Inspired, or profoundly stupid?

So I had this batt (Brushstrokes Batt from Indigo Moon Farm) and I set about spinning it up and was all pretty random about the whole thing. When I had two bobbins full (about half of the batt) I decided to let go, be random (that took a full glass of wine) and ply it against itself with absolutely no regard for what might happen. Blue against blue? Fine. Barberpole of blue and pink? Excellent. It was sort of freeing.


Turns out that I am very, very easy to entertain. Just like with variegated yarn, the excitement of seeing what colour is coming next charms and occupies me to no end. (This could explain much of my happiness in the world. I’m apparently simple.) It’s hard to publicly admit this, but it turns out that despite my experience and education, all the intrigue that I need to sit gripped at the spinning wheel for hours is waiting to see what two colours will ply together for the next 10 cm.

I’m very happy with the random, unconsidered yarn of my destiny. I started thinking about knitting the Highland Triangle shawl from Folk Shawls. (I’ve linked to Juno’s picture because I am smitten with hers. Smitten I tell you. There are others out there, but something about the “nutmeg” version has me covetous and planning. Please don’t point out that there is no hope, considering the plan that I have, that my shawl will be “nutmeg”. I am delusional, but happy.)

My plan was to knit the whole honking thing out of this yummy random yarn. Then I got to thinking. Why be random when you can be overly controlling, fussy and concerned? Why make it easy when you can make it hard? (Well. I didn’t quite think that last one, but you know how I like a challenge.) So I started coming up with a new plan.

I’ve taken what’s left of the batt (just about half) and separated it into it’s individual colours. Then I’ve started spinning and plying each of those colours. See?


The plan is to knit the centre triangle of the shawl out of the random stuff, then use the plain coordinates to knit the border in stripes.

What say you?

A) Wow. I don’t know how that’s going to look, but darn it, I sure do want to see you try.

B) Holy cow Steph. Bad plan. Put down the shawl pattern and back away from the spinning wheel.

C) Inspired. (Likely doomed, but inspired)

All suggestions will be, well..probably ignored since I might be obsessed anyway.

For the record, in case you were thinking about giving me a hard time about the gansey and, what was it Rams said? Joe freezing this winter while coughing weakly for want of a warm gansey?



No gifts today, since I’m still waiting for emails from all parties concerned from yesterday’s draw. Lemme sort that out, then I’ll add more. I will however draw your attention to the tally.

Knitters Without Borders has now officially raised more money than Willie Nelson. I’ll add something to the draw tomorrow, along with contemplating dancing in the street.

You guys are changing the world. Next stop…$100 000. 00

104 thoughts on “Inspired, or profoundly stupid?

  1. Oooh I love the yarn. And since it is you, Steph, I’m gonna have to vote D.) All of the above and just see what happens. πŸ™‚
    Have a great day!

  2. Whoops, something (or someone) has stolen some of our MSF money! I looked a few minutes ago and it was over $79 K, now it says $75,143.
    But we ARE marvelous, dahling.

  3. Oh wow. Your yarn is fabulous. I think they will be heavenly together. I vote for A and C since I think they are pretty much the same, at least, in my mind they are.

  4. Let me be sure I’m clear, here: You’ve found something that you love, that entertains you, that makes you profoundly happy, and you immediately decide to stop doing it?
    I vote (B), but I do so confident that what will happen is something involving both (A) and (C), and that it will make for entertaining blog fodder no matter what happens!
    I am also, by the way, having spent some little amount of time teaching myself to spin on my CD spindle, simply IN AWE of the beautiful yarn you have created. I want to bury my face in it….just gorgeous!

  5. A and C- more A than C though. Oh my gosh is is pretty!!!!! We are a pretty gentle lot, aren’t we. Except when someone interferes with our knitting/spinning time. Oh, and when the kids drive us crazy. There has to be some exponential formula relating how many kids you have to how quickly you’re reduced to a raving lunatic. Obviously, I’m having one of THOSE days… Spin and knit like the wind- AAAAA

  6. A. Definitely A. The whole spinning thing is unfathomable and fascinating to me, much less the plying part. I want to see how it turns out.

  7. Add my vote to the A column, please. Lovely, Lovely yarn you have made yourself to play with, so I look forward to the results, or at the very least, the letter you may write to it if it doesn’t do what you want… ;o)
    Many, many congrats on the new TSF total. If you want company in that dance down the street, lemme know and I’ll show up proudly wearing my TSF tee which arrived yesterday!

