All posts by mausi

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting: (With yarn. and swearing. And possibly booze.)

As a lark recently, and to vent about a knitting project I was struggling with, I put up a little chapter in an imaginary book about knitting. It turned out to be a big, big hit, so I suspect I might actually have to *make* this book in the very near future. I should warn you; when you see chapters, they will be out of sequence. Because most knitters tend to jump around in handy guides to knitting, forward and back, to find that one helpful thing they need that now they absolutely cannot find. If you’re a knitter, you’ll definitely understand…

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting, Chapter 5: Hats…

Pick out several pretty yarns for your project, realise none of them go together. Swear under your breath.

Knit the band slightly too tightly, with nice bamboo needles. Curse a little, undo the stitches, start over. Repeat at least twice.

Question your choice of yarn. Question your choice of needles. Question your skills as a knitter. Switch over to slidey aluminum needles

Just as you’re getting into the zone, watch your stitches slide off your slidey needles. Swear like a sailor. Swear like an annoyed sailor. Swear like an annoyed sailor who picked the wrong bloody needles. Rearrange the whole yarny mess in your lap so it doesn’t slither away. Refuse to change needles, because you can make this work, right? Right? Right!?

Finally get to the decreases on the top. Feel like you’ve climbed Mount Everest with nothing but a salad fork. Hope like hell it won’t ladder much. Punch the air in victory…And remember you still have to embroider stuff on it. Arrrgh…

…The hat? Turned out great, actually. Never let anybody tell you that you can’t get anything done while swearing, because it just isn’t so…

Pink and gray hat, inward swearing.
See the expression on my face? You can see the inward cussing, even after it turned out pretty nicely, actually…

Brains? Brains!! Braiiiiiins!!!

It’s been a hectic month, with not much posting from Yours Truly. I have a pretty good excuse, though–I got married! And so far, married life is pretty wonderful, with loads of great surprises. And more than a little paperwork. Eh, whaddaya do?

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to get some normal Maus stuff back on track, and dyed up some roving this morning. A coworker had given me her late mother’s fiber stash, along with several very nice balls of white milled wool. They looked like they would take dye very well, so I mixed up some black and red Jaquard dyes for a nice blended black-cherry sort of thing…

Black Cherry Roving
The roving turned out really nice, good and saturated!

While I was adding the red dyes, the pot looked rather…ominous…

Gory wool
What’s in that pot, Maus? What is it? Wool, you say? You sure? It looks…not good…

Sure enough, the minute I put up the photo on my facebook page, all my friends started weighing in with, “That looks…gory!” “It looks like brains!” “Entrails!” “Don’t lie to us, Ms Maus, you put brains in there, didn’t you?” “Brains!!”

So, for the record, I did not stick brains, entrails, or any other unnatural substance in with my lovely, gory looking wool. Because then it would be terribly sticky and hard to clean. Also hard to spin and knit. Gore is nobody’s friend in the fiber arts, my darlings.  Though what goes into my gumbo recipes? Wellllll…



Crimson Peak: The snarked Mausi version, part 1…

crimson peak
I just have to say, this hallways is just one big Gothic swoooooon…

From time to time I veer away from my other goofy projects to write things. Horrible things. Things that probably don’t need writing. This synopsis for Crimson Peak is one of them, written on a quiet day at the Mines on many smallish scraps of notepaper. Disclaimer: I love this film,in all it’s Gothic glory, and I love Guillermo Del Toro. And yet there is snark. The snarking comes from love. Also, spoilers aplenty!!

~Crimson Peak, a Cautionary Tale for Young Impressionable Victorian Ladies with Hearts of Gold~

*There is whiteness, a field of blowing snow, and a bloodstained Mia Wasikowska stares out with stricken eyes*

“There are ghosts…I have always been able to see them. Usually at awkward moments when I’m having a bath or trying really hard to get some sleep…”

*A tiny Victorian child is grieving for her dead mother in her luxurious Victorian bedroom, when a dark, oozy spectre enters the room and whispers, “Don’t gooooo to Crimson Peak…sorry about the oozing…”*

Several years later~

“Hi, I’m Edith Cushing! I’m well off, beloved by my dad and my smoking hot childhood friend, and I’m an aspiring writer! I’m off to talk to a publisher about my ghost story!”

