Saturday, November 27, 2010

Home and the Holidays

Thanksgiving is a difficult thing to celebrate when you're unable to go home. This year was the first year that I didn't go back to my parent's house (or grandparent's house, or aunt's house) to celebrate the holiday with my whole family. Being thousands of miles away made it impossible to make the trip, and coming to that realization was difficult. Much homesickness ensued.

I've been thinking about "home" lately, and where "home" is for me nowadays. For the past four years, "home" has been a number of places: dorm rooms aplenty, an old, school-owned house, and my parent's house over summers and breaks. But now that I've graduated from college, I'm not really sure where to call home. I no longer return to my parents' every few months for movies with my mom and late nights with my brother. And I'm no longer shifting from dorm room to dorm room every few semesters. This place, this half-empty apartment, is my home. And it's strange to claim it as such.

What makes a place home? Is it your things? If so, then my home is halfway in Texas and halfway in Indiana. Is it people? Then my home is scattered across the country, even across the world. Is it where you are? Where you want to be? Is it where your heart is, like the saying says?

These days I don't really know where my heart is. I miss Indiana so much that I want to cry at times, but at the same time I'm starting to appreciate and love Texas. It isn't fair to compare the two, which I did for the first few months. I missed my friends from college, as well as family and friends from my church in Indiana. But now that I'm thinking about going "home" for Christmas, I'm wondering if I actually am going home...or just visiting an old place I used to call home.

I feel like I'm starting to call this home. I'm starting to let myself have roots here, people who I call friends and places that I say are familiar. Though the weather here is a strange, though the people often fit squarely into the cliche, though there is far too much football....I think I'm starting to like it here. Possibly even love it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Addressing the recent GLBT teenagers' suicides

This is a topic that has come up on Facebook, in the news, in forums, and now in class, and so I feel like I need to speak up about it, too.
  • This story of the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate posted a video of him having sex with another male
  • This eighth grader who shot himself in the head after being bullied for acting gay
  • This Indiana teenager who hung himself after being bullied for seeming gay
These are all recent stories I've read. There are more, many more. How many students are bullied each day for who they are, and don't tell their parents? How many people are insulted each day at work or by someone they don't even know? How many people who are already hurting from bullies make the mistake of reading the comments on news articles that tell them that they are "an abomination?"

I was bullied in middle school (who wasn't?). It wasn't for my sexuality. Looking back, it wasn't for any reason at all, other than I was labeled as "different." I liked to write, I zoned out in class and accidentally stared at other students. I had previously enjoyed school. But in middle school, other girls made fun of me because I hadn't started shaving my legs, because I wore the wrong clothes or said the wrong things. They were stupid reasons. Every day I came home and sobbed into my pillow because I didn't know why these kids hated me. I had no friends in seventh grade. The counselor that I spoke to told me to write down in my notebook what the kids did to me. The kids stole the notebook and made my life more miserable.

But it got better. That is the point that so many people are trying to make to the kids who are being bullied these days. IT GETS BETTER. There is a Youtube project right now that is striving to tell this to gay teens who endure daily bullying. Those who were bullied and harassed for their sexuality in the past are filmed telling teenagers just that: that their lives got better. This video in particular is excellent.

I learned very little academically in middle school. Close to nothing, really (which is another issue...). But I did learn that bullies are not worth your time. I didn't learn it from my mother, who told me every day that they only bullied because they were insecure. I learned it from surviving, from going to school each day and coming home and living my life. And I think that if we show these kids, these teenagers proof that there is life beyond middle and high school...then maybe these suicides will stop. Maybe these kids will make it to the next day, and the next, and the next. I have hope for that.

Monday, September 27, 2010


It's midnight. I'm reading for theology, a chapter called "The Meaning of Revelation." The author is discussing how God is hidden from us, and God has hidden in Christ. And then the quote: "God's hiddenness...."

Except it's midnight, and I've been reading for classes all day, so what my brain reads is: "God's hideousness...."

And for a brief moment, my brain thinks "Well then, that must be why God stays hidden."

Maybe I shouldn't be reading theology at midnight.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I was ambitious earlier this summer and decided to look beyond my lovely, wonderful wool. I bought cotton. Soft, beautiful, wonderful cotton. Better for Texas weather, I thought.

Why, oh why did I do it to myself?

I understand now why, whenever they show a cotton mill, the air is full of nasty, nasty cotton bits. It gets everywhere. Stuck on my fingers, my clothes, the fabric from my chair, and in the air. Wool doesn't do that. Wool likes itself. It sticks to itself and doesn't fly around too much.

Since cotton doesn't come from an animal, it doesn't really have fiber length...there are just tiny little bits, less than 1/4 an inch long. Which makes it really really hard to draft and spin.

All throughout the yarn there were big fat slubs and thin strands that would break when they went through my wheel's orifice. I nearly gave up...I felt like I was spinning cotton balls, and couldn't believe they would stay together in the end.

But in the end, when I started to ply it...the cotton charmed me. It's so soft. And the uneven singles were actually turned into a pretty neat looking yarn.

In the end, I was pretty happy. However, I have decided that spinning cotton requires patience, determination, and a good amount of biting back the curses while praying. Or something along those lines. Maybe I'll try it again sometime...maybe.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shalom Cardigan

I know, I know. I'm not supposed to be knitting this much. I should be studying hard and learning all sorts of new things, and telling you all about them. And I promise - I AM learning lots of new, wonderful, confusing things. And I will write about them...when I can wrap my brain around them. Until then, I'm doing a lot of knitting.