  8. but, um, I thought you didn’t like knitting lace patterns out of variegated yarn generally speaking?

  9. Just wondering………are you sure you are actually spinning Joe’s gansey wool………or…are you showing us the same spool over and over so we will think you might some day complete the stuff? Maybe it needs be like the baby blanket…….get it done already so you can forget it!
    Love ya, Carol

  10. Definitely inspired — and it should work. Given appropriate yardage. I suspect that the outer knitted edge takes a HUGE amount…
    Am I the only one who thinks the divided colors look absolutely cool??
    And I am SO glad that Joe has not been neglected for the (ahem) other spinning.

  11. Yes, Rachel H, I was thinking that same thing…but still I vote for A. And the Flower Basket Shawl she knitted out of the Chai silk was lovely…so…
    go for it Steph!

  12. A and C – I want to see you do it, and it will be inspired. Likely not doomed though, unless you run out of yarn (which is not going to happen, unless I’ve now cursed you?)

  13. Some weird hybrid of B & C.
    The pink and blue is really pretty, but I can’t make my head work around it in such a traditional shape – I look forward to being surprised, I mean dazzled. Dazzled is the word.
    And the outer knitted edge took – I dunno – about 1.5-2 of the 3.5+ skeins I used? Something in the vicinity of half.

  14. “B) Holy cow Steph. Bad plan. Put down the shawl pattern and back away from the spinning wheel.”
    Actually, it’s more like:
    B) Holy crap, Steph! You’re even more obsessive and less spontaneous than I am (which the resident expert, my child, agrees) — which also means you know this leads to option “C)”.

  15. A and C. Unless you have an option OY) As in Oy from my mouth to God’s ear this woman is crazy in wonderfull ways:)

  16. Actually, D) all of the above – but as an exercise it is fascinating.
    I really shall look forward to watching the outcome.

  17. Uh-oh. Read Laurie very, very carefully. When gracious, quiet people utter some measured reservation in the middle of the compliments, I back away fast and call the bomb squad.
    “Given enough yardage.”
    (A klong is defined as a rush of shit to the heart.)
    Laurie doesn’t think you’ll have enough.
    Be afraid. Be very afraid. (No, dammit, do NOT be challenged! I said AFRAID!)

  18. Uh, Stephanie, you are SUCH a good mate to continue spinning the wool for Joe’s gansey, when you know that all you want to do is spin that lucious, out of this world fleece, for your shawl that we are all waiting to see tomorrow.(whew, that was long, eh) My gosh, I’ve never seen someone with a family and other duties produce like you do!! AND, if that is the same spindle of yarn that you keep showing us, we deserve it because we put so much pressure on you, don’t we love? πŸ™‚ You’re our mentor, you go girl! hahahaha

  19. If you do the highland shawl, take a look at the pattern closely. I started, and it seems to me the lace pattern is not centred. I counted 2 extra stitches on the RHS of the triangle. Drove me nuts so I switched to the Irish shawl. Found it was 1 stitch off, so I decreased a stitch that wasn’t being used for anything. How can anyone write a pattern and not centre the lace, if the extra stitches don’t serve a useful purpose later? Almost done the Irish shawl (did 2 triangles not 4 to save yarn) and am really happy with it.

  20. D. (not just beacuase it is what my name starts with!)
    Dang it! Why in the world are you knitting another shawl????? Where do you keep them all??Are you using them for table clothes?? You have said that you look ridiculous in them, and although we all disagree, you have yet to change that position! ACK!! Knit something else!! ehehheh
    Besides it’s doomed I tell you! Doomed, doomed DOOOMED!!!
    (says Denise who is just jealous and kicking herself because she chose BLACK KSH when she won it from Jannette!!!and only 2 of Heavenly which is too small and amount to make her own shawl with…. OY!)

  21. A and C. I want to see you try it, and I think it’s inspired. I don’t know how it will look and I don’t know if it’s doomed, but those colors are wonderful and I think it’s worth a try!

  22. I’m another in the A and C camp. I’m so in awe of the random spinning/plying you’ve done. I swear, it looks good enough to nosh on, regardless of the wooliness.
    I will now anxiously sit and wait to see what happens with the yummy, yummy, candy yarn.

  23. Well, much as I’d love to see you try it, my conscience makes me vote for B. Bad idea. Although I admire your creativity and style greatly, I think you’ve had a small deviation from your usual sense. I just can’t picture that beautiful shawl with its delicate patterns hidden by variegation, its lovely border marred by stripes.
    Remember how much you like the nutmeg version? This is really, really not going to look like that.

