Far Above

This post comes to you from high above the middle of Canada – sort of. I’m way too cheap to pay for the inflight wifi unless something really important is going on so I wrote this at 10000m above the earth and 818km an hour, somewhere over what must be Saskatchewan, but I’m posting it in the lounge in Vancouver, waiting for my flight to Seattle.

I don’t usually work on flights, or write on flights, unless I really want to. I’ve got a rule that when I’m this far off the earth I can’t possibly have a responsibility to it, and so I knit, and watch movies and this time is all my own. I fly a lot, and having this rule has made me feel a lot better about the hours I log on planes. I almost look forward to it now.

Today though, I’m blogging, and working on Bike Rally stuff and answering email and organizing and trying to land a little more caught up than I have been. It’s probably mostly hopeless, but I would really enjoy the feeling that I tried. (I have a sock in progress on my lap as consolation.) Lately I’ve been particularly delusional about what I can accomplish in a day- like, the other day? I decided I would deal with all my email, and then immediately left for a training ride I was committed to. I have no idea how I thought that I was going to answer all my mail while I was on my bike (or answer all my mail even if I was off my bike) but I knew I was going on that training ride, and I still made my completely unachievable goal to answer email. Why on earth I didn’t make the task for the day something like “ride 80km” as I strapped on my cycling shoes, will remain a mystery forever, or maybe the only way you can continue to disappoint yourself once you’re almost fifty and used to all your regular failings.

I did get a few little things done – the World’s Top Knitwear Model™ and I were together, and she agreed to model my finished Russell Street. (I think she was feeling the competition from Elliot, who of course, is only not the World’s Top Knitwear Model™ because he’s not cute on purpose.)

Pattern: Russell Street

Yarn: Autumn Rainbow Kit from Cannon Hand dyes

A nice cozy, generously sized shawl/scarf/wrap thing, finished thankfully just as summer arrived properly and Sam had to wear it in the blazing heat.

(Gratuitous grandson picture, unrelated in every way, but it should make up for the disappointment of this next bit.)

Last week I also turned my attention to that pretty little Jacob fleece. I still don’t know what I want to make – but I now that I want to make the most of the fact that they’re a spotted sheep, and see what interesting thing I can do. I started sorting the fleece… making piles of totally white, totally brown, and then a pile of locks that were mostly white with a little brown, or mostly brown with a little white.

Next I had this big plan that I was going to hand card it all. You know how people are sometimes on about “slow food” or all that stuff about being intentional? I was going to super-intentionally sit down with hand cards and a spinning cloth on my lap, and card out the little bits of VM* and make perfect and beautiful little rolags and line them up in a basket.

Then I saw my drum carder, and I thought about how much I actually want to be spinning and knitting with this, and boom. That wee machine was clamped to the table and I was throwing fleece into it.


It still took several hours over a few days – but I ended up with the most charming little row of batts you’ve ever seen. Four white, and then two each of three shades of grey/brown, and two dark batts of brown. (I snipped the little sunburned/bleached tips off of the dark locks, so that they would be even darker.)

They look delicious to me. I imagined bringing them with me to Port Ludlow, sitting in the sunshine and spinning, getting that all spun up so that I could start knitting it right away. I went into the kitchen and got out my travel wheel (what? Where do you keep yours?) and then couldn’t quite find it in myself to slog it all the way here when spinning time at the retreat is likely a total fantasy. Then I imagined I could ask Judith or Debbi to bring me a wheel because they’re driving, but then I thought that maybe that was a lot to ask when the spinning time is the previous mentioned fantasy. It also seemed kinda dumb to give up suitcase room to something you’re probably not going to use (and yes I already reminded myself that fibre can squash down pretty small in a suitcase) but in the end wheels are big and pragmatism won and the orderly rows of batts stayed home, on the dining room table (what? Where do you keep yours?) and I packed off without them, knowing they’ll be a really nice birthday present to myself when I get home next week.

Now I’m on this plane, an unknit sock on my lap, no time to knit it, and one word just occurred to me.

Spindle. *****

*VM is “vegetable matter”. It’s straw and seeds and crap the sheep got into. (It’s also occasionally actual crap, depending on how nicely the fleece was skirted.**)

**Skirting is when you lay out a fleece, usually right after shearing, and take off all the yucky bits around the edges. Short fibres, dirty or matted fibres, actual crap etc.***
*** This fleece was beautifully skirted and also washed so mostly it just has a little straw and grass. A fleece from Judith would never have actual crap after she dealt with it.****

****Maybe before.

*****Because you know, it’s not stupid to bring things you won’t use if they are small.

39 thoughts on “Far Above

  1. That shawl is amazing, and so is Sam in it. I’ve spent the morning spinning on my spindles while my little niece naps, and the thought while reading this wasn’t “spiindle”, it was “I’d just take the Jacob with me to show to people, never mind spinning it.”

  2. Have a wonderful time in Seattle!

    Truthfully: if you want to move ahead quickly enough that you’ll opt for the drum carder over hand cards, then you want to move ahead quickly enough to use your wheel. I spindle a lot and find it productive, but if you want to have the yarn in your lap, the wheel will be your best bet when you’re back home. You’ll find plenty of other things to do in the meantime.

    If there’s any fiber left over, spindle some yarn for mitts. That’s an achievable goal.

    Happy Birthday next week.

