useful and wholesome (if stereotypical) strategy and one I heartily endorse. The second is what can only be described as ‘I’m not scared of dying, YOU are’ and it’s where I throw myself into a series of ambitious goals.

Guess which one I’m doing this year? If you’re thinking it’s the one that involves signing up for NaNoWriMo, setting myself reading targets, and planning out the next four knitting projects, well, look at you, clever clogs.

Let’s go through these one by one, shall we? (Yep, back on the lists.)

NaNoWriMo: it’s been a few years since I did it, and earlier this year I had an idea for a novel that’s been going mouldy in my head ever since. Despite my having “learned” a while ago that the only way to get more ideas is to get rid of the ones you’ve got, I nonetheless hoard them and fear I’ll never get another—while simultaneously fearing this one isn’t actually any good. So NaNo seemed like a good way of frog-marching myself up to the Reality Wagon and…look, I don’t know where this metaphor is supposed to go. Something about facing my ideas, writing them down, and admitting the possibility that they suck but that it’s okay. I guess that’s not so much a metaphor as it is the way things are. I should try writing. Clearly there’s poetry in my soul.

Reading: it will surprise nobody that I am in possession of several books that not only have I not read, but that I have not immediate plans of reading. (It shouldn’t surprise you because (a) I’m a writerly type with a blog, (b) I like to knit, which suggests I like long-range planning, and (c) I’m a human and a lot of humans do this thing. It’s just statistically likely that I’d have a lotta books around the place.) I’ve decided to set myself the goal of finishing all the books I have acquired this year by the end of the year. This would seem moderate, but it’s only barely so. There are seven books left: one supremely technical, two long and dense (but funny and well-written, so), one emotionally challenging but rewarding (or so the reviews say), one cookbook, and the others action novels. There are roughly nine weeks left in this Year of our Dark Lord 2018, and there are seven books. There were eight, but I finished one earlier today. This seems like a tight goal for me, because, as I said, some of them are fairly dense reads. However, that hasn’t stopped me contemplating the fact that if I read all of them plus another acquired in a previous year, that will be a net win for the To-Be-Read pile.

Knitting: Oh, the knitting. I’m working my way through a sweater at the moment and it’s all I want. It’s supremely simple and satisfying and I’m really happy with it—but I am also nearing the end of it, and I can’t help but notice the absence of a black, drapey cotton spring/autumn cardigan in my wardrobe. You know the sort of thing—something you put on because you’re out having a picnic or on a boat or whatever beautiful people do, and there’s a slight chill to the purple evening air. Something to put over my casual yet glamorous tank-and-shorts combo, or my light summer dress as I walk through long grass at twilight (wtf). And I keep fondling all my sock yarns. And thinking about my handspun and how I really want to get it on my person. In short, there’s a lot of knitting to be done. I’d like to finish both this sweater and that cardigan by the end of the year—am I dreaming too big or too small or both?

There’s a lot of people who are already nipple-deep in end-of-year festivity planning and they’re bugging their eyes at me going ‘SERIOUSLY? You want CHALLENGE? In November??’ and to them I say ‘Have a cup of tea, lovey, and stop yelling at me.’ I like challenge, I like meeting deadlines, and I’m dashed good at both, so why not self-impose and see if I implode? There are also those who sigh and shake their heads at me and ask if I’m trying to prove something and what is it I’m really running from? And I’m supposed to stammer, bite my lip and say ‘I dunno man…I guess in a way, I’m just running from myself…’ And then they can get on with things and I can get back to whatever it is I do. Look, you can wave all the pop psychology at me that you like and ultimately I’m just going to say ‘eh, sure: fear of mortality or whatevs’ and keep on trucking. Let’s see what I can still wring out of the year!

Listless (or listful)

I’m completely convinced that if I just had the right list I’d be able to pull my life together into the shape I imagine I want and deserve. Every now and again, usually when I’m over-tired, over-committed, over-caffeinated or over-stretched in a general life sense, I try to make that list. It usually has things like “finish my French workbook” and “write a really good novel—a tour de force” and “get all the washing done”. Then I read over it and realise that I’m not doing all that today, and I get discouraged. You wouldn’t believe the number of pens and notepads I have right here in front of me, right now, just as part of the ambient clutter of my life, except you totally would believe it because you do it too. Admit it. If it’s not notepads and pens, it’s their digital equivalent. I see you.

