Category Archives: yarn

Nothing Like Learning to Get the Wheels Spinning

I have been remiss in actually including yarny, fibery content on this blog, haven’t I? Let’s remedy that.

I begin with two important framing revelations.

Point the first: Learning tends to come easily to me. More specifically, book learning comes easily. It took me years and one master’s degree to figure out that I was confusing being very good at something with really enjoying it. I was that student who wrote one-draft papers the night before they were due and largely earned As. Which is to say, I have not generally had to work at my academic successes like other students, and this ripples over to other learning experiences sometimes.

Point the second: Physical activities that require coordinating multiple limbs don’t tend to come easily to me. (Oh, hush, you, with the 12-year-old snickers. That’s not what I meant, but I couldn’t figure a better way to sum up a tendency that transcends inability at sports.) A few years ago, I took a belly dancing class. Loved it. The first couple classes went well. We learned a lot of the basic moves, broken down one at a time. A shoulder shimmy here, a step and hip thrust there. I felt sexy and had fun. Then the instructor told us we’d be working on a basic choreography by the end of the course. And it was like everything left my brain. I knew how to travel up a row and which foot went where, but the minute I had to coordinate that with an alternating shoulder shimmy or a gyration, I got lost, quickly falling out of formation and nearly stumbling into the woman behind me. Miss Grace I am not.

So this explains a lot of my trepidation about learning to spin on my new wheel. I am a poor student, easily frustrated when I can’t flawlessly pick something up, and for heaven’s sake, I have a double treadle spinning wheel that requires using two feet and both hands. I couldn’t even drive a stick shift.

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What’s in a Name?

I firmly believe that names have… not so much power as, perhaps, significance. One of my cats is named after a poised, regal character in a favorite sci fi TV show; the other is named a one-syllable word that reflects his troublemaking nature. My crafting projects too have fitting names.

Some of my projects just get simple descriptive names. Others are a variant on the pattern name. Yet others might play off of the name of the yarn colorway(s) that went into the project. And sometimes I just get cheeky in my choice of naming conventions, for which I have paid dearly.

I here present Exhibit A:

Kerchief of Copious Swearing +10

This shawlette was cursed from the moment I named it.

The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief had been a pattern that came to my attention by virtue of its fun, steampunk-y name. Still a relatively new knitter, I decided it would be a good pattern to make my first foray into shawls, a good beginner project at that sweet difficulty spot of just a hair past what I had been comfortable with but not too complicated. The first few rows were beset with stupid, beginner mistakes, and I cheekily named it the Kerchief of Copious Swearing +10, riffing off of RPG naming conventions. Ha ha, aren’t I clever, I thought. It’s all a great joke that I’ll laugh about when it’s done.

Except it never got done. The plagues and difficulties continued as I somehow mysteriously lost stitches in one row (this determined after multiple recounts) and then several rows later found myself with equally mysterious additional stitches. The final straw came when I realized I had done an entire 145-stitch row wrong out of carelessness. Copious swearing? Oh yes, it happened. Ragequitting? It happened too. I tried to be rational and simply put it in Bad Project time-out, but after a month passed, I just decided to be done with it and rip it out and let the yarn get a fresh start in a project without the negative associations. It’s lovely yarn (Nerd Girl Yarns, on my favorite base, Heart You, in one of her Dr Who club colorways called Spoilers), and it deserves to shine in something that I won’t scowl at in remembrance every time I look at it.

Enter Exhibit B:

Kerchief of Sparkles and Happiness

I have learned my lesson.

I still wanted to make the kerchief because it is a simple pattern that lets lovely yarn shine through (more Nerd Girl goodness, this one on a DK-weight base, Smashing, and in the discontinued colorway Vampires in Venice). This wasn’t going to be a project that I started and haphazardly slapped a name on, no. From the moment I wound the yarn into a cake and saw the subtle glimmer of sparkles, I decided to give this project a name so aggressively cheerful that it would have no choice but to be cooperative.

And thus the Kerchief of Sparkles and Happiness was named. Knock on wood, but it is some of the smoothest, most relaxing knitting I’ve done to date.

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