–Mean Girls of 1882: “Hisssssss”

Publisher: “Well, since you’re a girl and have superb penmanship, you gotta sex this manuscript up. Sorry!”

Edith: Dad, I can’t believe it! They want a love story, ugh. I’m not putting in some swoony male lead just to get people to see my work! I want to write bold, dashing tales of ghosts and tentacles and eldrich horrors beyond imagining!”

Edith’s Dad: “Hey, everybody loves a good star-crossed romance! And look, I made you a nice, sturdy pen! Just look at how sharp that nib is!”

Edith: “No, thanks. I’m going to type this instead. No way will I need this awesome pen in the nearish future!”

Dad: “Aww, but I sharpened the nib special!

(Edith tippy taps some keys in the main office and in looms someone tall, dark and Victorian)

Edith: “Hello! Are you late? My dad hates that. And he hates when you’re early too. And you’re Tom Hiddleston, which he’s really going to dislike. But I don’t. At all. Heh.”

Sir Thomas Sharpe, Baronet of Allerdale:  “Is this your writing? It’s completely amazing!”

Edith: “Wow, your speed-reading skills are what’s amazing, I mean you just picked that up a second ago!”

~A Meeting Hall Full of Bearded Gentlemen~

Thomas: “I have excellent clay! Rich, red and oddly sinister! Fund my clever Clay-o-matic, and you’ll all be rich! Like the oozy, blood-like clay!”

Edith’s Dad: “Sir you’ve tried to raise funds in London, Edinborough, and Milan, and failed. And you have soft, soft hands that have never held tools like hammers or knives or large rusty hatchets. And your clay is burbling like a lava-lamp over there. So…no.”

~At the Cushing Home~

Edith’s Dad: “You’re sure you’re not coming to the ball? Your doctorish childhood friend with the unrequited crush is going, and his mother and sisters can’t wait to hiss at you!”

Edith: “I’ll pass. I’m just going to lounge around in my frilliest nightgown, Jane Austen style, with loads of books and paper. Seriously, it’s like there’s a library in this bed.”

Edith’s Ghost-Mom: “My beloved child, don’t go to Crimson Peak! Don’t marry that handsome British fellow! He and his sister are craaaaaaazy! Don’t doooooo it!!”

Edith: “Funny all I hear is, “Don’t go to Crimson Peak, blah blah Tom Hiddleston Hottie hot blah.”

Edith’s Maid: “BTW, Baron Sexypants is downstairs and super-wet. From waiting in the rain. To escort you to the ball.”

(30 seconds of frenzied primping later, and possibly help from talking mice:)

Edith’s Dad and Childhood Friend: “You look wonderful!!!”

Mean Girls of 1882: “Hisssss”

Lady Lucille Sharp of Allendale, sister of Thomas: *Plays the piano in a dragon-gown she looted from “The Cell” and hides huge ring the color of bloooood.*

Thomas: “Edith! Dance with me!”

Edith:”But the mean girl on my left is aching to and she’s been chasing you for weeks!”

Mean Girl: *Horrid side-eye*

Edith: “I’m in. Throw down some fancy Baron dance moves, tiger!”

*The candle in their conjoined hands bursts into flames from the glares coming from all sides–dad, childhood pal, mean girls and Lucille.*

~A Romantic Walk in a Park~

*Edith and Thomas walk in the buttery, buttery sunshine. Thomas scurries off with Edith’s new “love story added” manuscript while Lucille keeps Edith company…*

Lucille, stroking dying butterflies: “We don’t have butterflies at home. All we have are moths.  Big, scary moths that thrive in the cold and damp.”

Edith: “What do they eat?”

