No, thank you.

A couple of tech bros have decided, with no knitting experience or knowledge and a quick trip to Michaels, that they would like to take over the knitting world and revolutionize it for all us grandmas who don’t know the locator in our url.

No, thank you.

And that’s the polite answer.

There are thousands of small knitting businesses who know their craft. Who make tools for the craft and its relations (spinning, crocheting, dyeing, weaving, etc.). This “grandma hobby” has been going on for centuries and all that knowledge is already around and available.

But instead of lifting up existing businesses, these misogynistic, condescending, and based on their comments about using Chinese models in tutorials, racist men have decided that with zero knowledge, they are going to create tools that knitters need. Then they are going to make them cheap in China and sell them to knitters using knitting dot com.

Knitting has been a hot bed of issues in the past decade, from addressing the rapid rise of white men in a mostly female dominated hobby (reverse glass ceiling effect) and the rising voices of Black knitters all the way to Ravelry’s lack of accessibility to people with visual disturbances from their website and their banning of pro-Trump propaganda.

Patty J. Lyons has had a friendly war with Seth Meyers.

Clara Parkes has educated us on centuries of wool.

Jen Hewitt discusses racism and the connections that make us with her designs and new book.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee is about the echelon of knitting stardom.

And then there are the hundreds of small dyers, podcasters, and other tool makers who work hard on the tools we want, the swag we can’t live without (hello GG!)

Why spend $20

I could have bought an Ashford Traditional Bobbin for $20 ($15 plus $5 shipping), but instead I spent a week hunting down wood, finally finding some at Art from Scrap. Then I spent two afternoons lathing, one failed attempt, and one that worked. Then I spent a few days finding the center tube (it was with the rest of my spinning supplies, duh). Then I finally put it together and realized the tension was too high. So it sat. Then it sat on the back porch with the round file for a week.

And then I spent an hour sanding the groove.

And changed the brake band.

And JUST LIKE THAT! I have an Ashford Traditional Bobbin I made myself.

(Oh, don’t forget the failed attempts at 3D printing ends, which ended in new filament and my husband taking apart the printer)

Clean it up

We made soap this weekend. And for starters, I will say that it is a very satisfying bit of chemistry. For all the slog, you get to the end and think, “Damn, that’s cool.”

That said, there are some non-negotiables:

  • dedicated soap equipment
  • personal protective equipment (PPE, sadly, we all know this acronym now)
  • outdoor space
  • if possible, help
  • adequate time
  • no canine or child help

If my kids weren’t self sufficient, if I didn’t have outdoor space, and possibly if I didn’t have my husband to double check everything with, I’m not sure I’d do this. Lye is seriously caustic and scares the crap out of me. Plus, I don’t want to leave the lye alone while it’s cooling. I’d be terrified of a kid or wildlife or domesticated life getting in to it. And it takes a LONG time to cool.

Every time we do it, I swear we won’t be doing it again. But we have lye left. And if we don’t need it to clear a drain, we might do it again. Maybe. Sitting outside by myself in gloves and a mask while waiting for dangerous liquids to cool gives you time to reflect. But worrying that a tiny particle of lye escaped and is now waiting to burn you may not be worth the worry of a satisfying chemistry experiment. For future reference, we used 7 teaspoons of rosemary essential oil and two of lemongrass.

Also, it’s still 2 months before I can use the soap. And I do enjoy knitting a feltable wool sack around soap.

But damn, I look cool.

Sock rambles

I follow a few video podcasters who are adorable and so delicate about not wearing their socks before they show them on the podcast.
Gurl. Wear your socks! I like a good FO, but I ALSO want to see what that sock looks like after you’ve washed, after you’ve walked through mud, how it held up when the dog grabbed it!

I pulled this sock on the morning I went on a little hike with a friend. And I lost my balance and full on dunked both feet up to my calves in the creek (yay, water! SoCal doesn’t usually have that much).

Stupid hike for my stupid mental health

I did that on the way OUT! Luckily it was a 45 minute hike. Took a photo of my socks when I got home, they were wet but otherwise not uncomfortable. Except that I looked down and saw toes! And that socks really isn’t old enough for me to have worn a hole through it. Closer inspection revealed a dropped stitch.

