Peeved at the TV

I get it.  Christmas is coming. There are cards and trees and tinsel and badly played tinny renditions of carols on every other commercial on TV. (It’s only mid-November, so it’s not /every/ commercial yet)

But that’s not all that different. Nor are the “buy your kids 12 billion things to show you love them” undertones anything new.

Yesterday, however, after driving 300 miles back from Dallas (I drove up there Saturday for my mom’s birthday), I flipped on the TV to veg out a little and relax. And the first commercial I saw?

Scruffy Dude: “Hand-made Gifts for Christmas?”

Dude looks at his smiling grandmother, sitting across from him at the table. Dude stands up and goes into the garage with the (rather nice) hand knit mittens she just gave him.

Scruffy Dude: “Who wants that? Why not buy your friends something they’ll really like.  Like a snowmobile. I hear you can get one cheap on E-Bay!”

<more e-bay paraphernalia, showing the Dude doing “fun things” with extremely expensive mechanical items out in the snow, Dude playing with expensive electronics. He’s wearing synthetic gloves.>

Scruffy Dude sniffs the mittens:  “Smells like church.”

<Cue E-Bay tag.>

Alright.  So E-bay takes pot-shots at Etsy. Great.

Just what I wanted to see after spending 25 hours over three and a half days frantically making some woollen winter things for my mother’s birthday (after she mentioned not having any before her move).

I’m sure every person who spends countless hours working on gifts so that they can be pushed aside in favor of shiny, “expensive” (previously owned/USED) things bought on E-Bay is just thrilled. I have enough of a time with gifts that I make for people. When you spend many hours working on something? Having that something get rejected … hurts. (Which is why some of my friends will not get knitted things. If I figure out that your reaction will be to act nice-nice and then shove it in a drawer? Nope.  No knits for you.)

Now, am I actually putting any stock in this particular commercial?

Not really, though (as I’m sure you noticed) I’m slightly peeved.

To be honest, it reads like E-bay is feeling threatened by Etsy’s handmade offerings, and the fact that the makers of said handmade items are choosing to sell them via Etsy rather than through E-Bay (which has kinda become an odd shamble of used items and then huge shiny stores selling all kinds of things at normal (or higher) prices).  Which, you know, whatever. If they’re threatened enough to take potshots at handmade items in order to shill their “Christmas Crap” campaign, they’ll just lose even more of their sellers to Etsy.

Still, though, I think the whole thing is misplaced and… well, not that funny.

Sure, I get that a new snowmobile is “more fun” than a pair of mittens. But you need mittens to ride a snowmobile without frostbite, and, quite honestly, I can afford to buy enough yarn to make some mittens (less than $20 even for REALLY NICE yarn).

TLDR version – Ebay is stupid, commercials are stupid, and having to put up with Christmas for three months every year is REALLY stupid.

Also?  What the fuck does “smells like church” mean?

Priorities

Left Mitten, unblocked. Pattern is Bella’s Mittens, by Marielle Henault.
I’m just now casting on its opposite.

Yarn is Malabrigo Merino Worsted (single spun) in colorway Pearl Ten, held double. Knit on size 8 circular (yes, I know the pattern calls for a size 11 needle. I knit loosely, and my intended recipient is not a large person. These fit me, so I know they will fit her.)

These mittens are the reason I’ve not done any NaNo writing. They’re the reason we ate pizza for dinner last night. (I’ve managed to get a crock-pot dinner going for tonight.)

They are a gift. A last minute gift, and they need to be done by Saturday morning. I have two busy evenings tonight and tomorrow, and so everything else is on hold while I cram-knit to get them done. I’m really /really/ hoping I get finished.

Updatey Things

House stuff:

As expected – the mold test results came back positive.  Very positive in some cases – but all in very localized locations.  Our… special seller’s original response was “well can we just get a contractor in to replace the insulation and sheetrock?” – to which we very firmly said no – for two reasons.  First, we have to live there, and my hubby is allergic to some kinds of mold (and I have a cat with respiratory allergies) – not worth it! THe other reason? If we don’t have a legally followed mold remediation protocol, with a post-remediation inspection, then we have documented proof of an active mold infection and no proof of removal.

Meaning we wouldn’t be able to re-sell that house.

