|24 July 2017||Posted by Ness under Life, Spinning|
When I finished my undergrad, I didn’t read for a year.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as my journey as a Master Spinner student is over. With a text-heavy major and minor, I was forever reading through all five years it took to get my degree (an extra year because I took work experience). When I was done, I was literally done with reading. I continued to buy books, but just never found myself sitting down to read them. This was very out of character for me. The earliest fights my sister and I had were because I wanted to read and she wanted to play. Books were my friends, my escape, and my parents still expect me to write the great Canadian novel someday (though they may be giving up on me as I get older!). So that I didn’t read for that one whole year was… huge.
Master Spinner is a six year program, one year longer than my undergrad, and in its own way just as heavy. I have been doing spinning homework of one form or another for over half a decade, and I don’t mind telling you that at some points over the last couple of years, I’ve wondered why I was putting myself through it, and sometimes I think I got through not so much on love of the craft, but on sheer willful determination and stubbornness. And in the same way as I bought and received books throughout my undergrad and after, I’ve been buying and receiving spinning fibre throughout all the years of my certificate.
But unlike reading, spinning is a physical skill. And despite being finished, I know I have so much more to learn and practice. So this year, I actually set out with a plan for Tour de Fleece.
I was going to get through a lot of fibre. Small Spinning Box samples on my Traddy, large Spinning Box samples on my Hansen, ridiculously huge Corriedale project on my Joy, and a random Polwarth/silk I pulled from the stash on my great-grandmother’s wheel. Did I expect to get it all done? If I’m honest with myself, no. But that wasn’t the point of the plan. The point was to not have to think about it, but to just spin.
My volume of output was hampered by traveling two weekends in a row, and temperatures breaking 30 C for a good part of the Tour (and my fibretorium is one of the warmest rooms in the house given its south face, two windows, and hardwood floors). But I am not displeased. Those nine skeins measure out at 452 grams, 1,707 yards total plied, and if you want to add in the singles yardage (taking into account pieces of the two large skeins on the right were spun before), that’s another 2,818 yards, for a total of 4,525 yards that I spun over 23 days.
(As an aside, while I know why we all measure yarn in yards, the actual total means nothing to me because I’m Canadian and we measure the height of people in feet but everything else in metres. So for anyone like me, my total plied yardage is 1.56 km, my singles yardage is 2.58 km, and my total spun yardage is 4.14 km. That last is an hour’s walk if I’m having a good day!)
I used three of my four wheels and a spindle. I played with fibre I’ve never used before, and some that I have. I tried to match a singles I spun a good two years ago, and despite thinking I did pretty good, still have 40 grams of the newer singles left over. I have some great yarn, and some not so great yarn, and some yarn that really needs the right project to make it useful. I didn’t get to any part of the last two 200g skeins of the Corriedale project, nor did I do any spinning on my great-grandmother’s wheel. I still have quite a few small samples left to spin, and one big one. But you know what? I spun.
I didn’t put it aside and say that I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel burned out, like I did after my undergrad, though I was afraid I would. And my hands, even on the days where they were sore and not moving well, knew what they were doing. I spun woolen, and worsted; I plied from bobbins, I chain-plied off a plying ball, I plied on a spindle; I challenged myself, and I just let the fibre and my hands do what they wanted.
Somewhere in the last three weeks, and I’ll have to apologize because I don’t remember when or who said it, but someone was admiring my work and said, with all affection and a little teasing, “It’s almost like you’re a master spinner or something.” And I had to smile and say yes, but I’m more a master spinner in the way that Master Li was a wise man in Bridge of Birds, with the half-closed eye on his sign: “Part of the truth revealed. Some things I see, but some I don’t.” (Hughart, p. 18)
Wisdom and mastery is not about knowing it all, but about knowing how much you do not know. But after these three weeks, I know that I’m a spinner, and I’ll stay behind the wheel.
|23 October 2014||Posted by Ness under Life, Recording|
Remember that little tiny cold I had the last episode? It turned into some kind of monsterous VIRUS FROM THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF PURGATORY or some such. And because I had to work the AGM, including two late nights, I used up all the energy in my little daily box for daily things, leaving nothing for my immune system to fight off the Vft7CoP.