I frogged the cardigan I was working on. In the end, it was a bit of a disappointment...there were a lot of shortcomings in it, and I really wouldn't suggest it for a beginner. I'm sure some people would be able to figure it out...but I didn't care to struggle with it. So instead, I found another (free) pattern - Meghan McFarlane's lovely Shalom Cardigan. Here is the direct link to the pattern and her blog if you are interested.

When I went to Knitter's Connection in Columbus, OH this summer, I spoiled myself with some beautiful Briar Rose polywarth roving. Their dyeing is stunning. My mom and friend Hannah have bought their yarn several times, and I've always lusted over it. I was thrilled to find that they sold roving...and had such a hard time deciding! In the end, though, I picked out a lovely blueish greenish wool that reminded me of the pictures you see of Earth from space.

The Shalom Cardigan was perfect for this yarn. I had just a few yards left over, and so nothing was wasted. I managed to spin a lovely worsted-weight, which was a little thin for the pattern, but I used size 11 needles and the gauge was great. If I made this sweater again, I would probably change a few things with the yoke, and add 2 more buttons. I may make it with sleeves.

Here is my end result! I'm very happy. Please ignore the dumb expression on my face....

Will upload more pictures to my Ravelry page later!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rainbow Stitches...finished

I've said this before...but I love this yarn. Kauni is wonderful stuff. Yes, it's slightly scratchy, but that's forgivable when you look at the colors. They fade seamlessly from one shade to the next. I am so happy with this shawl.

The pattern is Stephen West's Boneyard Shawl (Ravelry link). It's very easy and is great if you're interested in showing off the qualities of your yarn rather than your knitting (which I generally am...). I'd definitely make it again with a different yarn. For Kauni, though, it was perfect. The shawl size is perfect, too. I've been carrying it to class, since the rooms area usually kind of cold. I've gotten a lot of comments on it.

With that finished, I decided I should probably start getting rid of all this handspun yarn I now have lying around. I started a cardigan using the pattern Presto Cardigan. I like the pattern so far. I've finished the back and am working on the right front.

I love the yarn separately, and I liked it when I laid the skeins next to each other...but I'm not sure what I think of it. It's very Christmasy. I'm using a maroon merino bought at Sheep Street, a forest green BFL from Miss Babs, and a orange/purple/green Corriedale called "Autumn Leaves" from Fantail Fibres. All were wonderful to spin (though BFL is amazing stuff...)

So I might end up frogging this; I might keep it. I'm not sure yet. I'll finish the front and see what I think. I might change up the striping for the sleeves.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Society, women, and rape

A friend linked THIS on her facebook page, and I thought it should be shared further. It is a very well-written blog post about women and the way society expects them to act, and then the way women act when they are raped. Very interesting, very informative, and very important for everyone to read.

Gardening prayers needed!

There's been a lot to pray about lately, but tonight it will be for a non-human. I planted an herb garden today! I love having green things around (the grass outside my window doesn't count). I think we all need "green" in our lives, and that it can really help make a place seem like a home. So I decided to try growing some herbs on my window ledge. I planted sweet basil, parsley, and chives. If they grow, I hope to learn to cook using them. If not...well, at least I tried.

I'll post updates on these as they grow...if they grow

Natural Dyes - Nature's Blessing Stole

For a good portion of the summer, I worked hard on a project for a friend: a stole made from wool which I cleaned, combed, and spun.

Raw rambouillet fleece. You can see just from the fleece that there were varying shades of cleanliness.

We washed the fleece in warm water with soap (3 baths), and warm water without soap (3 baths). We used Seventh Generation dish soap because it doesn't have enzymes in it, which can ruin the fleece.

After the fleece was washed, we lay it out to dry on an old screen door. It took several days to dry fully.

One of the ways I prepared the fleece was by carding it. I bought two dog combs from the pet store and use them as combs to make rollags. I've also carded wool and used a makeshift dis (basically a circle with a hole in the middle) to make long bits of top. I don't have pictures to demonstrate this.

And then I spun it into yarn! This stuff is heavenly to spin. I think it may have something to do with the fact that there are less (no!) chemicals in the yarn once I've finished it, or maybe the fact that I worked with the wool from almost the beginning. It spun so easily, no drafting necessary.

The wool was a gift from a friend, and I wanted to make something with it for her. Because she is very much a gardener and nature person, I decided that I would experiment with natural dyes while working toward the final goal of knitting a stole.

Black and white fleece spun together and then dyed twice with red onion skins. In the final stole, it looked greener than it does here.

From left: Pink: third dyebath with tickseed (little yellow flower we have in our front yard). The water boiled away partially, giving the yarn a variegated look. Orange: First dye with tickseed. I used copper pennies as mordant for this dyebath, but took them out for the pink. Yellow: Queen Anne's Lace with allum mordant.

I dyed this roving with tickseed. I believe the finished yarn is the orange in the picture above.

The finished stole! The pattern is called "woven stitch." I embroidered a cross and a flower on the two ends, and I think they turned out fairly well, despite my lack of embroidery skills. Marie loved the stole, and I loved making it!