Anyway, the greatest thing I ever did for my mental wellbeing was start writing ‘done’ lists. I try to avoid ‘to do’ lists now, but I will admit I will write a ‘reminders’ list. Things that, oh, you know, it would be great if I got around to doing, but they don’t have to be done, the world won’t end, etc. The best part about a ‘done’ list is that you look back at all the shiz you got up to over the day and you’re like “holy nuts, I’m busy!”, even when you don’t feel like you’ve achieved much. On bad days I include things like “cups of tea: 4” and “made bed”. Because sometimes my level of ability fluctuates and it’s nice to have a list that cheers you on accordingly. Watered the desk plants? Great job! Jot that motherfucker down! Wore pants? Kudos! That’s going straight to the list! Remembered to do your physio exercises? STAND BACK, LIST!

It’s taking all my willpower not to pepper this entry with lists. I wanted to write a list of things I never do lists of, and a list of things I compulsively do lists of, but in the end the whole thing got a bit to meta-listical and I had to go lie down. Plus, if I’m honest, there’s a lot of things that I don’t necessarily write lists of, but I record in a pretending-not-but-actually-is a list way—spreadsheets for everything but knitting; Ravelry for everything else. Sure, they’re more complex and involved, so at first glance you might not even realise they’re lists, but they are, my friend, and you’re in their tender grip.

Turn it around

Do y’all remember Knitty’s pattern Cheesylove? It was published in 2002, which tells you all you need to know about my ability to react to inspiration.

Anyway, after having it on my to-knit list for some fifteen years, last year I finally cast it on and dedicated myself to it with an impressive degree of monogamy (socks don’t count, I think we can all agree). I even used some of the deep stash: the black Merino Supreme that Cleckheaton discontinued a long long time ago.

The fact that this isn’t an FO report post should hint at something. Yep, the whole thing was a bit of a dud. As I knit, I was struck with how heavy it was. Well, I thought, at least the yarn is nice and soft: I can wear it with just a t-shirt underneath and it’ll be fine. I noted how long the sleeves were becoming. Well, I thought, they’ll shorten as they stretch around the arm. It’ll be fine. Of course, it wasn’t fine.

The jumper was small enough that I was encouraged to try it on, but large enough that it made me look like a loaf of bread with a teeny weeny head. “Are you going to unravel it and redo it?” Asked M, after the weeping and stomping had subsided. No. Absolutely not. I thought about it, but in the end decided I no longer wanted a Cheesylove.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. A pattern does not age, but a knitter does. What I loved when I first put Cheesylove on my to-knit list is no longer my jam. It’s to be expected when you take fifteen years to act on something: my tastes, knitting skills, and wardrobe have all changed.
  2. Bulky is as bulky does, and even if a ball band suggests it’s Aran-weight, if knitting at Aran gauge takes aching hands and bent needles then you’re forcing a bulky yarn to act as an Aran. And bulky yarns make bulky fabric. Bulky fabric does not flatter me.
  3. Sometimes companies discontinue yarns for a good reasons, not just blatant perversity. Merino Supreme has long been my darling, but I see now that it’s bulky, you only get like 3 metres of yarn per ball, and it pills like a mofo. Farewell, Merino Supreme, and don’t let the yarn cupboard door hit you on the way out.

