Spinning, Out of Control

One drawback of having written two books in one year is that I put myself on a Spinning Diet.

Spinning, for me, is the place where no rules apply.  It's the opposite of knitting:  There are no deadlines, EVER, no writing down or trying to reproduce anything, no undoing of mistakes is allowed, and no time limits are imposed.  I embrace my mediocrity and "long-term beginner" status completely.  The yarn the wheel (or spindle) gives me is the yarn I love, and that's all there is to it.  I'm the Unintentional Spinner.  So I decided that as long as I was on a knitting deadline, there was not going to be any time for spinning in the way I like to do it:  Down the rabbit hole for hours and days; spin, ply, skein, wash, dry, pet, pet, pet.  Takes a lot of time.  And before I knew it, more than a year went by without my touching the wheel.

Which simply will not do.  What a colossal wrong to have done myself! Spinning Diet, indeed.  Spinning feeds knitting, which everybody knows.  Communing with fleece as it becomes yarn is spiritual knitting nourishment at its finest.  I have starved my inner spinner nearly to death with some ill-conceived notion of time management.

This weekend, I binged.  I made 643 yards if 3-ply Cormo yarn.  And by "weekend" I mean a good part of Saturday, lots of Sunday, most of Monday and all of Tuesday.  Spinning Out of Control.  I have no memory of eating or sleeping or cooking or doing laundry for four days.  I can tell those things have been happening, because nobody else around here has noticed a failure to function in me.  But 643 yards of 3-ply Cormo do not result from some passing whim to spin for a bit.  They come from hardcore obsessive megafocus on spinning.

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I don't know whether to be proud of myself for making so much dreamy string, or ashamed for being so self-indulgent.

Either way, it's time to get back on track, because I have to start a new book.

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And the 3 of these bags of beautiful gorgeous pin-drafted fiber that I still have to spin are pretty much torturing me.  They call to me from the corner by the wheel with the voices of Sirens.  No matter where I go in the house, I can hear the song: 

"Spin more, spin more spin more, it is not day! 
It is the Nightingale and not the Lark;
Whose song beguiles you Leave the Wheel and work.
The laundry and the dishes don't love you;
As we do, who are made of fluffy wool!"

Every binge must reach its inevitable end.  The only question is what sort of end will it be?  A purposeful, self-controlled roll to a stop, or a squealing, twisted collision with reality?  If I don't stop spinning today, I could find myself in an intervention!  My family could tell me all the ways my compulsion to make string has injured them.  They might say they love me and that's why I have to go to a Special Place of Healing.

Or else they will continue not to notice I'm wearing the same clothes from days ago, and there is fiber sticking out of my hair.  As long as they get picked up from practice and the groceries keep hitting their plates, at least. 

As ever, it's gonna be up to me to decide to control myself.  Or not.

Sometimes the Toast Lands Butter-Side-Up

Stockinetta and Garterina, twin goddesses of knitting mischief and mayhem , are officially on Summer Vacay.  Here's how I know:  I went to my LYS on Mission: Implausible.  The nice Lady there sensed a disturbance in the Force:  "You look like you know exactly what you're after; just let me know if I can help at all...".  I held up the shawl.  "I'm five rows from the end, and I'm out of handspun.  I know that at this point there are only degrees of failure."  The color actually drained from her face.  "Don't cry for me,"  I said.  "I knew this was a one-way trip, but I just had to try." 

And that's when I spied it:  THE EXACT perfect color.  I zeroed in for the kill.  Brand:  Fibre Company.  Color : Rose Hip.  Fiber Blend:  50% Baby Alpaca and 30% Merino, 20% Bamboo  Not too weird (Bamboo notwithstanding), and with a  halo reminiscent of the one on my handspun.  Sure, the piles were 3, rather than 2, but beggars, at this point, dare not be choosers.  What really matters is the COLOR.  No mere Mortal deserves a match this precise.  I may have done a dance of triumph.  The LYS lady, already unnerved by my dramatic and downtrodden entrance, was stunned out of her ability to make words.  "I know," I said.  "This does not happen under ANY predictable circumstances."  Clearly the Knitting God(esse)s were not paying attention.  Or else, they were in the Caymans.  LYS lady rung me up with a solemnity usually reserved for religious services.