I started the project with the hope to make something for someone who meant a lot to me...doing it in a way I thought she'd approve of. I'd never really considered using what is given to us in nature for something like this before...but now I think I will find it hard to return to using chemicals to dye with. Those dyes fade over time. Centuries of cloth from Europe show us that natural dyes stay brilliant for much longer. The extra effort is worth it in the end.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On the "Ground Zero Mosque"

You know what the saddest part is, in my opinion? It was supposed to be a community center. A place where people of the Muslim faith could reach out to the community around them, to New Yorkers of all faiths. And now, by no fault of their own, it has become a nasty debate that is ripping this country further apart. It's almost as if we don't want the bridges to be mended, as if we don't want to heal the wounds. It's hard to say, but can't we move on? Not to forget the past, but to accept it and move forward.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Days

It was raining this morning when I got up, which was a startling surprise. I didn't think it knew how to properly rain in Texas...rain for more than 10 minutes at a time, that is.

Today was my first day of classes here at Brite. I live in the seminary housing, and so it's a little bit of a walk up a hill to campus. It had finally cooled down today (Thank you, God!!!), so the walk up wasn't so bad. During orientation, I had to change clothes completely when I walked back the first day.

I had two classes today - Intro to Theology, and Intro to Ministry Studies. I've never really liked the first few days of school...they're dull and you don't learn anything. We go over the class list and how to pronounce names, then read the syllabus...sometimes line for line. Then we get an assignment for the next class and go home. My first class was like that. My second class, however, was more fun. Probably because it was 2.5 hours...which may not be so fun by the end of the semester.

Overall, things are going well here. I absolutely love being here and really enjoy being in a community of other seminary students. Even though we're all studying the same/similar things, we're a very diverse group. Just in my second class today, for first year students only, we had an age range of 22-75ish. Black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, bi, male, female...and all different denominations. I think that discussion will really benefit from this diversity. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 19, 2010



Brite Divinity School values people of all culture, nationalities, ethnicities, races, and religions, with regard to characteristics such as sex, gender, sexual identities, social class, age, and differing abilities. We are committed to promoting a diverse and just environment, in which language and practices support the achievement of inclusion. Brite seeks to remove all barriers to the maintenance and aspirations of its Mission Statement and Non-discrimination Statement.

is why I'm so glad to be here. Because they spent ten minutes this morning talking to us about the importance of inclusion, and inclusive language. Because this statement includes not only gender, age, and race, but also sex, sexual identities, and differing abilities. Because this statement, this discussion, and the fact that everyone in the room seemed okay with it, makes me feel like I can be myself here, and that is something that is very important to me.

They made certain we know it wasn't just a statement written just so that they have a statement to show people. It seemed to me, sitting in that freezing cold classroom with dozens of other incoming MDiv students, that they actually believed it. They talked to us about Brite's past history with inclusion, how in 1952, before the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Brite decided to accept African American Students. The university told them that they could accept the students, but that the students would not be allowed to eat on the university's campus. So Brite made a kitchen in one of the classrooms, so that everyone could eat together. It's here, it's part of the past, present, and future. And I am so excited for that.

Today was the first real day; the first day of orientation. I met other students today from all over. Some were like me, fresh out of undergraduate; others were much older. I met a woman who could be my grandmother, and she's just as excited as the rest of us. There was so anticipation in that classroom, so many eager souls ready to start and yet terrified at the same time. I've only been here since Saturday, and I haven't even started classes, but I think I love this place already.

Monday, August 9, 2010

More memories...

In packing up my things, I found a floppy, bright red binder with my name on the front. Over the years, I've found and lost this binder. It was given to me when I was baptized on April 16, 2000. It's astonishing to me that this was more than ten years ago, and that I was only twelve years old. I look at the picture included in the folder and barely recognize the girl with the tilted head, long blond hair, and bright green, patch-covered Girl Scout vest who is standing all the way in the back. There were ten of us in that Pastor's Class, and of the ten, only three of us continue to attend this church regularly with our families.

That day was one of the happiest in my life. I remember being dunked under, and then coming up and wanting to see the silver dove that hangs above the baptistery, but not being able to because I didn't have my glasses on. Later that day, I went to my brother's soccer game and swung on the playground, smiling from ear to ear and having no idea why.

But more than the smiles, more than anything else, I remember the words that were spoken to me that day, which are captured forever on the page thoughtfully included in my bright red binder. The reminder to read the Bible rings in my ear to this day.

I'd forgotten the last paragraph, though, and it seems, in a way, almost the perfect send-off, because the hope of my pastor is the hope that I have for myself as I go off to seminary. He wrote, those ten years ago:

"May you continue to hone your skills as a reader and as a musician, seeking always to offer the gifts of your intellect and imagination and musicianship in the service of our Lord and Savior."

And this simple hope is exactly what I want to achieve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Memorable books

Packed my books today. I'm not taking as many as I'd thought. I think my mom's constant reminder to "take as little as possible" is having some effect on my packing.

It was interesting to see which books were chosen. I didn't think about it too hard, just tossed them in the "yes" or "no" piles. A lot of the books I went through were school books...books from literature classes. I think being a writing major doubled my library! Makes me glad I had a major that required books that were worth keeping.

Most of the lit books were English literature. I've apparently gotten over being tired of Jane Austen, because her entire works went in. As did many Bronte books (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey). I didn't put in Villette, but then again I never finished it, and most of the books I chose to take were ones I finished. Or at least tried very hard to finish. Or ones that I want to read someday. Like Hard Times.

Faulkner was completely left out. Much as I love the man, I need a little more time to recover from having an entire class on him. The same thing happened with Austen...I've just had a little more time. Moby Dick is also staying here. A lot of American literature is staying, actually. I don't know what I have against it, but it just isn't my favorite. However, I am taking Crime and Punishment, because it was one of my favorites from high school, and I have delusions that I'll actually reread it and figure out which of the characters has lavender gloves (one of the quiz questions).