Lucille: *strokes Edith’s face with butterfly corpse*  “Butterflies. And sweaters. You should see the holes they’ve eaten in mine. No wool is safe!”

~A Dinner with Dad~

Edith’s Dad: “Alright, Sharpe Sibs, listen up. I did some digging, and I expected something shady, but this is way beyond the pale! Holy crap, you guys! What the HELL is WRONG with you people?!”

Thomas: “You won’t tell Edith, will you? Or the audience?”

Dad: “No. But you’re both leaving, tomorrow. Here’s a check. And you, Baron Hotstuff, will break Edith’s heart. Hard, so she won’t go running after you even if something horrible happens to me!”

(Naturally, after the heart-breaking and the quick “your dad made me do it” post-it Thomas added to Edith’s returned manuscript, something horrible did indeed happen to Edith’s dad…)

~The Funeral~

Edith: *Weeps*

Childhood friend: *Cautious Head nod*

Thomas: *Sinister head nod*

Edith: *Has giant red ring on her hand*

Goth Girls Across the Land: “I don’t see why Lucille made such a big deal about that ring; you can get those off Etsy for $20 a pop.”

~Welcome Home, Edith!~

Thomas: “We’re home! Welcome to you spooky, dilapidated mansion! It has all the conveniences, like picturesque holes in the ceiling! And leaves falling in artful ways, even though there are zero trees for miles! And oozy, blood-red clay coming out anywhere it can, and bathwater that runs red!  Also, the house moans, groans, sighs, clanks and shrieks! There’s sharp, spikey decorative touches everywhere, and well, I hope you have your tetanus shots…”

Edith: “Oh look! An abandoned Papillion puppy! Such sweet, innocent symbolism! Can we keep it?”

Lucille: “Ohhhhh…it’s you. Welcome, I guess. See these clanky house keys? You’re so not getting any. But you will be getting lots and lots of tea!” *Hugs Thomas. A lot. Really, quite a lot.*

~Later, in the Sinister Bloodbath~

Edith: “What the…who the hell is playing fetch with the dog?”

Spooky Red Ghost: “I miss my doooooog. Little snoogums…”

Edith: “What?!?”

Ghost:”Get ouuuut….Seriously, more special effects are coming if you don’t leave. Oozy, grody special effects. Get ouuuuuuut…

~Next Morning~

Lu: “Hi there! Here’s some more tea! Lovely tea! And a naughty book! But I’m sure it’s no shock to you because you DID IT ALREADY, DIDN’T YOU? DIDN’T YOU? DID YOU?!?!”

Edith: “Um, no…Thomas respected my mourning and no. Sadly, regretfully, no.”

The Entire Internet; *pouts*

Lu:”GOOD! I mean, good. Yes. Everything is going to be fine. Enjoy your tea!”

~In the Gorgeous, Gorgeous Moth-riddled Workshop~

*After a hot makeout session with the wife, Thomas freezes in panic as Lu comes up the elevator with a full tray of cups, saucers, tongs, kettle, strainer, but no sugar, lemon or those little petit fours I like.*


Thomas: *Secret Facepalm*

~Meanwhile in Buffalo, NY, at the Cushing house~

Childhood Friend: *Looking at copies of a newspaper headline and a suspicious document* “Holy crap!!”

~Night at Allerdale Hall~

*Edith is coughing up blood, alone in her bed. She wanders out to one of the hallways, with some helpful hints and a quick jump-scare or two from the ghost.*

Edith:”Wax cannisters hidden in a closet?  And a hidden locked suitcase with “Enola” embossed on it? Am I in a Scooby Doo episode or something?”

Ghost #2 *staggers through the hall towards Edith* “Get Ouuuut, you silly girl! How many hints do you need, anyway? You see how stabbed I am? Stabbing will totally happen if you don’t! Get! Ouuuuut!”


~The Sexy Post Office~

Edith: “Thanks for getting me out of that house for a day. I really needed to get away from the ghostiness. And the dead insects. And the live insects. And the tea. I’m really starting to hate tea…”

Postie:”Mail call! Some letters from America, and Milan!”

