Nobody Panic.

I don’t want to alarm anyone, please…continue sitting quietly at your computer. Panicking now is not going to help anyone. It is not going to be easier if we all lose our heads. I’ve been strategically ignoring it myself. You know when something is sneaking up on you, and you try not to think about it because whether you think about it or not, there’s nothing you can do about it so you might as well not think about it and try to be happy until it happens anyway?
This is like that. This is a harrowing time, and only the wily are going to get out of it unscathed. If I let my fear show, I’m going down for sure. I need my wits about me, my inventiveness unleashed and my good humour fortified. I’m just going to stay calm, make extra coffee and plan to make the most of my morning…for tomorrow…tomorrow…everything changes. Tomorrow, I will be tested.
Today, my friends and comrades, is the last day of school.
Let’s speak no more of this, but hold me and all the other mothers you know in your hearts tomorrow, and wish them patience. Especially wish strength for mothers like me, who work from home and are going to have annoying, demanding, whiney people who want more from you than you can give in their offices for the next few months….just like all you people who have to drive to work.
Tuesdays are for spinning, and day one of the Great Gargantuan Gansey Gambol (hereafter referred to as “G4”) began with…well, a realization that even though I am acutely aware that this is a very big project, I had no idea that it was going to be this big. So far, I’ve washed some fleece, (2 hours, because lock washing is stupid slow…anybody got a better way that preserves lock structure and doesn’t involve a crockpot? Or…anybody got a crockpot?) but not enough fleece that I’ve made a dent in the rubbermaid container the fleece is in. (It’s bottomless. I take fleece out…nothing changes. It’s some sort of perpetual bin of fleece). I dragged the fleece out to the backyard to dry, then brought my carding stuff out.
I had to sit with my laptop and work in the backyard because the fleece stealing grey squirrel is back. I was hoping that maybe he was dead. (Before you get all harsh on me, I’m not wishing the squirrel ill. I’m just saying that if he were very, very old, and had lived a happy, happy squirrel life of bird chasing and fleece stealing and had passed away…you know, out of old age, that I would be ok with that.) I sat in the back defending the fleece from said vicious squirrel, who has redoubled his efforts. I really think that the fact that he and the fleece are almost the same colour is driving him out of his mind. I maintain that he believes that he is not “stealing” the fleece, but “rescuing” a family member.
I carded (1 hour, defending fleece 2 hours ), and used all that I carded spinning. This raises a point, I think I need a friend with a drum carder, or I need to work with the children on their carding skills. Yeah man, maybe that’s what we do with the summer vacation, Mommies little sweat shop. (Hey Girls… who wants some M&Ms?)
I also spun a quick sample and navajo plied it, so that I could see what I thought.
What I thought was that I could spin a little thicker, or accept in my heart that I will be knitting this sweater until long after Joe is dead. The sample is fingering weight. There’s just no way I can do that, that’s beyond love. This sample figures out to about 8 stitches to the inch, so a gansey for Joe would come in with me casting at least 400 stitches around, not allowing for whatever pattern I settle on. That’s … well, let’s just say that I think I’d be a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa by the time I finished it. I need thicker yarn or a smaller husband. I’m going to aim for a DK weight. (spinning the sample, setting the twist and washing it, measuring the WPI, as well as contemplating the possibilities that this yarn offers: 1 hour)
From the sample I also decided that it’s definitely going to be a 3 ply. I desperately wanted a two ply, since it’s easier to make, but there’s no point in doing this unless I’m going to do it right, and a three ply shows up patterned stitches better. Somewhere, everyone from my spinning class just fell of their chairs. Yes, I know I’ve said in the past that I’d rather quietly lick my kitchen floor clean than make 3 ply. I know. I’m trying to demonstrate some freakin’ personal growth here.
Finally, I spun. (2 hours)
This is almost one bobbin full, I’ll spin three of these before I begin to ply. I have absolutely no idea how much this is, or how much I will need. (Might want to start figuring that out eh? Information gleaned from this site suggests that I am far from done. I am not actually going to write the number here, since demoralizing myself this early in the process helps no one.
Number of hours spent making G4: 8
Off I go. I’m going to go to the bathroom by myself and finish a whole cup of coffee without having to re-warm it, and I might even haul off and have an uninterrupted phone conversation. After all, there’s 75 days until the first day of School.