  3. I think I may have had to put my orderly batts into something slightly more protective than sitting on the dining room table.

    Personally, I have been carrying around spindles in my purse because you never know when you might have a moment…

  4. I’m the same kind of delusional as you. DH just smiles and nods now. The Universe will pass you the perfect project to hand card when it’s time. Russel Street looks fabulous on The World’s Top Knitwear Model. There are never enough photos of babies.

  5. Take a good look at the pic of the fleece with the coffee cup. Look up towards the top of the fleece. I swear it has two eyes and a nose. I think it’s some kind of Ewok.

  6. The shawl is gorgeous. Sam is still the world’s top knitwear model. Your grandson is so, so handsome. And those batts… be still my heart, they are stunning. Enjoy the retreat!

  7. I just had to look up Jacob fleece on the internet, and found that the sheepcare an ancient breed with wonderful spots on their wool. Guess all the busy knitters in the world knew that already. But I didn’t, so thanks for improving my mind, and knitting terminology

  8. Nods. . . the dining room table is totally the place where the next-to-be-used fiber belongs. And the fiber being sorted. And FOs being blocked. That’s why I got the extra large one.

  9. The only reason for not putting fiber, etc., on the dining table and all over the house is if one is the guardian of naughty cats. Which I am. Sigh. Love, love, love Sam’s green hair!

  10. The Russell Square thing looks great, and it coordinates well with Sam’s dress. Did you get to wear it before she “borrowed” it? Also, the batts are lovely, but will they still be on the dining room table when you get back? What if Joe gets adopted by another cat, or if squirrels break into the house?

  11. This is somewhat related to your post but I was in Toronto just last weekend to run a race. I thought Toronto would be a crispy cool city on the lake. Imagine my surprise when it was like being on the surface of the sun. I studied the temps for several months before deciding it would be heavenly to get out of this upper Midwestern heat and up to Toronto. Canada-what were you thinking? Kind of nervy to raise the stakes about 15 degrees F AND produce dewpoints where just standing outside triggers extreme perspiration.
    I don’t know how the World’s Top Knitwear Model™ even held that Russel Square near her actual body, let alone around her neck. I hope you had a cooling station nearby.
    I also hope to come back to Toronto because I love Canada, even though there was some serious weather trickery going on last weekend.

  12. On a whirlwind trip to Nebraska to celebrate my grandson’s first birthday this weekend. Spindle and a little fiber was sitting onto of my small bag this morning, but common sense won out and it stayed at home. I know I won’t have time to spin, and really, two knitting projects will be plenty! Have a great weekend and enjoy Port Ludlow. I hope you can get outside and just relax a little this trip

  13. There is obviously only one solution. Once you land in Seattle. Scout out a new spindle and of course bit of new fiber to test it out with,. Sock will have company, spindle will be will trained, and whispery voice will be satisfied.

  14. You could have brought a spindle, but really? Do you think you’d have any more time to spin on a spindle than you would on a wheel? Probably better you didn’t bring one. In any case, your batts look delicious and will lovely to dive into when you get back.

  15. I don’t know about other people but I am always keeping fibre that I am working on (or not actually doing anything with at the moment) on our dining room table. To the eternal chagrin of Husband and the blissful disregard that the 6 year old has to all clutter.

    Seems totally normal to me…

    Every time I don’t bring a spindle with me I always kick myself, especially those times when I have only little moments to work in. If I want something done on the wheel it might go faster but it also seems to suck up bigger chunks of time.

  16. I have a 1.5 hour commute. I used to try to be “productive” for work. Now I knit or read or sleep. I am a much happier commuter.

  17. Have a wonderful time with all the yarn groupies! And when you arrive home … Happy Birthday.

    One year I will join you on one of your fabulous retreats! They look like such fun at Port Ludlow.

  18. Your thinking process sounds a lot like mine in the year or two after I lost my mom. Don’t get yourself too down about being over scheduled and behind on things (not like most of us aren’t usually behind). I just found myself slightly more delusional about what I could accomplish for a lot longer than I would have thought. You do get an awful lot done anyway!

  19. Love the shawl, and Elliott is so cute. He totally steals the show.

    (Carding with a drum roller is *not* cheating!)

    Have a wonderful time in Port Ludlow, wish I were there.

  20. Those batts are gorgeous! I can’t wait to see what you make with them. The natural, neutral shades really entice me. Have a wonderful birthday next week. Looking forward to seeing the socks that you knit on the airplane,too. You always pick the prettiest yarns…

  21. Nextt time your flying over Saskatchewan why not try Skydiving be sure to find you a place to stay
    There is actually a bed in my yarn room
    Soft sweet dreams, most of it is Alpaca

  22. You will enjoy the consistency of spinning all of it on the wheel, rather than part wheel, part spindle; and as busy as you are lately, I suspect you’ll have finished yarn much faster using the wheel. 🙂

    Thanks for the lovely suggestion on what to do with my collection of miniskeins. I’ll be looking up that shawl pattern. Gorgeous shawl & model. (As she always is.) 🙂

    Thanks for the gratuitous cute-grandson picture. 🙂

  23. Yep, bring my “small” knitting bag to work EVERY day. NEVER get to knit. But I can’t leave home without it. Just in case. Sigh.

  24. I have to say, when I saw “disappointment” before the second bit, I had a heart-clenching moment where the dreaded “m” word came to mind. It was a relief to read the denouement, I must say.

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