I also went through the drawers under my bed, and almost all of them are empty. I found all of the papers I ever wrote in college, which is a little telling about how much of a packrat I am. I'm pretty embarrassed at some of the ones I threw together at the last minute. I'd like to go back in time and kick my freshman/sophomore self and tell her to write them a week earlier!! I could have gotten straight As. But I did read over one of them (on Alice in Wonderland, a poem by Kipling, and Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market) that could have been good if I'd...oh, I don't over it before handing in? Sigh. I'm going to try to get better at this procrastination issue, but considering I'm leaving in ten days for Texas and I haven't even finished reading the required book yet...well, I might need to try a little harder.

There are a lot of memories in my books. Not just physical things in the books, like dried flowers and notes written in the margins, but memories that only reappear when I open the pages and read the words that I probably only skimmed before. Sometimes when I'm reading over a passage, I can hear the conversation that was going on around me, or I remember what music was playing when I was reading the first time. The words are like little time capsules to the past. Too bad they only connect me to my past. I suppose the author's is in there somewhere...

Someday I want to reread these books. Austen, Faulkner, Melville...okay, maybe not Melville. But I do want to reread the books I was "forced" to read. So many times, it's the second time through that the book clicks finally for me. It was like that with The Sound and the Fury. We read it as seniors in college, part of Modern Literature. It was an epic undertaking, as any reading of Faulkner is, and my copy of the book has the battle scars to prove it. Highlighting, pen and pencil marks, scribbles at the ends and beginnings of chapters. I loved it the first time through, but the second time, I understood it. And I loved it more. (The third time through I was sick of it, but probably only because I needed more break time. That's the problem with being a lit get repeat books, and sometimes even repeat discussions. I think I had three of those. The Sound and the Fury, Pride and Prejudice, and....something American by either Hemingway or Fitzgerald.)

(I feel the need to add that not all of my books fall under the category of "literature." I packed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which is perfectly fluffy fiction, as well as three of David Sedaris' books. Which probably do fall under the category of "literature," but they are hilarious and books I would read any day or night without complaint. Unlike Moby Dick. Or anything by Fitzgerald.)

Long post. Sorry about that. I always get excited when it comes to books. Can you blame me?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's the wait that kills you

I've been avoiding posting on here.

Part of it is because my next spinning/knitting/dyeing post is about a gift that hasn't yet been given. But part of it is because of the other reason why I keep this blog: the seminary part.

Summer was going by so slowly. I went to movies with my mom, ate lunch at Steak 'n Shake, knit, and read some of the Bible. May came and went...June came....passed by at a painfully slow rate. But July...things started to speed up. And then the days went crashing by, and now suddenly it's the last day of the month. Suddenly I leave for Texas in twelve days, and I don't know how to comprehend this.

I've never lived outside this state. The midwest has been my home for 22 years. I complain, but I really love the crazy winters and the humid summers. I love that this part of the country gets four seasons, even if the four seasons don't always happen in the right order. But it's not just moving from this state that scares me.

I'm starting a new part of my life. This would have happened no matter if I'd decided to go to seminary or not; I graduated, and so moving out of my parents' house is the next step.

You get the point: I'm scared. I think that somehow, something will go wrong. It's like the summer before I studied abroad in England: the mix of anticipation, fear, excitement, and the unknown created in me the disbelief that I would ever get there.

I keep telling myself, though, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. This is the direction I'm meant to go, and so things will end up alright. It will be hard, but it's be boring if it wasn't.

In the end, I really just can't wait. Twelve days. Twelve days!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thoughts on Tolstoy, the Bible

Yesterday, my mom and I watched The Last Station, which is a film about the end of Leo Tolstoy's life, and the difficulties that aroused between Sophia Tolstoy (his wife) and Vladamir Chertkov. Chertkov was a member of the group that called themselves the Tolstoyans. In the film, these people gathered around Tolstoy as if he were the new Christ speaking the word of God.

I've not read any Tolstoy, and this film is pretty much the extent of my learnings on Tolstoy. It's a fact I'm a little ashamed of, but someday I hope to read his work. In general I, love the Russian writers, and I'm sure I will love Tolstoy.

It occurred to me while we were watching the movie that I didn't particularly like the way that Chertkov idolized Tolstoy. Granted, the film did not portray him in a very good light. He was trying to make Tolstoy leave his works to the public domain, while Sophia wanted their children to receive it as an inheritance. Chertkov put Tolstoy above most everything else - he said that he was the most important man in all of the world, yet he pushed and shoved Tolstoy into doing what he wanted. At one point, a young woman had a mosquito on her cheek, and Tolstoy reached out to squish it. Chertkov told him that he should not have killed a living creature; that that wasn't the message their movement needed to send. Yet it was Tolstoy who has come up with the movement, who had written the words to spark it.

I'm not familiar with the movement itself, so I won't speak for or against it. But I do think that Chertkov was wrong to spend his whole life idolizing the work of another. He seemed a very intelligent man, and I believe he wrote some. But instead of taking his talent and working on his own things, he acted as Tolstoy's guard, sometimes even against Tolstoy himself.

As a child and a young writer, I idolized other writers, but learned to write my own things. Yes, I was inspired and continue to be inspired by these authors, but my work is my own. I believe that it stands alone. I understand that this may be different - that this is social reform rather than fiction, but I think the same thing stands.

