• introspection,  knitting,  spinning,  weaving,  writing

    Flutter Brain

    Chaos Fire by Walex Khmurets

    My life has been so chaotic over the past few weeks that I found myself looking forward to today as a much needed respite — a time in which I could get All of the Things done that I haven’t had time to do as I’ve been moving through my day-to-day over the last month.  Now that I finally had a few hours of time to myself, I would have time to work on finishing plotting out my masters’ thesis novella, finish spinning that bag of fiber from SOAR 2011*, work on my nursing shawl knitting project and finally weave off that monk’s belt weaving sample that I started — according to my Bullet Journal — sometime in January.

    Oh my word.  Naturally, I would also get all my Christmas cards completed and the family gifts purchased, as well as doing at least one thoughtful thing for each of the five significant birthdays that I celebrate in December…because those are all the things that I want to have done by the end of the day.  That’s how this works, right?

    Instead, I found myself sitting down at my desk, which looked very much like what you might imagine the desk of someone who has been completely overwhelmed for months to look like.  I have more relevant loose papers to file than I likely have in my file cabinet.  The pitted cherry surface of my desk had been littered with various boxes of medication, lotions, plastic caps, small electronic parts and, inexplicably, half a small tube of toothpaste.  A broken necklace that I love has waiting for repair.  There’s an intricately folded dollar bill that came from who-knows-where and a pile of hair accessories for someone with long hair, which has not been me for at least a year.  I have been paying the price of my disorganization — I still have a crushed car sitting in my driveway because I cannot seem to get the title and the lien release for this car in my hands at the same time, despite several attempts.  No matter how many times I go through all the various piles of paper in my house right now, I can never reduce them to some meaningful amount that produces the paper that I need right now and that I know that I saw somewhere.  Even my computer was filled with too many programs open, a mishmash of ideas for work and school and the various aspects of my life, with no focus anywhere.  My inboxes are overflowing with unread messages and my brain feels just about the same way.

    People keep saying that I have pregnancy brain, but I actually hate this phrase.  I think instead that I have life brain. Pregnancy has definitely contributed, as I’ve been spending a lot of my time on a fast-tracked learning curve about both pregnancy and what the heck you’re meant to do with a newborn to keep her alive.  Having to radically change my diet because of some issues with the pregnancy has also been a time-suck, as I’ve had to try to figure out new recipes and ingredients that I never used to cook with never ate before.  Normally, feeding myself is a fairly automatic process, but it’s been moved up to the front burner of my consciousness as something I actually need to pay attention to, rather than letting habit determine my behavior. That’s a lot of time that I used to spend on keeping my life in order and my desk has shown the end result.  I am not my normally organized self, which means I spend so much more time looking for what I need rather than accomplishing the simple things. Pregnancy brain indeed.

    Stressed by it all, I reached a breaking point today that my family is quite familiar with — the  moment where the house is too thrown apart for me to even think.  I can’t be happy in chaos.  I’ve done none of the things that I planned to do today, other than cook some food to buy me time later this week, but I have thrown my desk and basement back into enough of a semblance of order that I can think again.  I can write again.  I can relax again….as long as I don’t go upstairs.

    Ahhhh.   Can someone send all my food down here? I don’t think I ever want to leave.




    * Yes, this is as embarrassing as it seems.

  • knitting,  spinning,  travel,  weaving

    October – Rhinebeck 2013

    As it usually does, October flew by in a mad rush.  I always want to do more for Halloween and, every single year, I find myself speculating at how everyone else manages to find the time.  I’ve no idea how my time gets so filled up, but there’s something about the changing of the seasons that puts me into a flurry of writing and fiber arts and music that makes it difficult to keep up. Before I know it, Halloween is over and I haven’t done a thing but admire everyone else’s costumes.

    One of the biggest events for me was my first time going to the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival, more commonly known as Rhinebeck to the knitting community.  It is a county fair that has been taken over by the fiber arts world and is largely considered the biggest fiber arts event in the country.  My knitting circle went together. They convinced me to walk out on a very tall bridge:


    I love these ladies.

