‘Things In General’ Update

We just got back from our little road trip, cut a day short by a flu bug. My Man got it yesterday, and was puking out the tent door. Never fun.

I’ve been meaning for awhile to institute weekly, or at least regular, updates on Things In General. I get all lost in my over-thought subject posts, and forget to let you all know what I’m up to and how I am. I used to fantasize about writing to enrich the world with my hard-won (half)knowledge. But I have come to terms with the fact that there are plenty of other places in this enormous blog-o-sphere to get better directions on making your own soap, bread and yogurt. The only unique thing I have to offer the world is my own unique self. And while y’all might be interested in my soap making adventures, I suspect you come back because of my winning personality and stunning social graces.

Errr… Because you are curious about what hilarity The Toddler is creating in the other room as I write?


Ok then, let me share with you the first day of our (3 day) road trip. After a morning of running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to pack for a three night camping trip with a two year old and a six month old, we finally made it into the car. But then, of course, came the stops. The grocery store for a few last items. The smoke shop for My Man. The gas station to tank up. Finally, ready to roll. Except how do we get OUT of this god-forsaken city?!

Then, the driving at high speeds, the confusing signage, the wrong turns, the swearing.

Finally, on the freeway, heading north. The Toddler says,

“My belly hurts.”

A minute later, and a bit more urgency, “My belly hurts.”

Another minute. In the front seat there is much pointed ignoring of the gathering information.

“My belly hurts!”


I managed to get a cup under the flow in time to catch the last of it. But the first of it went– oh you parents out there, you know where.

How in the hell are you supposed to clean car seats anyway?

So we are on the side of the freeway for some 15 or 20 minutes, while I try to clean the puke out of the nooks and crannies of the relevant buckles and straps. Because nothing makes you want to puke like the smell of puke, am I right?

Almost two hours after leaving the house, we are finally on our way.

Homochitto National Forest, in Mississippi. An old campground in the woods, on a swampy lake. Great combination of nature and man made. Pure pleasant. Warm sun through the trees, nice breezes, no bugs miraculously. We lolled.

I played with fire in my twig stove and read Radical Homemakers with gusto, every chance I could get. She is a little over the top defensively researched, sometimes it reads a bit like a dissertation, but the stuff she’s talking about is fantastic. Unsaid, and really needs saying. And it must be scary to put yourself out there like she has, breaking taboos and stuff. I can see why she’d want to have a heap of backup. But it is sad that she has to use what I consider the male system of facts, figures, clinical research and statistics to defend what I consider the female system of intuitive care and nurture.

I’ll post more about the book soon. Promise. My head is literally swimming with thoughts on it. But back to my week in review!

Unfortunately My Man, who did not fare so well as the Toddler with her singular puking episode, could not much enjoy the third day out. So, we came home early. I spent Wednesday unpacking and cleaning. Yesterday gave My Man a day of his own, and today is my very own. Supposedly. You know, as much as a nursing mama can hope for.

And as much as the wife of a night owl/late sleeper can hope for…. He did manage to pull himself up by 8:45, which is really great. And I split ASAP, to my fave coffee joint for some writing.

Next on the agenda, transplant my starts, which are all big and ready, to my community garden plot! Which is sure to make me very happy.

And that’ll probably be as far as I get.

…But if I did have any more time, I’d weave a little. Because yes, I did finally re-warp my loom last week, after yet another ripping out of a project that wasn’t working and I swear I will not try to use a shaggy warp again! Really, I promise. Okay, fine. Actually, I restrung it with a shaggy warp. But! I’m following a pattern this time. The warp is shaggy and sticky, but skinny and far spaced. And the weave is super loose. It’s meant to look lacey. The yarn is one of those super divine luxury yarns, mohair and silk, expensive, but at such a light weave, not bad for the overall project.

Day 10: Making Mistakes

How come so few people ever talk about their failures? Not only is failure often darn good entertainment, it’s an essential part of the learning/growing/living process. I can say all this with authority, because I am the type of person often paralyzed by the fear of failure. It’s unfortunate. Imagine how much I could accomplish if I could bottle up all that fear and pitch it out the window of a fast moving train!

As my dad always said, “Your successes cannot exceed 50% of your failures, so get out there and fuck up!”

I do my best.

Having woven three beautiful scarves, I was due for some fucking up. And here’s just how it went down.

In the projects book I got with my loom, there was a pattern for some cool looking placemats with a loose and gap-ey weave. The pattern called for stout linen thread. As you may recall I am practically incapable of following recipes, and patterns ditto. I had some gorgeous silk yarn, single spun with wispy threads of every color going every which way. The spirit of the yarn went perfectly with the spirit of the pattern, I imagined it was going to be divine. Table runners, I thought, or maybe even wall hangings. I set out to warp the yarn so that I would use the whole skein, and be able to get two finished pieces for x-mas gift giving. This meant that I spent half an hour warping, and the next hour and a half pulling the extra through, bit by bit, to use up the whole skein. Of course it was hard to warp such uneven, rough yarn at all. Let alone pull through several yards of extra. But I forged ahead, straight through knowing I should stop to feed the Toddler, straight through knowing I should stop to feed myself, until we were both on the very cusp of Total Meltdown, but I was finally goddamn done goddamit.

Later on, after beating down the Meltdown Beasts, I returned to my loom with weft in hand. I wove a few rows. Huh. Why does that look…. crappy? … Surely, it’s going to come together in a minute and knock me dead with fabulousness.