I have the power!

I’m not particularly delicate (creeks included) with my socks. These go through the wash. I did learn that the regular detergent isn’t great, so I’ll stick to wool wash, right now I have Soak. But I’m still pretty happy wearing my hand knit socks almost exclusively.

A little tension

My beautiful new Ashford Traditional, which I think is a 1965 model, was disassembled, cleaned, CLRed, and put back together.

And as you can see from the dowel sticking out of it, the brake band tension knob was missing. My husband did a fine 2-minute fix with the dowel, It worked. But. Not real pretty.

But a little time with my lathe, some staining, and we have a better fix. I think it’s eucalyptus, and it didn’t take the stain terribly smoothly. So I may do another one in the future.

What do you think of the shape? The drive band knob is round. The Ashford replacement brake band knob is a rounded taper. I went with a shape I liked for this one, but there is some dissent among the ranks about it.

Well, I never

I thought I’d never want to spin yarn. But then I bought an EEW Nano 1.0.

And then we built a slightly heavier duty e-spinner at home.

Yesterday, on St. Distaff’s Day (according to my favorite Hobby Historian, Jillian Eve), I bought a 1965 Ashford Traditional spinning wheel.

Even better, it’s also a hobby for my husband, who was desperately in need of something to focus on. In addition to needing to replace the leather bit that connects to the treadle, it could use a good wood conditioning, maybe some wd40, and, of course, I need to read up on using it.

Advent Swap

A million thanks to Colorado Knits for putting together the mini skein advent swap. I’m enjoying it so much. I finally caved and decided to go for the Habitation Throw (ravelry link) from Helen Stewart. It helps that the Big is always hogging the double granny blanket, the dogs get a blanket, and then the Little and I are left sharing the smallest blanket. So another is sorely needed.

Lovely little mini skeins.

Cool Architecture

We went on an Artist Studio Open House tour last weekend through the SB Mesa Artists. Our first stop was this amazing house with a bas relief above the door. As much as I appreciated the artists, I totally just wanted to tour the house.

To my surprise, Zillow has a pretty good description! From the website:

Featuring an unusual flat, one-half acre parcel, this magical property is a true Mesa Treasure. Carl Oscar Borg, a landscape painter of some renown, designed this home circa 1916. Modeled after the Zuni buildings of the American Southwest where Borg spent a significant time painting, its style has been described additionally as Victorian and Mission Revival. With a life-style of travel and adventure financed by his Patroness, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Borg was able to complete the home in 1918.  It has been lovingly maintained and significantly improved by the present artist-in-residence since she purchased it in the mid-1970’s.The artist studio, with 14 foot ceiling and a wall of windows, is a highlight of the home, and is sited perfectly to enjoy northwestern light. A wood-burning fireplace, supplemented by a newer high-efficiency heating system, warm the 14 x 20 room.Wood floors and paneling provide a rich, creative environment.

I’m pretty sure the artist-in-residence is Poppy Jewett. She has a really fun, appealing, pop art style.

Pugs in Ponchos

We’ve got our family’s first broken limb! And in an amazing coincidence, a hand-me-down poncho that the Little Little loves.

The hand-me-down peach poncho.

She also wears a zany shoulder shrug.

I hate those colors.

So I knew I needed to make her one.

Weird shape.

Unfortunately, the pattern I picked had too big a neckline And it was square, so it’s super weird on. The colorss are what they are, scraps. I thought that teal would be enough for the whole poncho! I added the light blue to make it extra long. Oops. 😬

So that’s a couple strikes & I’m hating crafting. I’m supposed to be knitting a colorwork mitt, not crocheting ponchos for a broken arm.

But I finally hit on the right poncho, and fuzzy pom poms really added pizzaz. Even the Big Little likes it, and she doesn’t get cold. The bummer being, now she wants one!

This one is acrylic Impeccable yarns from Michaels. And the pattern, Ravelry link warning:

I got the poms on Amazon, they are a fun free style shape rather than perfectly round.