Here’s how we responded to the whole situation:

  1. I will resolve to turn patterns around faster. When I see a pattern I want to knit, I’ll try to do so ASAP. This means less languishing in the queue, less putting things off, and more importantly, dedicating myself to knitting a thing instead of just doing more socks. (There will always be socks.)
  2. I will turn yarn around faster. When I see yarns I badly want to make something with, I’ll do it, instead of saving them for some as-yet uninvented perfect pattern. The sheep are always growing more wool, and the yarn companies are always coming up with new things, so there’s not much risk that I’ll never have anything so lovely again. Get it out there!
  3. I will stop dismissing things just because they’re hot right now, and acknowledge that I want to knit them immediately: this is to safeguard against the trap of only deciding to make something about five years after it’s fashionable and then wondering why it doesn’t look as cool on me as it did on everyone else. Current case: fades, speckles.
  4. Oh, and I’m going to stop knitting garments that are heavier than DK weight. I’m small, and I don’t have the curves to flesh out a heavy-weight jumper, so when I wear something heavy-weight, my head looks weirdly small and my body strangely mountainlike. Nothing quenches the creative ardour faster than realising you’ve laboured for two months on something that makes you look like mashed potatoes with a pea on top.

I am not, by nature, a spontaneous person. Those of you who think you’ve seen me do something spontaneous, trust me: whatever it was, I’ve mulled it over as a possibility for some time. Probably months, possibly years. I’m working to improve this. I’m also chronically indecisive, which doesn’t help matters. These aren’t necessarily bad traits, but they do come with trade-offs: you miss out on stuff while you’re dithering!

In light of all this, I bought a LOT of yarn and three new patterns. It only took me three days to choose the colours, too. It’s going to be amazing.

 

 

 

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Of mice and me

Content warning: This post contains discussions of small dead critters my cat brings in.

Brown Cat is no athlete. She’s short of leg, plump of pudding, and square of bottom. When we play games, she runs after her string panting like an overweight toddler. So colour me astonished when one morning, some fifteen months after their adoption, I awoke to find a stiff dead rat on my office floor. We had been out late the previous night and noticed nothing wrong, but first thing in the morning: burial duty.

A few weeks later, we had friends over for dinner and a yowling announced the entry of a cat. “That doesn’t sound like one of mine.” I said to my friends, assuming that one of the neighbours’ cats had made its way in for a sneaky treat. (Again.) It was Brown: this time the rat was not yet stiff, but was definitely dead. And we learned that Brown has a tell—a very peculiar trio of meows that announce her triumph and return.

Shortly after that, we were awoken early one morning to the sound of running feet. “How nice,” I thought, laying in bed at FIVE IN THE MORNING, “that they’re playing together for so long without fighting.” M arose with the dual intention of shouting at the noisemakers and making a cup of tea. Brown looked up, made her triumphant meow, and lifted her foot off a mouse that immediately ran under the couch. “Heck,” said Brown. It took us some twenty minutes of trying to figure out how to lift up the couch to catch the mouse without letting Brown run under it and risk squishification (all the while Brown flailing her arms under the couch trying to reach the mouse) before we realised the mouse had snuck out and was crouched in the far corner of the room. It was then a simple matter of popping it in a container and transferring it outside—except it was so very much still alive that it kept trying to leap out of the container and I had a bit of a job just getting it outdoors.

Just a couple of days later, we were awoken in the middle of the night to the triumphant meow. “Oh no.” Said M. We switched on the bedroom light and Brown immediately lost her mouse, which vanished behind the bedside dresser. Shutting Brown out of the room, where she scratched and yowled, we spent fifteen minutes unsuccessfully pursuing and eventually losing the mouse. We reluctantly let Brown back in and she found it (after a while), and we were able to catch and evict once again.

We started closing the cat flap overnight. Now, Brown has many sterling qualities, but figuring out cat flaps is not one of them. She can exit; she cannot enter. In closing the cat flat, we reasoned, two things could happen: she would have to meow at the door, thus forcing us to vet what she was attempting to bring in; or she would figure out the cat flap and simply keep bringing things in.

The grisliness of all this was getting to us, and we couldn’t work out why she was suddenly Master Hunter. The sound of a concrete jackhammering clued us in: the next-door neighbour was pulling down their old deck and turfing out a lot of mice and rat nests, showering our chubby enthusiast with ample opportunities. So at least this doesn’t appear to be the New Normal: it’s just taking advantage of the mouse harvest. That means the process should settle down soon.

In the meantime, we know she has a tell. The trio of howly meows that announce her victory and generosity is a unique event. On more than one occasion, we’ve ignored it only to discover something grim the next morning. So last night when we heard her tell, we both sprang out of bed and started switching on lights to find her and her treasure as soon as we could.