28 thoughts on “Nobody Panic.

  1. My heart is with you. My son has been out of school for a week and a half now (can I come to YOUR school district?). We are working on a project about dragracing together this summer. Building a small race track and doing LOTS of research. I NEED my spinning.
    That fleece and spinning looks glorious. As far as three ply goes, there are several good things about it. First, plying three singles together in NON-navajo ply form can does wonders for evening out your yarn. Second, with a wool like corrie, the skeins will feel glorious — springy, round, and luscious to touch. Beyond two-ply. Third, it SOUNDS as if it will take forever, but I found it was actually fun and did not take that long. And that the skeins were very large and satisfying. Holding the three singles in tension can be a trifle tricky, but there are strategies that make it easier. Glad to share when you get to that point.

  2. Stephanie, Please forgive my forwardness — how do you find time to have another job besides knitting and all things related?
    Good luck with the summer kiddies!

  3. Hail Caesar… we who are about to die, salute you!
    (that somehow felt appropriate. I always hear a distant echo of Taps on the last day of school)
    As for the squirrel. Maybe it’s hormonal? Maybe it’s trying to abduct what it’s sure is the love of its small life? Why don’t you let it have just one teeny fleece rat? C’mon! Don’t stand in the way of true love!

  4. Stephanie – I feel your pain. I have one word for you – day camp (OK, so it’s two).
    Now I want YOUR sympathy – your VK blue tank is my olive tank. Yes, I had checked the errata, but now that I am at the armhole-scye of both the front and back, it still looks REALLY narrow. I’m making the medium size, and although my rack is nowhere near as er… attractive as yours, I’m wondering if I should have made the large. The yarn is the FdC Elena specified, in the gauge specified, and I did make it one cable longer (so as to counteract the ‘shrinkage’ once it gets on the body). I’m thinking I may work another back in the large to compare. If I feel more comfortable with the fit, I will re-work the front.
    Although this is a quick/pleasant knit, losing all that time bites.

  5. I knew watching you do the gansey would be a joy and wonder for all of us… I still think it’s magic, turning fleece into yarn. I’m already looking forward to next Tuesday!
    My sympathies on the end of school, though. Good luck!

  6. Um Miss Stephanie. Have you thought about contacting your teacher and having a wee bit of chat with her on your ideas for this project?
    My guess? Invest 10 or 15 minutes and save another 8 hours. Perhaps your teacher has worked with Corriedale before and even knit up some handspun gansey items in her time? Who knows but it might be worth the call.
    And yes prayers, candles and even saintly floor washing rituals are being directed your way for tomorrow.

  7. Yes, my kids are at their last day as well. However, I felt compelled to sit through all the assemblies this morning – and will go back for the concert this afternoon. (We call it CHOMP – and its a very special percusion band – they use garbage cans.) So, my last ‘free’ day was actually yesterday…..and the boy was home ‘sick’ in the morning. He made a miraculous recovery by lunch, so I dashed out and did all the running around that is sooooo much easier to do without kids. Sigh. They really are good children, as I’m sure yours are, but that whole bathroom thing is something else. I’m constantly barking ‘wait just a minute, I’m in the $^&*# bathroom’. Its a wonder they don’t know more swear words.
    The one saving grace? No more mad mornings trying to get everyone out the door fed and totally clothed (and with lunches, and sunscreen on and water bottles, planners signed, yadda yadda yadda).
    Enjoy the summer!

  8. A thought: if you were to invest in a drum carder yourself, it would be easier to convince the kids that carding is fun, not choresome, and maybe they’d actually do some for you.
    I’m dying to see a picture of that squirrel in action. We had a few in our old place in London who constantly dropped things–maple keys, acorns, cookies–on my beloved’s head (never mine; deliberate, I’m sure).