I went tearing home, determined to complete all the other jobs on the day's list:  Write sizing for new patterns; CHECK.  Drop off samples at Post Office; CHECK.   Give haircuts to overheating (and somewhat smelly) Scottie Dogs; CHECK.  Some of their dust ruffles might be a little crooked, but I was on a mission.  I was a To-Do List Machine, maniacally plowing ahead until I could finally work those last STINKING five rows and the bind off (yes, picots; I hear you and obey). 

And MAN is a picot bindoff at the end of a top-down shawl tedious.  Yeah, I said it.  I love picots more than any human should, and if I'M bored with them, there is something wrong with the universe.  I bound off, eventually, but I was totally in a fugue state by the end of it.

And by the way, How (brace for tirade) can any knitting patten in its right mind actually direct us to add a bead to the first picot of the bindoff, the last picot of the bindoff, and NONE Of the other 172 picots in between?  That way lay insanity, my friends.  That's like saying to a ravenous hyena, "Here's the keys to the Butcher Shop.  Just stop whenever you think you're finished".  Puh-Leeeze. 

Of course, when it was time to block, I naturally had to pin out each and every single one of those 174 beaded picot edges.  OCD much?  I know.  Totally Worth It:

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Can you spot where the yarn changes?  Neither can I, and I know.  Butter Side Up.

So what have we learned, Dorothy? 
1.    It's okay to look to the stars for a solution once you have arsed up.  Only a complete embrace of defeat can properly clear your head though, leaving you open to a solution. 
2.    I still am not a grownup, with regard to pacing myself through a project.  If the thing I'm knitting doesn't get faster as I go (you know, the OPPOSITE of like, every shawl in the world), I'm likely to loose patience/interest.  If I hadn't been desperate to see what would happen to the edge of the shawl after finding the perfect replacement yarn, I might have let the thing lie around for another two years and twenty minutes.
3.    Crescent-shaped shawls are our friends, but they need bendy blocking wires, so if all you have are straight ones, better be ready to pin. A Lot.

I still don't understand shawls.  Or lace.  And certainly not beads.  But I think this experience has delivered me one step closer to those who do.

Math is Hard. Let's Go Shopping.

What you see here is two years and twenty minutes worth of handspun 2-ply laceweight, knitted into a shawl which is 5 rows short of finished.

Coincidentally, it's also 5 rows short of yarn.  That's right.  I managed to run out of yarn, in spite of having carefully calculated that I would come out with many yards to spare.

Yardage Fail.

I swear they will inscribe on my headstone "Never Once Calculated Yardage Accurately".  I measured 860 yards of laceweight.  The pattern calls for 760 yards.  Either the pattern is a liar, or I am.  Given my record, I'm pretty sure my pants are on fire.

So what to do, Gentle Readers? 

1.    I considered trying to frog the first part of the shawl, which is crescent-shaped stockinette, to retrieve enough to finish the last five rows.  But I lack sufficient courage to try.  The yarn is a mohair & silk blend, whose frogging potential is not attractive.  I think it would be only a little harder than winding a perfect center-pull ball from an SOS pad. 

2.    I thought about frogging back a couple of rows from the lower edge, and just binding off where I am.  But that seems SO anticlimactic: the lace pattern has all its really sexy action in the last few rows and the picot bindoff.  And you KNOW what a sucker I am for a picot bindoff.

3.    I could try spinning more yarn.  To that end, I looked up the suppliers of the original roving.  Not only do they no longer offer that fiber blend, they don't make that color in anything, AND they aren't even in business together anymore.  That's right:  I took apart two separate websites at a molecular shopping level, with no joy found.

4.    I could add another yarn.  Much as it pains me to say it, I'm going to have to go to my LYS with my unfinished project, and throw myself on their tender mercies.  They are good people, who I know will do their best to help.  But it's embarrassing:  "Oooh, look at the big fancy-pants designer who knows so much!  Can't even finish her shawl!"  Not that I think they would actually taunt me, but my inner critic is having a field day.  When simple arithmatic is your Kryptonite, it's easy to get defensive. 

On the other hand, there is precious little that some time in the yarn store won't fix, including a bad attitude.  Wish me luck finding the right yarn.  Repeat after me: "Be the Laceweight...Be the Laceweight...Be the Laceweight...".