Greetings, fellow knitty-fiends! I realize it’s been a while since I put something up in this space, but I’ve been busy, in ways I didn’t intend to be. Quite a few things happened over the summer, but what really took up a lot of head space for me was losing my mother. She died in June, and I spent (and spend) a lot of time processing her death.
The hardest part is going through all of her things. Like me, she was artistic, and I’ve been going through her paints and projects, many unfinished. It’s the unfinished ones that really hurt the most to find. Some of it’s glorious, some of it’s awful, and it takes time to really sort everything out. There’s also huge tubs full of movies. so many movies. And mostly, except for the odd animated film, the kind of wonderfully grody, cheapy-budget horror films we both loved so much. I now have every Saw movie, however many they made so far. And other great movies I’m looking forward to watching, like, “Doll Graveyard” and “My Mom Was a Werewolf.” There’s also loads of books, also mostly scary horror or weirdo mystery or funky things Nostradamus said.
But the unfinished projects are the saddest.
At one point I couldn’t look at the unfinished crocheted farmer couple she had been working on any more, and busted out some of her yarns to crochet tentacles for the lady’s unfinished legs. Oddly enough, not only did it make me feel a little better, but the couple looked much more…interesting…
And while I have a photo to share of the couple, It’s not loading right at the moment, and the dolls themselves are in a huge stack of boxes by the china hutch… Yes people, we’re moving! To a larger house with a very nice attic space that will become my new craftroom. It’s a very bright spot after some very dark times.
But there’s still lots of packing to get through first. Le siiiigh…
Hello there! Yes, there’s more blathering about the perils of tip-toeing down the perfidous path of knitting! You poor darlings!…
Chapter 6: The Gauge Swatch.
So now you’ve been knitting for a little while, and you’re feeling confident! You can cast on like a pro, you have stopped dropping stitches and your garter stitch is nice and even. So’s your stockingette. You can purl with the best of them. Your pot holders and scarves are wonders of knitting to behold. And you no longer have the new-knitter tight-clutch anymore. Not you! And you’ve become so confident with your knitting prowess that you look at helpful instructions about gauge swatches and are all, “Hah! I don’t need to do that! That’s for the noobs! Not me! My gauge is clearly 4 stitches to the inch on size 8 needles with worsted! Perfect!”
Oh, you poor doomed soul…
1: Start a fun sweater pattern with unfamiliar yarn you just brought home. Look at the gauge measurements and go, “Eh. That’s pretty much what I knit anyway. I don’t need to eat up time making a gauge swatch I don’t need.”
2: Snuggle the yarn. It such pretty yarn. It cries out to be a sweater! *your* sweater! Right now! Right this second!!
3: Cast on with wild abandon and start some ribbing. Stop two rows in and think, “Huh, these stitches are a little stretchy. But it’s ribbing, it should be fine. I think I need a glass of wine!”
4: Pour yourself half a bottle of wine and put on The Craft. Knit happily for several hours. Notice the yarn is sliding a bit loosely, but merrily knit on. Marvel on how the wine keeps your fingers nice and loose while you knit.
5: Finish off the wine and yell happily at the movie. Cheer on the magical catfight at the end. Then look down at the cosy knitting on your lap and realise it’s HUUUUUUGE…
6: Curse at your wine-sozzled fingers. Curse at the movie you were enjoying so much 5 seconds ago. Curse at the pretty, pretty yarn and the pretty, pretty circus tent you’ve been making all this time. Curse at the ghost of Elizabeth Zimmerman, who so sweetly kept reminding you to do that gauge swatch before you got all crazy with that yarn. Curse curse curse!
7: Should you rip it out? Should you rip it out? Should you? You should, you know. Frog that bastard and start over. All the way over. Correctly. Like the knitting badass you know you are. You can do it. Even though it’s hours out of your life. And that sweet magical catfight you watched. It’s there, right where the stitches got extra loose. You were laughing so hard, and that was the last glass of wine, too. Man, that was good stuff…
8: Keep knitting anyway. Decide instead of a shapely pullover it’s going to be a tunic. Keep hearing the psycho mom from Carrie chanting, “They’re all going to laugh at you…they’re all going to laugh at you…” Stubbornly plug on. Of course, now your gauge is too tight because you’re wound up. Try not to get too tight on the neck ribbing. Mutter evil things to yourself…
9: After much cursing, another couple of nights with wine and more horribly funny schlocky movies, you’re done! With your circus tent! That has bits that seem too tight!! Hear the sweet voice of Elizabeth Zimmerman in your head, reassuring you that blocking can fix a lot of things. Hope to hell she’s right, or you’re going to go find her grave and yell at it for a while. She’d understand. She was that kind of lady.