So that’s all getting done this week (was supposed to happen this weekend, but it rained), as well as the roof replacement and all the other minor repairs, like slow drains and some fireplace maintenance.

Our tentative closing date is next Friday, hopefully early in the day (because if the money doesn’t vest on Friday, we won’t get the housekeys until Monday, and that would suck), but that may not end up working out if we can’t get all the repairs done and all that jazz.

Health Stuff:

As its warmed up, I’ve had a lot less trouble with joint pain, though it’s still a daily issue. Yoga has been something of my magic pill, so I’ve been doing that just about every day – it helps a lot, both with the stretching and because it helps me not feel cold all the time. I’m still having trouble sleeping, which doesn’t help anything, so I’m trying to find a way to help with that. Right now I’m drinking chamomile/mint tea before bed, and going to bed early enough that I can take at least half an hour to sit and crochet/knit/craft in bed with my tea.

Should be going back to the doctor sometime in March to have all of the bloodwork repeated for all the other stuff – we’ll see what happens.

Craft Stuff:

I’ve had a serious problem with start-itis lately – fortunately I recognize it when I see it, and have learned that the best way to manage start-itis is to stick to the projects I have, but to start something small that I can finish in a few hours (usually knitted/crocheted kitchen cloths, since they go fast).  I’ve got a sweater that I’ve been working on, but … I’m not enjoying it.  I’m not sure why, but working on it feels like I’m forcing myself to do it, and I’ve knitted all of 4 inches of the neckband (top down raglan).

I’m inclined to frog it and try something else with the yarn – I love the finished sweater, but I’m not sure I’m up for a big project right now with all the other stuff going on.

All the other stuff being all the projects I’m going to be picking up with the new house – painting, curtains, and pillows mostly.  I’m pretty excited!

Tour de Fleece

Apologies in advance for the whining, but I’m a little frustrated.

Granted, I did not manage to spin every day of the Tour, but I came pretty close (I did go on vacation for part of it, and airports don’t look kindly on long pointy sticks with hooks in the end).

So today I went to go look at the spindlers and rookies threads on Ravelry to get some inspiration for taking pictures of what I’d spun.

And discovered entire threads of pictures from people who have been spinning for 1-2 months that is perfectly balanced, even, and in huge quantities.  I’m not sure if the difference is the spinning wheels (most of the rookies have wheels), or that I have crappy spindles, or if I just absolutely suck and should not spin anymore, but I’ve been doing this for a year and can’t create yarn like that.

Needless to say, I’m not bothering to post my meagre, lousy skeins.  They’re only going to get felted anyway.

Woad is me!

Took out a lock of the fleece from the indigo bath, squeezed it all out, let it dry, rinsed it well, squeezed it again, and let it dry some more.

It’s blue! 

Soft grey blue right now.  The chemical reaction is definitely going strong (most mornings when I go to stir it, the pot has a translucent film and is greenish, not blueish, until after I stir it up again).

The only thing I’m worried about now is whether this daily agitation in the indigo water will felt my fleece!

I should’ve painted my face too…

So my usual illumination stuff for Monday nights got canceled today.  Instead, I went to go hang out with the fiber arts people, who have been having fun with raw fleece.

I thought I’d be safe, since they’ve already washed the fleece and would be dyeing tonight.

I was wrong.

I now have a vat on my back porch (ok, it’s a bucket) full of barely washed fleece, indigo, and the water that we washed the fleece in – yes, the dirty stuff.  I’m apparently to let that sit on the porch in the sun for 7-10 days, stirring daily, in order to create an organic fermentation/chemical reaction that will bind the indigo (a non water-soluble dye) into my fleece.

So I’ll have blue fleece.

Otherwise, I’ll have dingy fleece and a really smelly bright blue mess.  We’ll see what happens.  Come to think of it, right now what I have is dingy fleece and a really smelly bright blue mess.  I have blue-ish fingernails too.

I also got some uncarded wool, which – at first glance – is going to be a lot of fun.  My wool cards create small rolags (rolag = fluffy bit of carded wool in a little tube), and I’m trying to spin this at a thick DK/thin worsted weight off the rolags, spinning woollen.  This means I get about 2 drops per rolag, sitting down.  However – the hand washed, hand combed fleece really does spin a lot easier than the commercially prepared rovings, I think because it’s not so compact – the lanolin might help as well.