She wasn’t on the front step. She wasn’t in my study. She was, it turned out, snug in her bed, blinking confusedly in the light.

She talks in her sleep.

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MMXVIII

Hello and Happy New Year!

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time (hi Mum!), you’ll know that I love New Year’s. Christmas is cool, but I love waking up on New Year’s Day and feeling like there’s a fresh new year waiting for me. One full of wonder and potential; one I haven’t fucked up yet. It’s like the feeling you get when you open a brand new blank notebook, times a million. At the same time, I like looking back over the previous year and thinking about it, finding a way of looking at it that brings it into sense. I like to spend NYE cleaning up and making the house immaculate so that when I get up on NYD, I’ve maximised that feeling of freshness and newness. Then I spend NYD doing a little of all the things I want to do a lot of in the coming year: music, spinning, knitting, reading, writing, cooking, and this year, even travelling! Ah, New Year’s.

I don’t even care that it’s an entirely made-up concept—all human things are made up, once you get beyond the basic four Fs—I like it. I like knowing that a lot of other humans are doing a similar thing, too: they’re thinking about the year that was and the year that is to come, and we’re all secretly hoping this will be the year everything goes perfectly. We’ll all finally learn Portugese and write that dang novel, get fit, lose weight, become stylish and suddenly know how to cook. And we’ll all (well, most of us), do something entirely otherwise. Some people will have that year: they’ll zero in on something they’ve long wanted or worked towards. Some people will not have that year: they’ll have a year of disruptions, heart-breaking phone calls and white-knuckle medical appointments.

Then in twelve months’ time, an approximation of one orbit of the sun, we’ll all meet back here and compare notes about how it went. It won’t be at all what we expected, and nor should it be, because what kind of a story would that make? And then we’ll all toast the year that was, and take the wrapping off the next one and do it all again. I love it.

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Feel the felting, felt the feeling

Ever save something up for yourself, secure in the knowledge it’s going to be an unequivocal delight when you get around to it?

A braid of Corriedale top, prepared for spinning

Plums and Wine Corriedale tops

I’m calling it Plums and Wine. It’s a braid of Corriedale I bought from the local markets when they were having their fibre day. And damn, it was BEDLAM. You’d swear nobody had a chance to buy anything even slightly sheepy the rest of the year. It was kinda sucky. But this braid is so goldang pretty, I’ve been saving it. I promised myself I’d finish up all my other spinning before I started it.

And then I just started it anyway. Hah! Take that, me!

Ever save something up for yourself, sure you’re going to be delighted, and end up utterly disgusted with disappointment?

An undyed centre!

The pale secret at the heart of the braid!

As I began spinning, two things became apparent: the first is that the dye hasn’t penetrated to the heart of the braid. I was pretty smitten with the braid as it appeared, so I’m pretty disappointed to see that you end up with a lot less of the coloured fibre than you originally thought! The second thing is that it’s borderline felted. Yup. Somehow or another, the dyer has semi-felted the fibres into a dense, tangled mass. It’s kinda heartbreaking.

But I am nothing if not persistent. And I’m also downright indignant that some poor Corriedale sheep had to suffer the indignity of being sheared only to have their lovely fleece turned into a matted, poorly-dyed tube of felt! I have resolved to create something beautiful out of this, to restore justice to that poor sheep, wherever they are.

A sample of the spinning from Plums and Wine

Well I’ll be.

And to my astonishment, it’s coming out beautifully! I’ve had to figure out a sort of pre-drafting technique: instead of smoothly easing the fibres from the braid as I spin, I have to prep about a foot or so of fibre, tearing the semi-felt apart, untangling the fibres, thus making it easier to draft while spinning. It’s made a big difference to the single I’m producing. It’s consistent and fine, and the toothiness of the fibres has made it generally less slippery and less prone to breakage. The lack of dye in the heart of the braid creates a heathery, muted effect, and I must admit, I kinda like it!

Wherever that Corriedale sheep is, I hope it’s sleeping easier tonight, knowing that I’ve saved its fibre and brought it to beautiful fruition.

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