10: The tunic, after blocking, is…really not that bad, actually. Friends compliment it, and really appreciate that off-the-shoulder look you’ve got going there. Smile graciously. Smile nervously. Promise the ghost of Elizabeth Zimmerman a nice bottle of wine if she won’t tell the other knitters the truth. And for each and every new project, a gauge swatch shall be knit. Pinky swear…
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…)
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…”
Ghost:”Get ouuuut….Seriously, more special effects are coming if you don’t leave. Oozy, grody special effects. Get ouuuuuuut…
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.*
Lucille: “WHO WANTS TEA?! EDITH, DRINK IT, DRINK THE TEA! TEA IS HAPPENING, PEOPLE!”
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!!
Recently a friend of mine had given me the remains of her yarn stash. She’s had some serious medical issues, so she doesn’t really crochet or spin anymore, which is a crying shame. She also gave me her old Kromski wheel to fix up. It used to belong to another friend who wanted to be a spinner but lost interest, and it had been in boxes for a good long while. Of course I felt protective of it the red-hot minute it came into the house…
The poor thing came to my house with a broken bobbin, several pegs missing, a part of a metal cable tying her treadle to her driveshaft, no flywheel…and no legs. No legs?! Zero legs!!
Happily, the flywheel and two of the legs turned up in another box. The flywheel has a big chip out of the side, like somebody dropped something heavy on it. As for that third leg Matt was sweet enough to cut down a dowel to the right size. At first we thought it would be a temporary leg until I could get a new one from Kromski. (I’ve heard glowing tales about their customer service; getting new parts shouldn’t be a problem.) But the more I looked at it, the more I became enamored of that goofy wooden leg…and named her Pirate Peg. And immediately started thinking of modifications for her–a new tension knob with a skull on it, copper around the bottom of the peg leg and a garter around the top to hold her orifice hook, black and walnut and cream and possibly gold leaf in a paint job that would wow anybody who saw her.
At first I had doubts. Would this be too silly, even for me? So I talked to various fiber artists of my aquaintance who unanimously responded with gleeful enthusiasm. “Yes! Oh God, yes! Holy crap, this must be a thing! Where will you put the eyepatch?! Will there be a flag? Yarrrrr!!” and so on and so forth. Nothing makes a weird idea better than more happy weirdos who like it too.
So I spun up a little yarn on Pirate Peg to see how she did. Even without her tension knob and that flywheel chip, she made some lovely, lovely yarn. And lots of it, 110 yards of fluffy orange fun!
So this weekend between other things, I’ll give Peg a little lick of paint and sculpt some wood putty into the flywheel chip. And think piratey thoughts…Yarrrrr….
It’s been a little while since I posted here. Life just got a little more hectic recently, with projects and and whatnot. I also…heh…got engaged. I’m very happy about it all. Of course, now I’m thinking about things I’d never really considered before. Are there registries that aren’t specifically full of beige-colored towels? (Apparently there are. I still have to go digging around for them, though.) What will I do about a dress? How much cake? What kind of cake? And how many Gothly decorations can I bust out at the reception? (Quite a few, actually.) Do I change my name, and to what? Sadly, even though it would be perfectly legal, my sweetie put his foot down at being called Mr. and Mrs. Dracula. *sigh* Another dream shot down…
Meanwhile, a dear friend of mine brought me a very interesting bag. Cornelia had been traveling through Scotland recently, and spent some time happily wandering around the sheep-filled heather, plucking bits of wool off the fences here and there. People used to do this sort of thing all the time to get a little wool to spin up; it’s the original meaning of the term, “woolgathering.” When she came home, she presented me with a nice fully Ziplock full of soft plushy wool…
The wool smelled wonderful, all heathery and peaty. I kept inhaling the scent while Cornelia told me with a grin, “That, my dear, is what Scotland smells like!” Scotland smells this good? Wowwwww… I gleefully showed off my bag to my boss at work, who is very pro-Scotland. After happily squishing the wool and huffing it, he asked if he could keep a pinch, for the innate Scottishness. Of course I let him. How often do you get to snort another country at work and have it be legal?
So now I’ve been spinning it all up. I hand-carded the wool that very night, and chose my nice heavy Ashford spindle to do my spinning. For some reason spindle spinning just seemed right with something like this. The sort of thing someone would do while walking a hedgerow, woolgathering…
What will I do with the yarn once I’m done spinning? Hard to say. I’m guessing once plied up there will be enough for maybe a couple of sachet bags or some cool cabled bracelets. If I need more, I’ll have to talk Cornelia into going back to Scotland to gather some more wool for me. I may have to go with her, for ummm…quality control. Yeah. That’s it…