Also, I’m not having to spin from the fold, since the rolags are prepared for spinning woolen.

Spinning takes a lot longer when you have to card all the wool first.

Not out of the woods yet

But Max is doing better. He did eat today (though not much) and, as unglamorous as it sounds, I’m watching the cat boxes closely.

Somewhere, inside my cat, is a hair elastic. It really needs to be in the litter box, and not inside my cat.

In better news, I finished the first Baby Surprise Jacket, and I’m much happier with it now that it’s all finished and put together than I was when it was still on the needles. While I’m not gaga over the color combo (I’m already liking the second one, which is purple and gray rather than pink and gray), it looks nice, is super cute, and the seaming came out well. 5 buttons away from being totally completed.

I also frogged the first half of the Fawkes sock. I have some Koigu that I *love* in a colorway that is drool-worthy, and I really like the way Fawkes looks when it’s done… but I just couldn’t stand to knit it. Memorizing a 12 row lace repeat… just didn’t really work for me. I like working on things that don’t require so much thought as to be only do-able when sitting quietly.

Or at least, I only like to work on one project at a time that requires that concentration, and the Olive Branch Yoga Hoodie is that project for me right now.

‘Course, it’s sitting in my knitting bag untouched, and I’ve cast on another sock. This time in Knitpicks Essentials Meadow Multi, using the pattern Primavera. While it looks complicated, this is a 6 row repeat, and the first 5 rows are the same. MUCH simpler. So far, so good.

New Books!

Three books arrived in the mail today! Yay! Especially for a day that started out with cat barf at 5am.

Things I Learned from Knitting (whether I wanted to or not) – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (also known as The Yarn Harlot). I’ve finished reading this one (a quick read) and am just as thrilled with this as I have been with the other Harlot books in the past. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite from among her books; she never fails to make me laugh at myself and my knitting, even if I”m not the most proficient or prolific knitter out there.

Spinning in the Old Way – Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts – I’ve not really looked through this book yet, but a preliminary glance says it’ll be a fantastic spindling resource, especially as I start really working on some of these top rovings that I don’t want to goob up with my lousy spinning.

Start Spinning – Maggie Casey – A book about spinning in general – both hand and wheel – that I’m a little ways into and really enjoying. It’s also full of gorgeous pictures. Not that I’d go straight for those or anything…

Anyway – since I’ve gotten most of what I need to get done today finished (except tackling Mt. Washmore), I think I’m going to go curl up and read some. And maybe finish that baby surprise jacket – I’m on the button band, so it shouldn’t take too much longer.

And so she spins

(no, I don’t usually start all my posts with sibilant titles)

My lack of video card brings me some extra time. I should be spending this extra time doing things like cleaning/organizing and knitting on the plethora of baby things I have to get done before next fall (I’m not preggers, but I have a pile of friends that are). Instead, I’ve cooked several labor intensive meals and have been piddling around doing a little of this and that and the other.

With two cats, I get very little time to spin in the apartment – but yesterday they were passed out in the sunbeam from the open window, so I spent a happy hour or so drawing fiber. I use a large top-whorl drop spindle (how spinning works), and I’m currently working on about 6 oz of unidentified blended wool. I’m pretty sure it has Blue-faced Leicester in it, but it’s got other stuff too – the woman who sold it to me at an SCA event basically gave it to me for pennies after I bought two spindles from her, and she didn’t know what it was.

Whatever it is, it’s pretty, has a very long staple, and is nice to work with when my fingers are feeling out of practice. I’d have pictures, but pictures mean opening a photo-editor, and without a video card… well, that’s not really advisable at the moment.

I’ve also eagerly been following BrooklynTweed’s Anatomy of a Handspun (part1 and part2) – and my desire to get an actual spinning wheel has increased yet again. I know I ought to just set aside some money from each paycheck until I can buy one, but the daunting process of figuring out *what* wheel to buy is rather offputting.

So I suppose, until I can find someone to sit down with me and show me the ropes of wheel-spinning, and what kind of wheel I want, I’ll stick with spindling. After all, the only clothes that people wore for thousands of years were spun entirely with spindles – I figure it won’t hurt me to do my spinning that way for a little while longer yet.