  24. You know this will drive you crazy, don’t you? Of course you won’t be able to cancel the plan once you got the idea, but I’ll be saying “I told you so” when your family has to call the nice very calming men in white coats to take you away.
    And look at the MSF total! Go us!

  25. Anything to get out of that baby blanket, eh? LOL I love the colors and the shawl pattern, so I am eager to see how it turns out. I’ve been thinking the last couple of days about using my woolcombs to blend up a bunch of Brown Sheep ends and pieces. You’ve strengthened my resolve. I’ll just have to figure out how to explain things to the plain grey-brown bluefaced leister currently in progress…….

  26. I’d like to be on of the dissenters and say I think it’s B) Doomed, too much goin’ on with all those stripes, back away from the wheel.
    On another note, I’ll go with those that say it will be great blog food if you decide to do it.

  27. What a thrill to reach $75,000+!!
    The yarn is so beautiful! I’m just wondering why mess with something that great…but then A is a consideration.

  28. A resounding AAAAAAA from me – if anyone can pull it off and make it look FAAAAAAAAAAAAB-ulous, it’s got to be you! Go for it! : )

  29. I have to vote B though I could easily be wayyyy off. I think you are onto a splendid idea but it might play out better with socks (I can see ’em now) or a sweater of some sort. Something more plain than a shawl.

  30. A. Definitely A. (and like Denise, not just because my name starts with it πŸ™‚
    Also, I’m completely with Laurie, that blue spun by itself is bee-yoo-tee-ful! I can’t wait to see how the other individuals colours turn out.

  31. I *was* going to say A…. but now that I have looked long and covetously at the bits you have spun thus far, I have to say C.
    Go, Steph, Go!

  32. Hee hee. C! C! C! Let me grab some wine and a snack so I can get comfy and watch this one.

  33. OH! You SO know I say A. If only for the enormous pleasure I get in watching someone else go through these gyrations for knitting their creative breakdowns. I’m looking forward to it.

  34. Depends what you mean by “stripes” at the border- horizontal or vertical? (inasmuch as things can be horizontal or vertical on the edges of a triangle…).
    Vertical would be insane. Like, you know, intarsia blocks along the edge. So B.
    Horizontal would be a worthwhile experiment. Most likely doomed only b/c you’ll then obsess about whether each stripe has the same number of rows, and you surely won’t have the right yardage in each little skein for that πŸ˜‰ But definitely C, I wanna see you try.
    I do wonder why someone would un-blend a beautifully blended bat, but then, the result is pretty cool.

  35. C! I sure want to see you pull it off, and (as always) you inspire me to greater heights!

  36. Good for you, letting go and all. Even if only for the center triangle. I think it’ll look beautiful. You’re gonna go nuts, we all know that. And it won’t work just the way you want the first (or second) time. But you can do it!

  37. A A A
    I have no clue how it will look but I have faith in your ideas. (Scary, huh?) And besides, if it looks like crap it will make a great blog entry.
    Glad to see you haven’t forgotten pool ole Joe. As if, right?

  38. I vote for A. I do think it will look wonderful (very color coordinated), but will you get the dreaded pooling with the varigated? You’re an inspiration. I might have to do Tuesdays are for spinning. Otherwise, there’s never enough time.

  39. oooooooo, gotta go with B on this one. Though I think the yarn is lovely! Just not to grow up to be that shawl. But you will prove me wrong and make me believe C. πŸ˜‰

  40. I’d say any combination you decide to put together will work wonderfully. How can you miss with those colors? It looks good enough to eat. Do you ever dream you are eating cotton candy and then wake up missing part of your stash?

  41. Wow the spinning is lovely. The batt is too, I would love to have that sitting around the house in a basket, just looking pink/blue/ and lovely! I saw go for the stripey shawl look, you never know till you try! About the gansey… I’ve noticed you find plain colours boring, and simple patterns dull… how on earth are you going to knit the gansey with just grey wool??

  42. A, for sure. I love thrill of the unknown. It’s really incredible looking stuff.
    Hooray for the MSF total! Tip of the hat to you.

  43. Steph I LOVE the random yarn so much, I just think the solid stripes would be a total drag. So my vote is B. But it’s a half-hearted B, because like I said, love the yarn. So maybe it should be D: keep up the total insanity, forget the fussy and complicated and gooo with it!