Yet as I was thinking about it, I realized that we do this with Christ, with the Bible. Many of us dedicate our lives to the Word of God and to studying it. And I thought, this is not wrong, because Christ is the Son of God. But in the film, many of the people believed that Tolstoy was a prophet, who spoke directly from God as well. How can we tell?

I don't really have a conclusion to make, other than this: We follow people, their belies; we find their works inspirational. But no matter if it is Tolstoy, J.K. Rowling, or the Bible itself...we can't allow ourselves to become blinded and to forget that our ideas matter, too. I think that we have to be inspired by ourselves, as well. We have to remember to think for ourselves.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rainbow Stitches

For a few years now, I have been in search of the perfect rainbow yarn. Something that stripes slowly, with rows and rows of one color before you get to the next. Most of the striping yarn you find has quick stripes, little snatches of color. I'd seen people using long striped yarn on Ravelry, but either they didn't list what type of yarn it was, or I didn't know how to read their language.

Last week, my mom attended the TKGA conference (which is a little redundant as TKGA stands for "The Knitters' Guild of America). Among the hoards of yarn she brought home was a ball of something called Kauni.

Kauni is my dream yarn. I read reviews of it on Ravelry, where people said that it is very course, frustrating to knit with...but I love it. Maybe it is from spinning, but I don't mind that it is a rougher yarn. It's Shetland wool, for goodness sake! It's not going to be a yarn you want around your neck.

The day after I got it, I spent about two hours searching for a pattern on Ravelry, before finally settling on the Boneyard Shawl. I love this, because it is simple. I'm a beginning knitter, and this pattern is all knits, purls, and M1L and M1R stitches. Very easy.

And the colors! Well, you'll just have to see them for yourself:

(I have to apologize to Franklin Habit, (though I doubt he will ever read this), who taught the photographing fibers class in Columbus, OH...didn't make my lightbox yet, and so this is really bad lighting....)

It's such a happy knitting project. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Etsy Listings

My Etsy Shop has now been updated!

I meant to do this once I got settled in for the summer, but lost track of things. Currently I just have four items for sale, but hopefully soon I will list new things...such as handspun yarn! I've also had a request in the past to list my snood pattern, so if I get around to it, I may list that as well.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some Results....that aren't all yellow!

Red onion skins, dyed twice. Spun from gifted fleeces, grey and white. Result is a greenish yellow.

On the left, Queen Anne's Lace full plant with no mordant. On the right, tickseed flowers with copper pennies at the bottom of the dyebath, no pre-mordant. Tickseed flowers are small yellow flowers, so when the dyebath turned crimson I was shocked. I didn't want to waste such a pretty color on such a small amount of yarn, so I dyed roving as well.

Prepared same as tickseed yarn above, with a much more orange color. The color also seems veragated, possibly because there was barely enough water to cover the whole skein of roving. I am REALLY happy with this result. I hope that the color stays fast. It is still wet at this point, and tomorrow I am going to put it out in the sun and see how it does.

Finally, something that is not YELLOW!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dyeing Woes...


The search for green is not going well. Yellows, lots of yellows. But greens? Of course not.

I found someone on Ravelry who managed to get green from red onion skins, and thought that I'd try their method. It's simple enough - mordant the yarn using alum and cream of tarter while boiling the skins. Add the yarn to the dyebath, let it simmer for a while, and then when you take it out, it's green. But something seems to have gone wrong. Her yarn went from pink to orange to rust to green. Mine's just yellow. At least I can try it again with the same skein, if it didn't get felted while I wasn't watching.

My blueberry yarn turned out a decent shade of blue (pictures to follow), but the roving felted in the pot, and so the yarn is incredibly stiff and overspun (my fault).

Always, the problem is my lack of patience. Dyeing naturally can't be done quickly. It takes time. Unfortunately.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Cozies!

This is spectacular. I now want a smart car so that I can crochet it a cozy. I wonder how it holds up in the rain?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Learning Patience

Well, it's not bright red.

I think my problem was that I left the the yarn heated for too long. I kept the crockpot on all night with the beets, water, and yarn in it. I wonder if it would be more red if I had let it cool.

I really love dyeing with things that are in nature, rather than using chemicals and other things. For one, it's so much cheaper to use leftover fruits and vegetables, or plants from the yard, than to buy dye. These are the things that were used to dye fabric for centuries; bright, vivid colors were had from them, far before we discovered other ways to make color.

As with knitting, as with crocheting; as with carding, combing, and spinning...I find so much satisfaction in returning to crafts that have been pushed aside, forgotten as the decades and centuries have passed. I think sometimes that we have lost touch with the patience required in completing everyday tasks. Imagine, wanting a sweater. You don't jump in your car and drive to Kohls. You have to go out and get wool. Wrangle a sheep and sheer it, if you have one; then you must get the wool ready to spin. Clean it, wash it, comb or card it. And then you have to spin it. It takes about 2 pounds of yarn to knit a sweater, and it takes me about a day to spin 4 oz of yarn. Do the math. Maybe if you start the process, you'll have it done by the end of the year. Without television, internet, cars, or phones, you'd probably get done faster.

I've never had much patience, but I think each skein of yarn I spin I gain a tiny bit more. I doubt, however, I will ever have the patience of the women who sat day-to-day making clothes, preparing food, and cleaning their homes without the luxury of having Netflix instantly available on the Wii.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Experiments in Natural Dyeing

After being away from my dear spinning wheel for so long, I desperately needed a crafty day. Today was that day!

Last night, I combed and spun some of the Rambouillet that my friend Marie gave me. I have a dark fleece and a white fleece. I played with combing the two colors together, and made a stripey yarn.