There are things that a podcaster can come back from, even nasty viruses. But I completely lost my voice. No word of a lie. Making myself understood was a challenge. When I stopped off at Mike’s work Saturday to get the Vft7CoP checked in case I needed antibiotics, his partner said I sounded like a pubescent boy. Now that my voice is back, more than a little bit of talking sets me off in a coughing jag that I don’t need to inflict on anyone through earbuds or car speakers.
I’ve spent four days in bed, only leaving it for the things I absolutely could not reschedule or health appointments. I didn’t even shower on Tuesday; couldn’t find the energy. I didn’t even get bored until a day ago, and even then I was only a little bit bored, not enough to do anything about it. I was sick. Like, SICK.
And now here we are on Thursday, and I could try to do a make-up episode, but I’m not going to. Why? Because while I did get the weaving and fringe done on my final project, I still need to wash and finish it, and there are still five or so skeins of Level 3 looming over my head, and four days in bed has put me way, WAY behind where I wanted to be right now. I love you guys, but homework trumps podcast this week. The three hours I would spend putting the podcast together could have me spinning two more skeins, and while I don’t think I’m in danger of failing, the fewer empty holes in my workbook, the better I’ll feel about the whole darned thing.
There’s a first time for everything, and I made it almost two years before I cancelled an episode. I’d say that’s a pretty good run.
And now, “Thank you for listening to this cancelled episode. By the Fibreside is a biweekly podcast, and I look forward to bringing you Episode 47 on November 2, 2014. There are no shownotes for this episode, but you can see pretty pictures of my final project on Facebook or give me heck for cancelling this one on Ravelry. If you need to get in touch with me directly, well, I’m not answering emails until after my workbook has been handed in, but you can still reach out. Thanks again for listening! This is By the Fibreside.”
|28 July 2014||Posted by Ness under Life, Recording|
I don’t like delaying episodes. It’s a point of pride for me that I tell my listeners when they can expect the next episode, and that I stick to it. Yes, sometimes there’s a day or two delay, but life happens, and I do try to stick pretty close to that schedule.
Which is a short way of saying, this episode will be late. And it will be later than I’d otherwise like, as in, probably next weekend. I had an amazing day yesterday at Operation Gussy-Up with Knitmonton, which was four hours out in the sun. I over-dressed. I had no hat. I thought I drank enough water, but apparently not. So I’d planned to record the episode tonight, but I did not plan on staying home ill with a touch of heat exhaustion.
I may not have an official diagnosis of anything that’s wrong with me, but I do have chronic health issues, and I’ve been riding the line in terms of my energy levels for a while. Today, I am out of spoons. It took a bit of sun to make me take the day, but I slept, rested on the couch, and I’ve made myself cook a pot of pasta sauce which will last me for meals for several days. But that’s all I’ve got. It’s another hot day today, and even though that’s quite honestly all I’ve done today, that’s all I can do. If I get the grocery list made and rice cooked for breakfast before I go to bed, I’ll count myself lucky.
I hate it, to be honest, and it doesn’t sit well with my work ethic, and OMG HOMEWORK, but I have to accept that I have nothing left. So I will beg your indulgence, and put out episodes probably pretty close to back-to-back weeks. On the up side, I do actually have quite a bit to tell you about homework and the tapestry, and hopefully there’ll be a lot more to tell in the next few days.
|15 June 2014||Posted by Ness under Life|
This week’s episode will be a day delayed, but you could probably guess that from last week’s episode. On or around June 15 indeed. But here is my excuse.
Mike participated in the Ride for Dad in Calgary, a fundraiser for prostate cancer research. And after a week from hell (and I wish I was joking), it was nice to get away, hang out with family, and be there to support my partner in something he’s interested in, in the same way that he supports me and my little (haha) fibre habit. But with the Uhaul motorcycle trailer limited to 90 kph, it was a long drive home today, and there was just no time to put the episode together. That will be tomorrow’s job. So I will leave you with this video of almost 600 motorcycles parading down one of the busier streets in Calgary, on their way to the busiest.
|7 February 2014||Posted by Ness under Knitting, Life|
I was looking back through the blog posts the other week – I think it might have been when I was writing our Christmas letter, which would have made that late November, but don’t quote me on that – when I came across the post in which my hip issues started. I read it, feeling slightly baffled.