  44. I say “C” but without the “Doomed” part. I think it’s just plain inspired! Of course, this is coming from someone who’s knitting colored stripes into her Flower Basket Shawl (made of Chai, thank you very much!) . . . so I guess that’s just what I’m “into” right now. I think the shawl will look great!

  45. A!!! The few things I made with a similar mishmash of handspun turned out just fine.

  46. Eh! … I mean A. Someone left some BC Growers Canada Day cider low enough to be grabbed by oversized children such as myself, thus changing my voice to be a little overCanadian. Sorry!

  47. Is this like one of those bad game shows where the answer is also the thing that makes the contest feel like and ass BECAUSE IT IS SO OBVIOUS?! You are a dreamer m’dear. God Bless us all. πŸ˜‰

  48. I say “A” what is life without a little surprise now and then?
    Mary B

  49. How about d) ARE YOU CRAZY?? Don’t do it. Maybe solid for the border, but under no circumstances whatsofreakingever must you stripe it.

  50. A hundred grand — that’s exactly what I was thinking yesterday when I took note of the total. Awesome, awesome knitters. Willie Nelson is a pretty cool guy to beat.

  51. great planning; it would have me grinding my teeth in a week! Now a stupid question: What’s a gansey and who is Joe?

  52. Oooh, pretty yarn and shawl. I say “A”.
    For the KWB tally, are you counting those of us who give monthly because of your post? You deserve to count that as well!
    ~ Christina

  53. I vote for A. Not sure how the stripes will look, but you are a great candidate to try it out! Go to it! Happy spinning!

  54. I vote Option F.
    Well, you KNOW what that stands for…
    That’s the option after trying all the previous options and deciding that you really wanted it in one solid colour, probably nutmeg or something like it, except you spun all this yarn and tried options A through C, which would mean you also tried D (all of the above), got to E (stands for Emptyglass) and decided F*It,IReallyWantedToDoThisIn…IDon’tKnow…Nutmeg. So. Option F. Buy a Freakingenormous batt of something else and spin it up. Make sure E no longer applies, though…
    There, I’m sure that was enormously clarifying, if not downright helpful. πŸ™‚
    Still, I’m watching…I think the previous options could look lovely. And that separated bluish colour is stunning πŸ™‚ And I really honestly can’t wait to see you take some of that gansey yarn and actually start a gansey with it…

  55. I’m definitely feeling C. There’s a pinch of A thrown in there, but no B at all. I’m particularly interested because I just spun one Indigo Moon batt (with more contrasty colors) randomly, and I’m not 100% thrilled with how it turned out. I have another one, and I was kind of thinking about whether to navajo ply it, or maybe separate the colors….I’m eager to see how this turns out–go for it, girl!

  56. A with a little C thrown in for good measure. I do enjoy living vicariously through you – I’ve owe a lot to you, and will need to review your back entries once I (someday, far far away from now) purchase (or rent perhaps) a wheel.
    I think varigated sock yarns (what color stripe is coming next?!?) is part of why I like knitting socks, and why they seem to move so fast. I can’t seem to put them down, and when I’m with friends and family I sometimes make them pay attention to what color just came up. They are getting to the point now when they realize they just need to smile and feign interest. They’re a work in progress. (the new total has me looking into pledging more; thank you for the inspiration, and the organization!)

  57. C. And some A. And how about D: do it so I have something to do (ie watch you) other than bang my head on my cubicle walls.

  58. Well, at least if you were to dance in the street (naked or not) at this time of year, you probably won’t lose anything important to frostbite!! Is a “Knitters beat Willie” t-shirt next up on the CafePress site? (or is that just rude and possibly suggestive?)

  59. I vote for A. I have faith in you. Though, I confess, I love the random look – stunning! The single colors? Yawn…

  60. A.
    I have to say I’m more preoccupied with the gansey yarn. I know you’re planning to ply it, but, dang, those are some fine-gauge singles. And it’s going to go into something huge in stockinette?

  61. I vote for A. The colours are lovely to begin with and I love how a project can evolve and doesn’t have to be stuck in a box!

  62. I’m in London near where the bombs exploded.
    I don’t mean to hijack your blog but I want you to know that it is comforting to be able to contact people on the other side of the world.
    I work in an international university so everyone has been phoning and emailing their loved ones to let them know they are ok. I read your blog daily and I treat you and the Knitters Without Borders community as loved ones too.
    Also, it is raining hard.