I wove a few more rows, and my eyes bagan to narrow. It just looked crappier and crappier. What the fuck?

I set my loom aside, thinking maybe I just had artist’s eye from too much weaving. Next day I came back to confirm my fears. It looked like hell.

I slowly realized that the pattern had used a very clean, tightly spun, single color yarn. More of a stout thread really, not soft, and certainly not scraggly. With this type of thread, the loose pattern of gaps was an obvious pattern, and looked fabulous. But, although the rustic unfinished look of my silk yarn was lovely in the skein, combined with the gap-ey pattern, it just looked like a really bad weaving job. Like a big ugly mess of yarn.

So. This morning, for the first time of doubtlessly many, I unstrung my loom. Having already cut the warps, I couldn’t just roll the yarn back up into a ball for use in another project, boo hoo.

The good news is, I have another Big Idea. I got it when I was warping up all that psychedelic yarn.

And now I can’t wait for Mardi Gras, cuz that shit’s gonna make a wicked cool wig.

Day 4: Where Obsession Can Get You

Finished my first scarf on the new loom. Took me two days. And that’s with kiddlets. It’s great. I used a deep red/copper variegated yarn for the warp, and a heathery brownish-gray for the weft. But more than liking the scarf itself, the important thing is that yes, I still love my new loom. I’m already scheming future projects, especially ones I can do with the big bag of yarn the MIL already has!

It snowed here. A few inches, with a glassy, crispy crust on top. Took the toddler out this morning to frolic. Adorable. The weird flu bug I brought with me (first I had a killer headache, then sore throat so bad I thought maybe it was tonsilitis, then body aches like crazy) caught up to Grandma, so I’m back to solo kid duty. Got a batch of bread dough rising. Annoyed at the Babe for not staying asleep in his crib for any length of time so I can start a new project. Almost feels like home!

Sorry for the quickie posts. I had imagined having more time/desire for the computer while here, but not so much of either.

Happy Snow!

Day 2 and 3: Excuse Me While I Throw My Shuttle

That’s right dear readers, I’m a weaver! I can use words like “shuttle” with abandon. If you weave, you might even know what the hell I’m talking about!

Got me a gorgeous little 12 inch Ashford rigid heddle tabletop loom yesterday. Or rather my parents-in-law bought it for me for as an early x-mas present. I warped it this morning, and I’ve got a good 10 inches of red and gray scarf woven already. I am sooooo excited. Geez. Realized yesterday morning when I woke up, and couldn’t care less about glomming onto the computer first thing (like I’ve been doing for months) how much some new and interesting learning project like this has been lacking from my life. There is just nothing like learning, discovering, creating.

I haven’t figured out how to get pictures up yet. Luddite that I am, I don’t have my own laptop (gasp!), so I have to make do with the in-laws computer. Not that it’s inferior, it’s a perfectly fancy mac. But I’m just intimidated by all things electronic, and it’s not the exact system I’m familiar with, so it sets me back with dread. I’ll tackle it soon, so’s y’all can see the sexy new love of my life.

I have to say– okay, I’m only 10 inches in, but so far– it’s everything I’d hoped for! As I throw the shuttle back and forth, I’m trying to figure out why weaving is my fiber craft, not knitting, not crocheting, not spinning, not felting. ‘Cuz boy are the first two so much cheaper to get into, so much more portable and logistically simple. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

1. I’m a control freak. Yeah, I’ll admit it. When I think of spinning, and I did try my hand at it once, I get a panic attack. All those fibers. You just can’t tame them all. A good spinner has to just let those fibers flow through her fingers with a certain release. You can’t make every inch of yarn perfect. And in fact, the most beautiful yarns are not remotely perfect. It’s the irregularity that makes them so appealing. But though I can appreciate it, I can never let go for stuff like that. With knitting not as much, but still true. My first few years of knitting, the reason I didn’t like it was because I sat there with gritted teeth, trying to wrestle that yarn into obedience, with impossibly tight stitches (sometimes so tight I couldn’t fit the damn needle in, and had to pry open a space) and a searing neck ache. After giving it up for a few years, I was able to come back to it with a relaxed neck, and loose stitches. But I still find it kind of annoyingly unmasterable.

Not that my weaving rows are so pretty, whoo boy. But there seems the possibility for control with weaving that other fiber arts don’t offer. And that the control won’t ruin the beauty of the piece, or cause my neck permanent damage…

2. I like stuff I can do in recognizable chunks. Like do one big thing, then be done with that for awhile. With knitting (which I did try hard to like, over the course of more than ten years) you cast on, then it’s pretty much the same thing till you’re done. I mean, one stitch from another– not a big difference. Pretty much the same action. And it goes slow. I know there are speed knitters out there, I’ve watched in awe as whole socks popped out of those damn needles. But, you’re never gonna beat a weaver. Weaving starts with warping your loom, which takes a significant amount of time. Then you get to do the actual weaving, which goes fast. Then the cutting from the loom and finishing. Three significantly different activities. Which makes it seem not to drag on so much as knitting.

3. Though I can really appreciate the simplicity of being able to create clothing with two little sticks and a ball of yarn, I also do love a brilliantly designed non-electric tool. Looms, especially the small ones, are a beautiful balance of human engineering. Just complex enough to do a job gorgeously well, but not so complicated that it takes an expert to operate one.

4. Lastly, I love woven wool. Don’t know why, but the look and feel of it just does me in! I swoon.

So, that’s it. My new love affair revealed.

Now, excuse me while I go throw my shuttle.