Time Flies!

February went by in the blink of an eye and it feels like the Ides of March & St. Patrick’s Day 2018 will quickly be a thing of the past while I carry on privately writing, knitting, and doing other crafty things. I suppose I’m starting to come out of some kind of hibernation now that the days are getting longer again; I’ve started doing things that I’ve been putting off for a long time, like:

  • Submitting poems and a short story to Narrative magazine, which of course I’m anxious about, thinking “I submitted it ___ ago! Why haven’t they gotten back to me yet?” which started the day after I sent the email, of course. Also, I haven’t been writing the last few weeks, but I have a plan to start again.
  • I cleaned out my yarn stash for the first time ever and am handing off bits and bobs to a local knitter in another knitting group. The oldest yarn in there I bought in NYC in 2000 or 2002 – if I haven’t knit that Dale of Norway Baby Ull by now, I don’t think I’m going to, so it’s best to send it on its way to fulfill its destiny.
  • Updating my Ravelry stash pages. The yarn clean-out was spurred by two of my knitting friends giving me yarn, spinning fiber, and a stack of fair isle books they inherited, so there was a lot of updating I needed to do.
  • Finishing off embroidery pieces and listing them in The Yarn Office, my etsy shop: The View from Mt. Peg and Firecracker).
  • Adding handspun yarn to The Yarn Office: a set of handspun naturally dyed cormo that I’m incredibly proud of, some sunset-colored yarn that was fun to spin but so not my color, and some natural brown wool that I’m not quite sure what to do with. In looking at my handspun, I also realized that I really prefer making 3 ply yarns for some reason.
Cormo Set
Handspun, naturally dyed cormo yarn set

My knitting has been focused on using yarn that I got from my friend Lisa, who received almost the whole stash of a friend she met on Ravelry. Unfortunately for this friend, she can no longer knit (I hope that day never comes for me) and knew that Lisa would appreciate her colorwork-focused stash and library. Lisa was overwhelmed and so I happily stepped in to help take some of the yarn off her hands, starting with enough Sandness Garn Peer Gynt to make 2 sweaters. I’ve long admired Knit.Love.Wool on Instagram, and found that she (Jennifer Steinglass) not only has patterns that I got gauge for with Peer Gynt, but that for all of 2018 she’s having a buy 2 patterns get 1 free sale on Ravelry (info on her designer page). I just finished Starfall and started on Seachange.

My Starfall Sweater with some slightly tweaked colorwork

I need to catch up with a lot of the blogs I follow (sorry friends!) – I’ve been reading The Internet and books instead of blogs lately. I’m currently reading the second book in a really fascinating trilogy by N. K. Jemison, The Broken Earth series. Before this, I read Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, which is also a trilogy that I really enjoyed. I find myself longing for female heroes and the female perspective and although both of these are sci-fi/fantasy, they deliver and they deliver on being diverse (another thing I’ve been craving) since both authors are African American. I’m also working my way through The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World. Yes! Those Amazons! They were real! This book is a bit more scholarly and so not the most compelling read, but it’s still really fascinating.

Oh! I almost forgot! I started another Instagram account, LittleGoldenNotebook, for inspirational quotes. I know, that sounds cheesy and probably like tons of other “inspirational quotes” quote account all over the interwebs. But these were all selected by me (and all have authors, which was important to me) to help me get through tough times right after I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. I collected them and printed them on 3×5 cards to help a dear friend going through a rough patch, shared them with another friend, and then decided I should just share them with Everyone In The World. Here’s the quote for today, International Women’s Day:


Note that this is probably the most feminist quote I’ve posted to the account, though I sort of modify this in my head to apply to humans in general, you know? How can I really be free when anyone is enslaved or doesn’t have full human rights? I’m guessing Audre Lorde would agree with that, but women – especially minority women – have been long neglected and that’s more what she was driving at (though I’m not Audre Lorde or intersectional feminism scholar by any means). Anyway. I’m doing that too and would love to have more company!


TBT: Iron Age Tunic, TBT to the Future

In 2014, an iron age tunic was discovered along with a cache of artifacts that were previously frozen in a Norwegian glacier. The tunic was woven, had been patched several times, and had sleeves added after the original garment was made. More details about the textile and its construction are in this article, while the full archeological details are here, including the significance and interpretation of the find. Easier to digest is this video made about the reconstruction of the tunic, which shows both the original and the reconstruction.