  63. Abi, I’m glad you posted and let us know you’re ok. It must all be terribly frightening and confusing where you are right now, and I want you to know that these people on the other side of the world are thinking about you and everyone over in the UK as the developing stories hit our news stations, and wish we could reach out an enfold you in a comforting hug. Keep well, and remember we’re out here for you.

  64. I vote option D – you’re crazy. That border took almost 600 yards of yarn. Are you sure you’re gonna have enough solids to do that? And Bind off?

  65. I think you’re nuts. You should continue to enjoy the variation in spinning and not worry about separating the colours. Stand up to your anal retentive side and tell it to back down.

  66. Why not do the center triangle with the solid colors and the border with the variegated?

  67. Not A, because I can do the math & have a fair idea what it’s going to look like. So, B or C depending on yardage.
    How so? Let’s assume that the length of the border is half the length of the core triangle (measured from centre back to point). That’s about what it looks like from the pictures. Therefore, the area of the border will be 1.25 times the area of the core triangle (ie needs one-and-a-quarter times as much yarn). You’re going to stripe it, and it looks like you have six colours of stripes. If you made the stripes of even width, the first stripe would have an area approximately one sixth that of the core triangle (a tad more, but still close), with the area of each stripe increasing – the last stripe would have an area of approximately one quarter of the core triangle.
    Obviously, you can’t do this if you use all of the variegated for the core – your stripes will end up getting thinner and thinner (remember there’s also wastage from each single colour skein as you match remaining yarn to huge row lenghts), and the total border will end up a lot thinner than the pattern calls for.
    So, your choices are:
    1. Even-width stripes, and make sure to use only a portion of the variegated yarn for the core triangle (a little less than four times the amount that you will be using for your last stripe), and for the early stripes (the first will use about two-thirds of the amount you expect to use for the last stripe). If you have enough yarn, this is the most anal-retentive way to do it, and you get lots of left-over yarn with which to knit a funky matching hat (for example, a variegated crown with striped base).
    2. Decreasing-width stripes. This might look cool if you arrange them in colour order such that it looks, colour-wise, as if it’s tapering away to nothing as well as actually tapering away in width. Or the reverse, getting stronger in colour as the edge gets thinner. You still have a bit of leftover variegated yarn (you use about three-quarters of it), but much less than for option 1.
    3. Do the stripes in the middle bit, and the variegated for the border. This allows you to use pretty much all of the yarn.
    Regardless of choices, the yarn’s gorgeous and whatever you make from it will be, too.

  68. I just picked up a copy of Folk Shawls from the library– it is tremendously inspiring, I agree.
    And I love the colour of yarn you spun. I’m an “intermediate beginning” knitter and will be starting to learn to spin tonight (*gulp*), and I love to see what others have done.

  69. OOOh, that is SOOO pretty! I have been playing with my spinning – no longer just navajo plying and starting to spin stuff up two ply, just enjoying the flow of colour though my fingers (like you)…. I now have plans to create colour flows through a number of colours with one base colour underneath…
    I just want to see how the colours flow when it is knitted!

  70. Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try it out the way you’d like it to possibly be. If it sucks, you can always frog it and try something else. Be adventurous.

  71. Um, I vote for making the whole thing in that incredibly wonderful variagated, no striped, no vari no… what ever! gorgeous yarn you were making before you got side tracked with crazy making single color bits. What happened? Did the kids stop fighting? start over with something even MORE inane?
    Either way, I’m now off to look more closely at that shawl my ownself. I’m going to dither about whether to make it solid or variagated ….

  72. A. I can picture it in my head, actually. It can look really good. I hope there isn’t too much color pooling!

  73. I vote for option C… your website– it’s fabulous. I’m a beginning knitter, and your poncho pattern is the best I’ve seen! On my way from California to the fireworks competition and comedy festival in Montreal. Thanks again for your outstanding site! Best wishes from Daryl πŸ™‚

  74. Ooh, I love the Brushstrokes batts. I bought one in Rhinebeck last fall, and it’s about halfway spun up. I may just buy another someday and wrap it around myself like a toga–I love the way that stuff feels.

  75. The variegated yarn is just — well, let’s just say that if my LYS carried it, I’d have bought all of their stock. Since they don’t, I’ll download the photo so I can admire, fawn and adore. For the Highland shawl, I’m torn between A and B. B is nice, safe, and would complement the intricate nature of that pattern, but you’ve already completed/shown off many solid-color shawls. Ah, what the hell, A all the way!

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