No idea what the yardage is, but I'm happy with the result. I'm going to have to try it again when I'm not planning on dyeing.

My family is a part of a local CSA, which means that once a week we get a crate of fruit and veggies. It's lovely, because we get what's in season and we always have fresh produce on hand. However, sometimes, there is a downside. Like the fact that we have 2 lbs of beets, and none of us eat beets.

So what did I do? Stuck the beets in the crock pot with my wool and dyed it, of course!

I joined the Plants to Dye For group on Ravelry and read a few posts for what to do with beets. Someone had made a gorgeous red using red wine vinegar as the mordant...I only had normal vinegar, so I used that. We boiled the beets, cut them up, and put them in the crock pot with the water and vinegar.

And now we wait.

In the mean time, I decided I might as well experiment. I found these great instructions for sundyeing, and decided to give the weeds in my yard a second chance. I'm really bad at following instructions exactly, so I just plucked as many weeds as I could manage and shoved them in the mason jars with boiling water.

From left to right: Clover, gumballs (from the tree in our yard), random white flowers from a weed, dandelion roots, dandelion stems.

I imagine the clover will give a pale green/yellow color, gumballs will be brownish, the white flowers will give a pale green, dandelion roots will hopefully be pink, and the stems will probably be green. But who knows!

Updates shall follow - for the moment, I need to go put some anti-ichy stuff on the bug bites I got from picking all these weeds! The mosquitoes are fierce in our jungle of a yard!

ETA: Gathered a few flowers on a walk with my parents:

From left to right: Orange day lilies, purple petunias, and Queen Anne's lace. I had *just* poured boiling water over them when I took this picture, and was astonished at how quickly the petunia water turned blue. I hope that the yarn dyes a shade of blue...apparently blue is a difficult color to get!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've always wanted a sister. I have a brother who is two years younger than me, and we've been close for most of my life, but a brother is just not the same as a sister. With a sister, you can lay in your bed and talk til the sun comes up and share secrets you'd never tell anyone else.

This week, I discovered that I have more than 1,800 sisters.

It was a little strange at first to hear the women on stage call out to "sisters," but now hearing it makes me feel connected with these other women. At lunch today, three of us from my church sat at a table with women from other churches. Dessert was carrot cake, which I don't really like. I nibbled a little on it but didn't want to finish. A woman across the table, an older woman with a wonderful smile, called over to me and asked if I was going to finish my cake. I told her no, and she said she wanted it. She didn't care that I'd eaten it, because I was her sister. She's probably the same age as my grandmother, but in God's eyes, we are sisters. Small moments like that have made me smile.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Reading Update: Genesis

Finished reading Genesis today.

When I look at the book itself, it's an accomplishment. It's 50 chapters, 51 2-column pages (in my version), and not written in a way that's easy to follow. The people repeat their stories two and three times, and tales are followed by genealogies. The stories are ones I've heard countless times in Sunday School and in church services. Everyone knows about Adam and Eve, Noah and his Arc, Jacob and Rachel and Leah. I went 15-20 chapters without finding a story I didn't recognize.

But there are stories in Genesis that aren't told in church. Lot's daughters get their father drunk so that they can have children by him. Joseph, while he overcomes his brothers selling him into slavery, is kind of a jerk when he sees them again. In church we are taught to forgive one another, rather than seeking revenge, but Joseph seems to have never learned that lesson. Is he special because he is favored by God? But just because someone today is a pastor or a bishop or a priest doesn't mean that he or she has the ability to not treat others kindly. Some of these things just do not make sense to me.

It's interesting that we look to Joseph as a person who overcomes what his brothers did to him, and, later on, treats them with kindness and forgiveness. We remember his "technicolor dreamcoat," and that he was different from his brothers, special and "chosen." But that is not the story told in Genesis. Before embracing his brothers, Joseph puts them through hardships and even plants a cup in his brother Benjamin's pack so that he can detain him. Why is this okay? Why is he allowed to do this? And why have we forgotten this part of the story?

Genesis was an interesting adventure, and I'm sure Exodus will be as well. I can't wait to see what the Bible has in store for me next!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sock Love!

A friend of mine posted these to my Facebook page:

Considering my ADORATION for socks of all kinds, particularly kneesocks (seriously, I think I've crossed over to addiction), I really don't see how I can NOT buy these. They're purple and blue (two favorite colors) and covered in yarn. How could you go wrong? They're also $7. Which to me seems a reasonable price.

Alas. I am poor and spent way too much money on roving at Knitters Connection. I also need to eat come August. And peanut butter is more important than kneesocks.

Maybe they'll still be around when I get a real job...

End: Knitters Connection; Begin: Quadrennial

When you're used to doing something alone, and suddenly discover a group of others who also share the same love as you...wait, that sounds wrong.

I've been back from Knitters Connection for a few days now, but my favorite part of the experience is still the all-day class I took from Amy Tyler, Beginning Spinning on the Wheel. The only other spinners I've spun with were drop spindlers, and so suddenly walking into a room full of people with their own spinning wheels, who understand the love and obsession I have for the art of making yarn, is incredible.

Our class was a beginning class, but I taught myself how to spin, and so it worked well as a way to fill in the gaps of what I didn't teach myself. Such as, when you begin spinning a yarn, you should twist some of the singles back on themselves and make a sample to lay on your leg and match your singles and plied yarn to as you spin the whole bobbin.