It’s interesting to imagine what will survive the present age and how it will be interpreted in the future. We currently produce massive amounts of clothing to the point where, especially in Western culture, it is considered by some to be wasteful. The slow fashion movement is a reaction to clothing as an extension of consumerism, but I would also argue that knitters, crocheters, and weavers have long been rebelling against industrialized, consumer fashion. Handmade clothing (knit, crocheted, woven, hand stitched, handmade in any step of the process) is so much more than a utilitarian body covering or a fashion statement with all its cultural baggage – handmade clothing is all of that and more; a signifier of care and love from one person to another, a signifier of uncommon skills, and probably more that I’m not thinking of at the moment. Handmade clothing just means more than mass produced items, and not just because handmade clothing is unique.

I suspect I could continue along these lines for quite some time, so I’ll spare you by asking you to imagine future throw back Thursdays featuring garments you’ve made, handmade garments given to you, or your current personal wardrobe favorites that you would want to survive.

Wordless Wednesday: Explosion Embroidery



TBT: British Isles and Cloth Making

There’s a theory in the fashion world that a period of austerity or recession heralds a return to the comfort and familiarity of tried-and-tested classics.  In this way, we seek solace in what we think of as our heritage. Certainly, many of the collections in the shops for this winter feature designs that have their roots in the craft-based industries of the rugged islands in the north Atlantic that gave their names to some of the styles most closely associated with traditional British clothing – Harris, Shetland, Fair Isle. Today these iconic styles are widely copied by mass market producers  while the craft industries which developed them struggle to remain viable, the weaving of tweed on the islands of Lewis and Harris being a notable exception. However, they continue to define the way the places and people of the isles are thought of. For the practitioners too, making plays an important social role in how they see themselves.

Read the whole article from 2012 (really, a summary of research), Making the cloth that binds us: spinning, weaving and island identity, here; it’s not that long and is pretty fascinating.


TBT: Chiengora

The first time I heard of anyone spinning dog hair into yarn and then using it to knit with was when I was in elementary school in the 80s. We had new neighbors build a house on the hill above ours; they brought 3 fluffy Samoyeds that terrorized our indoor/outdoor cats. Mr. S wore hats and mittens that Mrs. S knit using yarn made from the dog’s fur. I was fascinated and a little disgusted (and probably more than a little angry that the dogs treed our kitties regularly.)

When I learned to spin in 2009, I was so obsessed with the process that I quickly used up the wool friends had given me to practice with and looked for other things to spin, like cotton balls. Once I ran out of those, I started eyeing Moose, our black retriever mix; parts of his coat are 3-4″ long. I dutifully from brushed him out a few times, washed the loose fur, and spun a little bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the results and I didn’t like them enough to keep them or use them.

Since then, I’ve heard lots and lots of tales of people spinning their pet’s fur. I supposed angora bunnies count, but that was a known quantity to me and not so unusual. Anyway, all of my disgust for this is gone. It seems like a pretty poignant way to remember a treasured pet and you can’t beat the wow factor of explaining where a particular fiber came from.

This brings me to the TBT part of this post. Chiengora isn’t a new or unusual thing. In fact, there was a dog bred to produce textiles. The Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest spun dog hair blended with other fiber and made blankets (and, I’m guessing, other textiles as well).

“A Woman Weaving a Blanket,” Songhees/Saanich (Central Coast Salish), Paul Kane (1810 Mallow, Ireland–1871 Toronto, Canada), Oil on canvas, 45.3 x 73.8 cm, Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum description of the painting:

“The men wear no clothing in summer, and nothing but a blanket in winter, made either of dog’s hair alone, or dog’s hair and goosedown mixed, frayed cedar bark, or wildgoose skin, like the Chinooks. They have a peculiar breed of small dogs with long hair of a brownish black and a clear white. These dogs are bred for clothing purposes. The hair is cut off with a knife and mixed with goosedown and a little white earth, with a view of curing the feathers. This is then beaten together with sticks, and twisted into threads by rubbing it down the thigh with the palm of the hand, in the same way that a shoemaker forms his waxend, after which it undergoes a second twisting on a distaff to increase its firmness. The cedar bark is frayed and twisted into threads in a similar manner. These threads are then woven into blankets by a very simple loom of their own contrivance. A single thread is wound over rollers at the top and bottom of a square frame, so as to form a continuous woof through which an alternate thread is carried by the hand, and pressed closely together by a sort of wooden comb; by turning the rollers every part of the woof is brought within reach of the weaver; by this means a bag is formed, open at each end, which being cut down makes a square blanket. The women wear only an apron of twisted cedar bark shreds, tied round the waist and hanging down in front only, almost to the knees. They however, use the blankets more than the men do.” (Paul Kane, “Wanderings of an Artist,” 1859:210–211)


Wordless Wednesday: Felt Moss Garden

Beaded Moss


Wordless Wednesday: Herringbone Knit Stitch Texture

Herringbone knit stitch texture on both sides of the finished fabric.