Category Archives: weirdo art yarn

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…

 

 

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.

Hypnoyarn
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…

 

 

If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!

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…

Scottish fluff!
A wonderful bag full of Scottish fluff!

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…

Scottish yarn
A spindle full of Scotland! Well, maybe not full, not yet…

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…

 

 

Hester Hestia, the Rescue Wheel…

Over the years of going from happy experimenter to serious spinner, I’ve collected a few things here and there…3 wheels, loads of fiber and more spindles than you can shake a stick at. (And I can. Because they’re made of sticks. Heh.) But my first and most abiding love is my first spinning wheel, dubbed Hester Hestia…

Hester Hestia
Hester Hestia, my first spinning wheel. She’s a Seventies beauty, new when bellbottoms, Boogie Fever and Macrame were still a thing…

My friends on Nicollet Island discovered her in the basement of one of the old Victorian houses in the neighborhood. They knew I had just started teaching myself how to spin, so they gave her to me to play with. Hestia was beautiful, but daunting, and badly battered. She was missing parts, her only bobbin was broken, her wheel had started to separate, some rotten kid had drawn on her with a ballpoint pen, and some anonymous thing or things had chewed on her treadle. She was in rough shape.

Over time, I fixed her up. It wasn’t easy…in fact, I nearly gave up on her more than once. Maybe she was too broken. Maybe I was just too stupid about this sort of thing. I had only the vaguest knowledge about how a spinning wheel worked. There were all kinds of funky looking hooks and knobs and such. Terrifying for a very, very VERY new spinner…

Hester's flywheel
The business end of Hester…complete with spinny thing, scary hooks, weird bungee thing, bobbiny-dealio, weirdo hooky support thingies, and the Knob of Mystery…

But Halcyon Yarns had all kinds of great information, and I quickly learned about my new prize. She was an Ashford Traditional from the Seventies, made about the same time I was born. I could still get parts, and bobbins–lots and lots of bobbins! One of her support hooks was missing, so I crafted a new one out of an old metal hanger. My dad helped me reglue her wheel, and I lubed her up, waxed her drive band,figured out how her tension worked, and eventually…I could spin with her. She spun wonderfully!  The wheel was nice and heavy enough that you didn’t really have to treadle hard to keep her going.  It was particularly fun with some nice loud Ministry or KMFDM,  treadling fast and spinning nice thin singles in black and red. I was a spinner! A real spinner with a real wheel, like a demented fairy-tale person! And it was amazing!

Over the years, she’s still my best girl. I would say most of the yarns in my Etsy shop come straight from Hester. From time to time, I think about giving her a new coat of varnish, possibly sanding off those cruel pen squiggles and chew marks. But for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to. Good or bad, they were part of Hester’s mysterious history, and it felt wrong to remove them.  Instead I try to give her what she needs–more oil, a little dusting, an hour’s fun with some merino I just bought.  She’s a sweet, crabby beauty and I’d be lost without her…