All in all, Knitters Connection was thrilling. I took a photography class with Franklin Habit, and was thrilled with the pictures I managed to take by the end. This was taken in a light box with the museum setting, macro, on my camera. I didn't realize that the museum setting would be so useful for taking pictures of yarn. It doesn't flash, and apparently all the settings are just about right. This is handspun yarn purchased as roving at the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival.

We went home for a few days, and today we were back on the road, this time with the women from my church. We headed through Kentucky to beautiful West Virginia and Virginia through the Appalachians to North Carolina, where we have settled into our hotel for the Disciples Women's Quadrennial. Events don't start til tomorrow evening, so for now we are relaxing after the day-long drive.

I'll post as the week goes along - I'm very excited to be here with other women and cannot wait to feel the spirit move amongst us as we worship tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So I tried not to geek out over the Victorian Patterns...and failed.

Yesterday there was driving. Driving and driving for three hours from one Columbus to another. We arrived in Columbus, OH after three hours of sitting and knitting while reading Genesis. I found out that it is possible to knit and read the Bible at the same time, though it doesn't go very quickly. Also, someone's son was named Nimrod. Great name.

Returning to the subject at hand!

Today was the first day of Knitters Connection. I've been once before, two years ago, with my mom. This year we dragged Hannah along (and when I say dragged, I mean that she dragged us). Knitters from all over gather at the Columbus convention center to sit, knit, talk, and generally have way too much fun. I didn't have any classes today, and Hannah didn't have any this morning, so we sat outside the classrooms with a bunch of other non-class-taking-people and generally had a good time.

We met Erin, who is a fellow spinner and is lusting after a Kromski wheel:

Erin spins lovely yarn on her drop spindle, much more even than I was able to achieve. Also, hers is a lot thicker. She's planning on keeping it as a one-ply, and I can't wait to see what she knits with it!

The evening was when the real fun happened. Hannah and Mom got out of their Traditions class and we ran back to the hotel (just across the street!) to drop our things off, then we ran back to wait with the other knitters.

Waiting and waiting...

Hannah and Mom are excited...but for what?


Okay, forgive me: I was so excited at all the yummy fiber goodness that I forgot to take my camera out to get a picture of it. Booths full of wonderfully colorful yarn, stacks of books, racks of hooks, stitchmarkers, needles, and other useful tools. People, people, everywhere!

The first year I went, it was a lot larger, but quantity does not necessarily mean quality. This year nearly every booth has impressive quality. I don't know if I saw any acrylic. And the most exciting thing - there was roving! Lots of it, too. I was very excited to find bison and silk, which I will be purchasing at some point. There was quite a lot of Blue-Faced Leicester, which I like, but a disappointing amount of superwash. I know I've only spun one skein of superwash, but I just wasn't happy with it. Too processed.

We decided that, though market was fun, dinner was a little necessary. Also, it gave us the chance to show off our purchases...

The Opal is Mom's. She's a little obsessed. First day, and she already bought five balls. Silly Mom. What are you going to do with all of it? It's not like you knit socks or anything.

(This is a joke. My mother owns almost solely handknit socks. They like to take over the laundry room. It's a little frightening.)

Mom also got the beautiful maroon yarn, which is Araucania Nature's Wool, $6/skein. She's making a sweater, which will of course be beautiful. Hannah got a small amount today, but I'm sure she'll be buying more later. The grey and brown Noro is for her roommate. She claims no love for it.

After looking over all of the booths offering roving, I finally decided that my first roving purchase of Knitters Connection 2010 would be Wensleydale. I've never spun Wensleydale before, but who wouldn't want to spin yarn from a sheep with a name like that? Say it with me. Wiiin-sleee-daaaale. Wensleydale! Fun. I also purchased Silk Noils to play with while carding, and a bag of buttons. I joined two other ladies around a tub of buttons to pick out a small bag of buttons for $1. May possibly return tomorrow.

You would think that after all this excitement, there could not possibly be any more. But no. It continues. Franklin Habit, a fabulous knitting guy who writes a column for and writes a blog called The Panopticon, gave a talk on the history of knitting and turning the Victorian patterns into normal people patterns. He is also wonderfully gay and has made stocking caps for himself and his partner to wear in their Chicago apartment, which is just glorious.

Cue major geekout for me. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I adore the Victorians. Give me a TARDIS and I will go straight there in my jacket and hoop skirt. I'll even wear their corsets and risk many health problems just to sit in the 1880s for a day. Love love love.

And when you combine FIBER ARTS and the Victorians? I nearly squeed. Actually, I think I may have several times. The talk focused on the transformation of knitting from knitting-for-survival to knitting-for-pleasure. Franklin's theory was that this transformation happened as a counter-reaction to the modernization that was occurring, which fits in with what was happening with the literature and art of the time (hello, pre-Raphaelites!). He brought up the Gothic novel and Gothic architecture...and Northanger Abbey. Which is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels (it and Sense and Sensibility are constantly struggling for first). Apparently when he said "Jane Austen" and "Northanger Abbey" I sat up and looked excited. Apparently he noticed. Apparently so did the entire audience.

Needless to say, I think he'll remember me when I take his photographing fiber class on Friday. It probably won't be helped by the fact that, following the talk, I went up to him and said "HI IlovetheVictoriansandfiber. YouareawesomebecauseyoutalkedaboutJaneAustenandNorthangerAbbey. OMGLOVEYOUKTNXBAI."

Or something like that.