  9. I’m with Karin. “Here here!”
    Friday was my eldest’s last day of kindergarten. Preschool for the middle child ended the day before. I am ecstatic. First of all, I like having my little babies around. They are not yet old enough to have forced me to “let go and cut the apron strings”, and I like absolute control. Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh. But most importantly, I don’t have to drop everything at 12 noon EXACTLY and start making lunch, bribing (or threatening) them to eat it, issuing more threats about getting dressed (for REAL this time), stuffing backpacks with food and drink, signing papers, finding shoes (X’s 3) and socks and loading everyone in the car to get to the bus stop which is waaaaaaaaaay at the other end of the neighborhood.
    Yesterday, we ate lunch at 2:30, after I was done swatching the cotton cable sweater I’m knitting for my mom. 2:30!! It could have been 4:00 if I wanted it to. I LOVE it!!!!!
    I can imagine that at some point, I will feel the way you do, but as for now, I can’t pee in private regardless, so I’m happy to have them around.

  10. Oh god – I could weep. Our kids finish on Friday. Now repeat after me, I have no me-time, I have no me-time, I have no me-time – at least for the next 7 weeks ! Maybe the squirrel’s cold ? Probably not though. Let’s face it, it’s a rat with a big fluffy tail !

  11. One more thing…. Great job on the spinning. One morning last year, in my LYS there was a group of spinners around the back table area in action. I had never seen a wheel in person, and watched, fascinated for an hour or so. They were pretty snooty at first, but warmed up after awhile. (By the end, I was invited to join the group and attend guild functions!) The sound and rhythmic movement of spinning is so beautiful. I bought a book and some roving soon after and took a rental wheel home for awhile. I felt clumsy and frustrated, and the whole time was thinking about how I’d rather spend my time knitting. I have a lot of respect for what you do. I will someday try again, because the idea of being as graceful and rhythmic as those women I saw still calls to me from time to time. Mainly when I see you posting about it.

  12. On washing the fleece — would filling up a bathtub with really hot water work? Failing that, maybe you need to set up a boiling tub in the backyard! (Bonus — seeing the “rats” steaming away in a giant pot might scare away the squirrel.)
    Another thought on the squirrel — maybe you could distract it with dryer lint? Or the icky parts of the fleece?

  13. It’s ok to wish death upon squirrels. I used to live in an attic room and there was a squirrel building its nest right above the head of my bed. In case you were wondering, cursing and shouting at them doesn’t make them behave. It only makes them mad.
    Unrelated – what comments software are you using?

  14. I wash my fleece in the washing machine. The lock structure probably isn’t as preserved as lock washing leaves it, but I can pick out distinct locks and lash them onto combs, or line them up in a drum carder. I fill the washing machine with hottest water, add a crapload of soap or shampoo, add the fleece, turn the washer off, and let it sit for 2-6 hours, then spin it dry. Repeat with hot rinses until the water runs clear.
    If you’re pickier than I am, or if you’re washing, say, a wensleydale or something, you can pack locks into lingerie bags and then throw 12 of them at once into the washer.

  15. Even better, mesh apple/onion bags, then washing machine as above. Lock structure remains just fine, and the libidinous squirrel would have to drag off the whole bag (whose mesh might keep him from identifying with the locks. On the other hand, he might be into bondage.)
    And absolutely a drum carder. Borrow, rent, whatever it takes — but a drum carder.

  16. I have completely given up on bathroom privacy, and my kids are 6 and 8. I thought I had it made when my younger one was in daycare and they were all in toilet training mode. They had open stalls, so that the teachers could keep their eyes on the kids, and if one of the kids didn’t want to be watched by the other kids (cause anything bathroom related is fascinating when you are two) they just had to say “I want my privacy” and the teachers would shoo all the other kids away. The first time I heard my guy say that in his little two-year-old voice, I thought I would laugh until I died. But then I tried to use it on him the next time I went to use the bathroom myself–“Mommy, are you in there?” “Yes honey” “I come in?” “No baby, I want my privacy” “But mommy, I don’t want you to be lonely.” I gave up then, and haven’t even tried since.

  17. Godless, heathen, whatever — that is LOVE, girl. Doing what you’re doing to make this sweater is the knitting equivalent of the yoga picture I posted in my blog yesterday. Nope, not happenin’ for me — EVER.