So it’s a really bummer that as I was doing my evening treadmill walk on Thursday night, that old air-bubble feeling in the ball-and-socket joint came back on the left side. Note to self: Avoid treadmill incline 5 and above… Ice and rest and anti-inflammatories this weekend, and then stretching. And no incline over 4 from now on. I was doing so well on the walking too, but I know I can’t push this one. It’s an overuse injury, and I need to bring the swelling down. And maybe go back for another spectacular set of bruises from ART if it doesn’t settle in short order. 🙂
Now, just shy of eleven months later, and I’m doing a massage a week to just maintain my current mobility, and have an appointment with a neurologist and after that, a rheumatologist. I feel like I was naive back then, but I wasn’t. Not really. I could never have predicted the… stubbornness of this particular round of difficulty.
But yes. Eleven months. And as those eleven months crawled by with their myriad appointments and recovery periods, the blogging part of the blog and podcast started to slow to a trickle. I regret that. I don’t think there was much of a choice, considering how beat up I was getting (am still getting), but I still regret it. And I continue to regret it. I feel like I have missed out on documenting the craziness of this round, and what I have done with my limited spare time to keep my mental health in as good a state as I can. I feel like I have not followed through on my commitment to rediscovering my voice, my written voice, that I put out in the first episode of the podcast.
But although I haven’t necessarily been posting as regularly as I wanted to, that hasn’t stopped me from planning posts. Lots of posts. Lots and lots and LOTS of posts. In my head. And with my camera, if I’m going to be completely honest. Something happens, I think, “Oh, that’d make a good blog post!”, I document it photographically, sketch it out in my head, and then it comes to the evening, and… Yeah.
You would love the posts in my head. Some of them are funny and witty, others are thoughtful, still others are interesting and filled with information and insights into fibre arts. I think they’re pretty good, anyway.
Of course, they’re all pretty dated now. You know, being months old and all… Heck, even this post, I’ve been writing in my head for well over two weeks. Go figure.
I’m not going to go all the way back through the posts in my head, but I’m going to try and get a few more of them out of my brain and onto the Interwebs, even if they’re shorter, or not as well illustrated with pictures, or even if they’re illustrated with iPhone or iPad pictures rather than nice camera pictures. Because I know now this is not a short-haul injury. This is a lifestyle change, a new reality, and darn it, I need to add the writing back in, if only because it’s a voice that needs to be heard.
So we’ll start with a short post-from-my-head, from Christmas time.
Do you all remember the OpArt? It didn’t stay completely square once I unpinned it, but it was still okay, and I decided to be happy with it, and trundled down to Calgary for Christmas with it in tow, as I didn’t get to it in time to mail it. So there I was Christmas Eve, and I asked my mother if she had any baby-themed wrapping paper and a card so I could get the blanket wrapped up and ready to give to the parents-to-be when I saw them Boxing Day. We ended up finding a nice blank card and some not-quite-Christmas paper that would work, and so I went out into the kitchen to wrap it up. I folded it into a nice size, and was just kind of petting it when I noticed a hair.
I have long hair, and darkish brown, and it tends to get everywhere, so I thought nothing of it at first. Just pick it off and throw it away, right? Right? But it resisted my efforts at removing it. And looking closer, I realized why.
It was knit in. Through knitting, washing, drying, pinning, blocking, ironing, all of it, I hadn’t noticed. I’d knit one of my hairs in, to a white section, of course. Now, I’m sure there’s all kinds of superstitions around such endeavours, maybe relating to gifts for possible lovers or some such, but all I could think when I saw it was, “In a WHITE section? SERIOUSLY????”
I couldn’t wrap the blanket up knowing it was there, right there, right on top. I tried to pull it out, but it had gotten itself all wrapped around the yarn and itself and wasn’t going to be so easy. So I grabbed myself a needle and picked it out, stitch by stitch.
The good news is that despite the errant hair, the blanket was well appreciated by the parents-to-be. The baby was born last month, and is doing well, hopefully often snuggled in a striped, swirly, garter-stitch blanket into which I’m sure is knit more than just the one long, curly, brown hair.