One useful thing he did talk about was various patterns he has painstakingly attempted to translate into modern knitting pattern language. In the 19th century, there was literally no consistency between patterns, needles, gauge...anything. Many of the patterns he showed us were along the lines of "Put 25 stitches on the needle. Make common stitch for 5 inches." And on and on except much worse. So he translated a few of these patterns and put them on Knitty. One of which is a lace sampler that looks pretty much like a scarf. I've been wanting to attempt lace, and knitting AUTHENTIC VICTORIAN LACE would just be so much better. And so this is what I will be doing tomorrow.

Because really. Who would not want to knit that beautiful "scarf."

Phew! Sorry for such a long post! I just sort of love the Victorians just a little. I'll try to keep the geek-outs to a minimum.

Tomorrow: Why it is funny to watch Hannah and my mom when Cookie A walks into by. Or is standing in the hallway outside our room.

Also: Spinning Class! In which we see just how terrible I actually am at spinning.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Required Reading

Sometime in the month after I was accepted to seminary, I got a lovely list of books I needed to read before arriving. This list came in November or so, before I even got my book list for the spring semester of my senior year of college. Included in this list is:

How to Think Theologically by Howard Stone and James Duke.
Essays from The New Interpreter's Study Bible, including "as much of the Biblical text as possible."
Essays from Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament.
Church History: An Essential Guide by Justo González.
Essays from The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology.

I haven't started any of these books yet. Actually, I've misplaced all of them except the Bible. They definitely arrived here when I moved home, because I remember putting them somewhere special. I just don't remember where.

I told my pastor today that I needed to read the Bible this summer, but obviously there wasn't time. Did he have suggestions for what to read? Of course. The Pentateuch and the New Testament. That's 483 pages out of my NRSV bible. Not the study Bible, just my normal Bible.

It's not that I'm not interested in reading it. I'm excited to read about the Israelites and all of those stories I learned in Sunday School when I was little. I just really didn't realize that I should have started this way back in November when I thought I had all the time in the world to acquire and read these.

I am not complaining, I swear. Maybe I'll make Sims out of the genealogy section of the Old Testament. That could be pretty interesting...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Roving --> Yarn --> Project!

I've been spinning a lot of thin yarn lately (I blame Hannah), and I really love the result I've been getting. However, when I try to go back to worsted or bulky, my fingers get really confused.

I traded some old yarn for new roving with someone on Ravelry and got this lovely grey Icelandic wool. I got two bags of it (8 oz total, I believe), and last night I spun one bag, which was all that would fit on my bobbin.

The second picture is more representative of the color.

I'm really happy with the result! 4 oz gave me a little over 100 yards. It is fairly even from what I can tell, and should knit up nicely. The Icelandic (which I've never spun before) apparently has a long fiber, and so there are bits of little white hairs sticking out here and there, which give the yarn an interesting look.

Now that I'm knitting, I can actually make something with this yarn! After searching Ravelry, I think I've settled on this hat.

Whenever I knit/crochet something from yarn I've spun, I try to pick something without a lot of pattern in it, so that the finished project shows off the yarn instead of a pattern. Does that make sense? It could just be an excuse to not make complicated patterns... :P

Next time...spinning angora rabbit fur!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meet Charlotte

(Charlotte is the spinning wheel. I'm the one spinning.)

Charlotte is my baby. She is a Schacht Ladybug, a birthday/graduation/in-debt-to-my-mother-forever present. I came home for spring break in March and a few days after my birthday my parents took me to Sheep Street, a wonderful yarn and fiber shop near Morgantown, IN. I was told that when you pick out your wheel, you should go somewhere you can actually try them out, and I had a blast going from wheel to wheel. The shop carries Schacht, Ashford, and Louet wheels. I fell in love with the Ladybug. It's a great wheel for someone just starting out, with the ability to upgrade as you go. The parts for the Ladybug are pretty much interchangeable withe parts for their Matchless wheel, a higher-end wheel made of nicer wood. But the red wheel of the Ladybug caught my eye. Plus, that was the only wheel they carried in stock. The Schacht Spinners group on Ravelry also answered any and all questions I had...they're a great group of spinners!

I bought 4 oz of Shetland wool at the shop as well, and finished spinning it that night...

As well as everything else I had in the house for spinning my drop spindle...

I think I was hooked from the start.

Beginnings Ramblings

It seems like everyone has a blog these days to talk about themselves and their daily doings. Since I'm starting a new part of my life, I felt that this warranted a new blog!

I chose the name "Spiminarian" because I'm a spinner...and also a seminarian. Well, I will be in August. I don't claim to know anything special about faith or spinning, so this will be a place to share my struggles as I try out new fibers (bamboo is hard to spin!), read new theological books (there's a stack waiting on my desk), and try to figure out what I am really going to do with my life. Hopefully my struggles will be interesting, or at least amusing, to others!

What do spinning and faith have to do with each other? Well, my lovely subheading says that I'm "spinning my own threads of faith," which is a nice little metaphor. However, since getting my spinning wheel (a Schacht Ladybug named Charlotte) in March, I've found that the act of spinning is incredibly soothing and meditative. I've tried meditating before, but I'm not very good at sitting still. When I'm spinning, my feet are moving and my hands are helping the fibers to twist. The act itself is repetitive, so my mind is able to relax.

I won't lie though; most of the time I just spin and watch TV.

So to end the ramblings, I'll post a picture of something I recently spun for my friend, Hannah, who is an awesome knitter. Hannah loves thin, thin yarn, and so I tried my hand at laceweight yarn. She bought 8 oz of Louet Blue-Faced Leicester, undyed. Here was the result: