Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Two years old, funny songs, and a giveaway...

purple novelty yarns 068Though this crazy train I seem to opt to ride with abandon, which you will recognize as repeated spinning of the same damned sock yarn, has been a real experience – there is nothing one needs more whenst breaking from a grip of challenge and a near maniacal project like a good ole dose of novelty yarn. Okay, so coming out of the fog of ‘spin very tightly but not really tight, very thin but not wafe thin or your yarn will be a farse that mocks you as you try to ply it and it just keeps undoing itself and sitting there like a bad cat or something’ is not so easy right off. For this, I needed some silk. No bells, whistles, ding-alings of any sort , just smooth, luxurious silk. My hands grabbed up the ‘hearbreaker’ colorway that I introduced in the shop last week and instinct pretty much took over. A simple two-ply of the good stuff and I was on my way to redeeming my former reputation as a funky yarn spinner.

purple novelty yarns 030Next stop, ‘Marie Laveau’. Now, this colorway has been inside my head for ages but only a couple of weeks ago did she materialize into something I could really see. It all started with the endless search for a funny song. What? Don’t like funny songs? Get out….really? Here on the funny farm, funny songs are, well, our anthem. We’ve needed extra infusions of said songs this winter as it seems Ms. Nature is having a real laugh at us and all of our daring late season home repairs that still sit covered in tarps and snow while we try to bounce back from what seems like back-to-back bouts of single digit to teens cold, then lots of snow, then a day or two of warm (read here, around 30 degrees) days – just enough to give you blind foolish hope, and back to the ice sculpture weather again. Last year, well, I won’t even go there. Let’s just say that last year we didn’t even have snow on the ground at Christmas. This year, we had over three feet by early to mid December. Maybe it was the wrong year to gamble on the weather holding out for us to finish our insulating, roof extending, and warm bathroom building?

Having been a kid who loved funny songs, I had so many to share when Thing 3 developed a healthy lust for them last year. Ray Stevens is a must if you want some good ole face-blushing fun. What could be funnier than a song called, “The Streak”? Well, at least that’s the one he’s mostly known for. Myself, I prefer the Mississipi Squirrel Revival. Still, nothing makes an 8 yr. old boy laugh like a song that has a cuss word or two in it. So, I pulled out a Jimmy Buffett memory and we found this essential video for proper child development on youtube. We got to giggling and snorting so loud that it attracted the attention of the rest of the family and – voila – I was transcended back in time to find myself having a redneck moment wherein the entire fam sat watching the video, listening to the song, and dispelling any notions that we are pure or even chaste in any real way. So, there goes the reputation (for some reason, people seem to think our lifestyle choices are a result of our assuming we are morally pure or uncorrupted by modern society – we’re just doing our part to break through the stereotypes). This sparked days, weeks, month, really, of walking around humming funny songs and then bringing the kids to the computer to marvel at my ‘finds’. The Squirrel Revival even earned me a ‘cool’ remark from the resident teen in our house. I was a little smug about it for a day or two until I was reminded (more than once) of my inability to be cool. Well, we can’t have it all all of the time, I guess. Where was I? Oh, yeah, so I’m humming this song about Marie Laveau and I decide to seek it out and play it – being that we’re hard-core Jack Sparrow/Tia Dalma fans and a song that has a squeal in it is almost as good as a melodic tune like ‘puff the magic dragon’ for winning a child’s heart for a kid who likes to mimic things just to remind his older brother and sister that he's in the room. That inspiration resulted in me finally getting off my arse and getting the colorway into batt form and because I lack any self-control and there seems to be a magnet stuck to my wheel that is sucking me in without me knowing it – the batt quickly became a yarn. Now things were starting to heat up a little.
batts 001
Then, that distinct yearning that I get on a sort of monthly basis (dirty minds – I’m talking about yarn!) to get a loop on just took over. With some superfine cobweb 100% mohair that I’d dyed in periwinkle, some 50/50 silk/tencel superfine as a base strand, and a dk wgt. Handspun string of ‘Marie Laveau’, I went ahead and fed the urge to make loopy and it was just the instant gratification I needed.

purple novelty yarns 016What to do next? Well, I had this mixture of silk, merino, alpaca, Cotswold, sari silk, glitz, etc. that I had picked a while back in anticipation of making a floofy batt. Only, that particular batch of merino was pilling like crazy so I pulled it, shelved it, cried over all the yummy things I’d poured into it, and learned a lesson about processing fiber. Try a little of each different fleece on the carder first! That way, you don’t learn about a ‘bad’ fleece after you’ve already loved it, dyed it, dried it, and added a billionty (small exaggerations allowed) dollars worth of specialty fibers to it. Still, it seemed a shame to waste it. It is oober soft, very pretty, and fluffy beyond reason. So, I took that same tencel/silk cobweb and corespun the noily fiber around it thick and thin. Then, I plied it with another strand of the same the other way (I always get that ‘z’ twist and ‘s’ twist thing screwed up in my head. After years of spinning, I guess I don’t even care anymore – just go the opposite way. Blame it on my heritage. When my ancestors got off the boat and the guy at the immigration counter asked their name, he cocked his head and said, ‘spell it’. They did so and he quickly told them they were illiterate fools – no one can have a name with no vowels in it. And, furthermore, he mused, a ‘z’ cannot sound like a ‘j’ – EVER. He proceeded to ‘fix’ the spelling of our name right then and there and since then but not for the hundreds of years before that day – we were awash with vowels and exaggerated ways to elongate that ‘z’ that meant ‘j’) with a smooth but tight draw. You just pull your pinching fingers back in a smooth sweep before you feed the yarn into the flyer. You can literally see the plies per inch when you do this. It will revolutionize your 2 ply yarns and is essential when making a novelty yarn that you want to be funky, soft, but also very sturdy and not fall apart. The result, another round of ‘Fluer Delacour’ (note that she gets fresh with the other yarns right away when I collect them for a group pic later).

Whew! I feel better now. Of course, it didn’t seem to curb my neurotic urge to get back to the sock yarn spinning – which I did, immediately – but at least I did it in another colorway.

If not for the Yarn Harlot, I might have been wandering the halls mumbling and missed my blog turning 2 entirely. It was downright eery when I read her post wherein she just realized her blog anniversary was that day and I did the classic puppy look (you know the one, where you turned your head to the side, furrow your brow, and do your best Pooh bear thinking look). I though, ‘hmm, I think my blog’s birthday may be coming up, too’. And it is – it’s today! For a few years, I’d been hearing great things from friends about blogs and due to the gentle (and sometimes not) urging of some of them to get me writing again, I hunkered down to it two years ago in the wee hours of the night whilst waiting on a ewe to realize she wasn’t the only woman in the world to ever give birth and get on with it. It has been an awesome two years and I hope I’m not the only one who thinks so (hee hee). Seriously, though, ya’ll are a real gift to me and I appreciate you being here. So, I’m in the mood to give a present. We’re carding up some new colorways this week. A set of batts or, if you’re not a spinner, a handspun single of one batt to the person whose name I draw from either the comments or my email addy (dyeingwitchATyahooDOTcom) by next Tuesday with a link, title, or verse of your favorite funny song. Sorry to do it to you, but the kid wants more funny!

purple novelty yarns 078Go ahead and take the opportunity presented to tell me if there’s something you like or would like on the blog for the coming year. I’m already working on getting more ‘farm-ness’ into the writing and certainly picture taking of the blog. Hubster promises to teach me how to download video (which is generous as this sort of thing usually makes me cuss like a sailor and sometimes become violent) so if we can get a generous ewe to ‘pose’ in birth – maybe I can gross you out with slimy lamb pics, eh? Oh, that reminds me – I am heretofore alerting you to the fact that for the next few weeks, it may seem as though I’ve been abducted by aliens and that there are trolls writing the blog. No need to worry. It’s just lambing season. I keep waiting for the year that I will become a seasoned, casual professional farmer and not the giddy, nervous, and fretful midwife that I still seem to be. Can’t help it. I love my ewes and the lambs are just so innocent and sweet that I can’t help feeling like it is an awesome privilege to be caring for them. This is good because it is sometimes all we have to comfort us down in the really frickin’ cold barn on a ‘birth night’. So, there will be less sleep. There will be more bone-freezing cold. There will be the impossible search for a sacred paper towel roll. And, there will be cuteness on the fly. If I give you all this and you still complain – I will likely cry. Loudly.