Edith: “Milan? Didn’t Thomas go to–oh, yeah, sure, I can take that letter. Milan, yeah.”

Postie: “Hey, look, it’s a big cosy snow storm! Why don’t you crazy kids stay in our charmingly rustic room overnight? Because, you know, sexytimes…”*Cough cough*

The Entire Internet: “Yay, finally! WHOOOO!”


Coming up soon, Part Two of our charming saga…with tea! Lots and lots of tea!!








Fuchsia shock…

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated. But it’s also a little easier now, since we made a few changes here to make it more readable. I’ve got a new computer to play with, too. I call it the Dreaded Grey Beastie, because it is.  A useful, helpful beast, too…

Meanwhile, even though it’s the heat of summer, I’ve still been spinning a lot. Mostly to help me relax. Every time I check the news there’s new reasons to unplug and do something else for a while.  I’ve been spinning magenta and fuchsia yarns, with lots of sparkle and fluff.

Fuchsia yarn
Fuchsia merino and angora yarn with sparkles

It seems my hunger for this color is shared by lots of people. When I bring a spindle to work, my coworkers glom onto the bright color. I sold the yarn in the photo, and people asked for more like it. I’ve already had to dye another kettleful of this shade, and now I’m out of magenta dye. (Which means I have to brave the big, gorgeous selections of Halcyon Yarns to get more. *mock sobbing*)

You think I’d get tired of this particular color…but funny enough, I’m not. Not even close. It’s just so hypnotically attractive.

Yesss….good…let the Hypnoyarn fill your mind…

I must be out of my mind, spinning all this wool in July.  But–but–fuchsia!!

Knitting in the workplace…

See this pretty thing?

Danse macabre
The darkest dark, the reddest red, the sparkliest sparkly!!

It started it’s dark and sparkly life in a basement of a museum, surrounded by coffee and polyester sweaters and noise.  Lots and lots of noise…

Breaktime Knitting
Not pictured: a handheld radio, a cup of tea, gurgling pipes overhead and my frowny little face as I try to concentrate…

I usually bring knitting to my job, to help me unwind between breaks and to sneak a little time into my various projects. More often than not it’s something I spun up myself that demands to be made into something right this minute. Yarn can be pushy like that. So very pushy. This yarn was a dark black, red and white spiral-ply I spun up from one of the beautiful batts at Butterflygirl Designs on Etsy. I’ve bought from her for years, and her goods are always so good. One of the nice things about handspun yarn is that you can keep your stitches pretty simple and let the yarn do all the work of being pretty…

Workplace knitting has it’s own challenges. It’s noisier than home, of course. There’s lots of traffic, and the possibility of spills, crumbs, overcurious coworkers poking at your project, moving it or distracting you enough to drop a stitch or two. I’ve lost count of the times on a break where I answer a workplace question while my hands are moving, and when I look down…I messed up that yarn over. Again. Drat it all. And I mutter quietly to myself when I think nobody can hear me. (But of course my coworkers can totally hear me. I can tell by the snickering)

Then there are the usual jokes.  Requests to knit whole sweaters for 20 bucks, or nothing. Various eyerolls, “only grandmas knit” or “knitting nerd” comments. The occasional vampire-slayer remarks. (I actually like these remarks because I get to brandish a knitting needle in a mildly threatening fashion.) But sometimes there are the people who sidle over and gently pet the yarn, or ask if I have time to crank out some wristwarmers for them, or can I make a goofy gutmonster for a birthday or something. I love these people.They get extra guts in their knitted gutmonsters.

Mostly I just like the peace. After I get into the groove a little bit, I can float right off into a nice soft realm of stitches and fluffy textures and away from the workaday life for a little while. I feel a little more rested on a break where I’m working on something. And when I’m finished, I just glow with a little well-earned pride. A moment in a gloomy basement redolent with the smell of burned coffee and old pizza can be the brightest part of my day when I bind off that last stitch…