    I had mixed feelings about Rhinebeck as an event. This is because I’ve been to SOAR, which is a spinning retreat put on by Spin-Off magazine, which ran for the very last time this year. I am very sorry to have missed it, now that I know that it was the last one, because it was an event I deeply wanted to do again. SOAR is all about fiber arts mentorship and learning. There’s a market, but it doesn’t open until four days into the event, and it’s small enough that you can go through it a few times. Rhinebeck is the inverse of this; the focus is on the market, with a handful of offered classes. The market is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the fiber world; barn upon barn upon barn upon building of fiber vendors. It is so overwhelming that people develop strategies on how to cover all of the vendors. It is very crowded, particularly among the more popular booths. And while I would like to say that it was crowded with my kind of people, that just wasn’t universally true.

    I like to talk to people when I’m at fiber events, because it’s an occasion to gain knowledge on subjects that just aren’t all that common among the general population. I did a lot of that at Rhinebeck and I learned some interesting tips, particularly regarding weaving. If knitters are becoming more common, it’s very hard to meet a weaver, so I asked questions of everyone I could find that was behind a loom. That was really great. I also went with the goal of buying myself a nice spindle, which I did within the first few hours of being there. I picked a Forrester, largely because it was beautiful, and I thought having a beautiful tool would make me more interested in spindle spinning, which has the advantage of being much more portable than a wheel.


    This has worked well. I also picked up a copy of Respect the Spindle, which has demystified some of the aspects of spindle spinning. That little ball of alpaca single there is my first real spindle spinning.  I can’t wait to finish spinning all that alpaca behind it so that I can try my hand at plying.

    It was also at the moment of this excellent purchase that I had my first meeting with The Other Kind of fiber artist. I had been chatting with her about spinning while waiting in line to purchase my spindle. She cheerfully declared that she had just spent her entire Rhinebeck budget in one place – pointing out that it was $300, repeatedly. Then she asked me, with some disdain, if that really was the size of the bag that I had brought *to Rhinebeck*, since it was just my purse and clearly not big enough for everything that I would want to take home.  She also asked if New York had *any* good yarn stores, as she’d only ever seen one and it was in Ohio, but…she’d spent $500 there the first time she saw it! I suggested that Manhattan does, indeed, have several that are quite good, as it is the home of the fashion industry, and then I fled, feeling weirdly ashamed and disgusted at the same time.

    There is a subset of people in the fiber arts community that are collectors. To some extent, we all are — we love the beauty of fiber. But there’s a certain set that seem to feel that the extent of one’s fiber and yarn stash is somehow corollary to how dedicated one is to the fiber arts. The point seems to be not the creation of art from beautiful materials but a sort of competitive commercialism. My stash is better than your stash.  I have such an aversion to shopping and commercialism generally that I never quite know how to handle these people.  It wasn’t the quality of what she had purchased – it was the dollar amount that she seemed to feel was important.  For me, this is the opposite of what the fiber arts are about.  Knitting or crochet or spinning or weaving connects us to a time when these were mandatory survival skills.  I feel at peace when I’m doing these things.  I feel connected to a slower time and the people that led to my existence.  I feel a pride as my hands turn string into clothing and cloth and fleece into yarn.  Having the modern “buy buy buy!” of mass consumerism shoved in my face throws me for a loop every time, even though I’ve been to enough shows to have expected to meet her.  It’s just not what the fiber arts are about for me.  It’s not what I think they should be about.

    2.2 lbs of first year goat locks
    2.2 lbs of first year goat locks

    Perhaps it is actually a comment on the fiber arts community that I only met one of her.  I spent the rest of the weekend walking around, feeling inspired and meeting people whose work I admire.  I had my books signed by Ann Budd and Gertie Hirsch.  I had sightings of  Ann Weaver and The Tsock Tsarina.  I went to my first fleece sale and got to look at fleeces in person before buying them. (I brought home those pretty goat locks on the left there.) I learned from weavers and spinners and knitters alike.  I spent the weekend with some excellent friends and drank way too much grappa and Domaine de Canton.  I discovered that milk stout is delicious.  If the crowds were overwhelming and occasionally peppered with people who were loudly missing the point, I think the benefits far outweighed the downsides.  I left feeling inspired…and with plenty of fiber in my far-too-small bag.  Now just to use it all up — maybe I’ll catch up by next October.