  18. You scared me, so I counted it, yes two of my kids finished school today and they are off for 75 days. The youngest has another week to go so he only gets 68 days, don’t tell him, its causing enough fights that he has to go to school for the last week. Me, I am all for child sweat shops, get them working, if you can pay them in M+Ms all the better, mine want hard cash!!
    Thank you Stephanie for making us laugh, yes us, blog reading is now a shared activity, with at least one child, see nothing is sacred in the school holidays!! Have fun with the spinning looks like a long job but we will look forward to hearing all about it.

  19. I’m actually looking forward to a summer of reading about the creative, new ways your daughters find to make you insane. =)
    Yes, I am selfish and childless…thank you for asking. 😉

  20. *Pointing to Amanda*’s comment* Ask her how insane *her* mother is now! 🙂

  21. Stephanie, this fleece, and the locks, and the spun wool are unspeakably beautiful.
    The wool will suit your lovely curly-headed heathen wicked well.
    Does it not amaze you that wool and knitting are riveting every single day?

  22. Reading about and seeing your gorgeous fleece and the yarn you are making has finished the process of snapping me out of the mood I was in this morning, as I discovered that a shepherd had sent me one sample but had shipped the fleece that distintly *doesn’t* match the sample. You have restored that faith. Oh, my girl isn’t in school yet… that starts in August. I can’t wait!

  23. Okay-I may be the one dissenter in the crowd. I love summer vacation. Yes, I have three girls, and one in particular (the youngest who will be spending the most time with me) is going to drive me to drink, starting early in the morning, no doubt! But my 19 year old is working, and the 16 year old is going to six weeks of music school, so those long days at the beach with all my girls are few, and the nights of reading aloud long books together (which we have done until very recently) are gone, and having everyone’s friends over to swim and hang out…… I am looking forward to August 16th when Meg will be home and we might fit in two weeks of summer. Having said all that, I won’t miss the days of “I’m bored!” and “Can we…..?” and “Take me……” I am just feeling as though life has changed rather quickly in our home, and I wasn’t ready. Man-I suddenly feel all boo hooish, and I really am not. Dragging everyone to visit Meg at Tanglewood all summer will actually be a new and fun thing! All that knitting on the lawn! Can’t wait!

  24. Stephanie, I can’t help but notice that you have obviously 100% spun enough yarn for that ribbing you were thinking of making! Are you planning on knitting a front to go with it?
    Kids drive you nuts all summer. The minute you get in the bathroom they need you. When you’re on the phone they have to talk to you NOW. and then one day, school ends, and they aren’t hanging around cause they’ve moved out and grown up. Its great! and sometimes really really lonely without that whining and snarling. (which is why I now own 2 dogs) But I do sympathize with you! I once sent my kid to the sports store in town with a blank cheque and instructions to buy a basketball. (they couldn’t play anymore because the kid who owned the ball had moved away and selfishly took the ball with him) Looking back, I take this as proof that he had driven me completely over the edge.
    Barb B.

  25. Almost forgot this! I saw this ad in Grand River Yarn, but have never seen the actual needles. Thought they would be great when you don’t want to use circs. and when I saw how you knit Stephanie, I thought these just might be perfect for you. Anyone out there ever used them? These are called “swing needles” and the knob slides back and forth.
    Barb B.

  26. Two suggestions (which are probably one). When anyone says “I’m bored…” the best answer is to suggest some kind of housework. When my mother made such suggestions, it usually turned out that we weren’t all that bored after all!
    In your particular case – you could put a “bored” daughter on squirrel-chasing duty.

  27. Stephanie, I knitted a fingering weight, tunic length cardie for my size 2XL, 6’2″ beloved a few years ago on U.S. size 3’s. The yardage used was 3570 yards. In case you want to get really depressed, that’s 2.0284 and change miles (according to Google – don’t blame me if the math’s not right). This proves that: 1. I love him to distraction; 2. I’ve lost all contact with reality; and 3. I’m completely right when I say “if I’ve got to feed something that size, I’m not lifting anything as heavy as (fill in object of your choice)!”
    I strongly suggest that you think about this as a long-term, highly subdivided, only when inspired endeavor. I can tell you from experience, it can get pretty grim if that’s all you’re working on at the time!

  28. Well, morgen says she likes to card on the drum carder and I own one. Would you like to house a 17 year old and the drum carder for a month this summer? She wants to get out of the states.

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