People just don’t understand the value of PAIRS of things. Together.

sock blockersThese are sock blockers.  Antique sock blockers.  See how long they are?  That’s because they were used for blocking hand knit hose – like kilt hose, or women’s stockings.  Sheri from the The Loopy Ewe owns this particular pair, along with singles of several others.  Why would someone sell one of a thing meant to go as a pair???  Would you sell one bookend?

I need some antique sock blockers; when you spin your own yarn it becomes quite clear exactly how important sock blockers are to maintaining the fit of your socks.  Superwash yarn might be great for the washer and dryer, but it’s hell on the environment — the process of removing all the microscopic scales on the outer surface of the wool is so toxic that the superwash process is illegal in the U.S.  and countries like Turkey get to bear the brunt of our obsession with being able to wash and dry everything by machine.

Ironically you can buy superwash roving to spin.  I do have some, I was talked into it by someone who pointed out that when making baby things, it is better for mom to be able to just throw it in the washer rather than go through the hassle of hand washing and drying flat.  I still have most of this roving.  It’s not very nice to spin; it gives a product that is not elastic, just as superwash yarn isn’t very elastic.  That’s because the scales are part of the structure of the wool; removing the scales also damages the fiber, making it straight, and removing the natural bounce of the fiber.  Nylon gets added to the mix in order to make up for the loss of strength and bounce, both of which resist abrasion in the wool’s natural form.

When I spin yarn for socks, I add mohair rather than nylon.  It gives me the qualities I want for a sock yarn – high strength, resistance to abrasion.  The wool can be used alone, but it’s hardier for socks if you add the mohair.  It’s nature’s nylon.  And when I spin for socks, I spin a much tighter single, both because it needs to be for socks in order to maximize abrasion resistance, but also because I’m going to ply it into a 3 ply and it needs some overtwist to maintain that tight structure for socks.  The three plies make for a more rounded yarn, which also helps resist abrasion; a two ply lies flat and therefore is more likely to wear at one spot, it can’t move as well.

Because using mohair and NON superwash wool to spin yarn for socks makes them bouncy and elastic, the socks require blocking/stretching after being washed.  The yarn retains a lot of elasticity inherent in the fiber, and wants to curl up tightly after washing.  The blockers allow them to conform to a shape that prevents them from shrinking down too much while drying and maintains the spaces where you really need them – the heel, the arch, and the length in the toes.  I cannot STAND socks that are too small; I prefer snug fit all around, but I want room for my toes!  Plus, socks that are baggy will wear more quickly than those that are snug.  More abrasion in more areas.

Anyway, the reason I started this post was to bemoan the lack of availability of sock blockers like those of old.  You can buy new sock blockers, even “knee high” blockers, but they aren’t really long enough for true knee highs, and especially not long enough for kilt hose or women’s stockings.  And it’s unbelievably difficult to find antique blockers that 1. are in a pair and 2. are less than $100 for ONE.  I do have a pair that were advertised as being for knee high socks, and I use them all the time, but they aren’t nearly long enough.  I really, really, really want blockers that are actually long enough to block hand made kilt hose and stockings.

I can’t be the only one that wants this stuff.

It’s my new year, some resolutions

I had my birthday recently and I made some resolutions.  I never do them on New Year’s Eve, it’s not my new year – my birthday begins a new year for me.

I disabled my account on Facebook.  I joined to follow my children but it just takes too much of my time.  I miss seeing pics of the grandbabies but not enough to sign back up.

I have severely limited my time on the computer unless it is for school work.  This actually interferes with one of my jobs but that’s OK.  I’d rather make less money and have more time.

I still haven’t gotten serious about an exercise program but that’s coming, it’s still pretty hot here in the desert for workouts when you cool only with a swamp cooler and fans.

I already eat pretty well, so that will continue.

I plan to make more time for the crafting business aspect of my crafting business — treating it like a job, making time on a regular basis (even 15 minutes is more than it often gets lately).  I can’t sell things if I don’t make things.  And I really want my husband to get more involved with the photography aspect so that my online photos do my stuff justice.  I try, but it’s just not my thing.  My loom is pretty self explanatory; my spinning wheels are pretty complex but don’t take a 250 page book to understand.  Our camera does.

I am going to do more winter gardening and after my final next week I’m going to get the winter veggies started.  I would like to buy a grow light, but they’re fairly expensive.  I’ve been reliably informed that my regular light bulbs do not give my plants the light wavelengths they need for proper growth.

That’s all.  I can’t get too crazy about the resolutions because now they’re public and I’ll be held accountable to them by those who are closest to me!

Prayer in motion.

If you have been a reader of this blog for a long while you will know that I am a Pagan.  I used to do yoga and should still, but life is a lot busier than it used to be and after my meltdown of a couple years ago it’s hard to go back to.  I remember lots of things I’d rather not when I get into certain formerly favorite poses, and until I get past that point in my yoga practice, it will remain much less a practice than an occasional stretch.

I also meditated in somewhat a Buddhist method:  I would meditate on having compassion for all beings, especially those that really *pissed* me off.  It helped.  I have restarted that practice in recent months; there are things going on in my life with family members that require I consciously develop compassion toward them.  And perhaps myself as well, since I am certainly one of those who is *pissing* myself off lately.  My entire life is a reflection of my spirituality:  growing my own vegetables, raising chickens, making my own soap, using a clothes line, recycling, weaving, spinning, knitting, etc….it is all a reflection of the reverence I feel for the planet I share with billions of other beings, the awareness of the fact that what I do has an impact on untold numbers of other beings.  I am not perfectly consistent, but I try to live my values.

I think that my last post arose from the hurt I felt at my husband and me being basically the only significant family members not to be present at this rite.  I am used to feeling like an outsider among my own family members but this was rather more than a simple lack of consideration, it felt like a very large slap in the face toward everything I tried to do in raising my children.  I tried to raise them to have strong ethics (secular), values (personal) and to think critically and independently so as not to be brainwashed into a way of life that forces one to condemn others based on sexual or religious preference.

I have failed in that job.  Completely, miserably, utterly.

One thing I have learned about myself is that I meditate and pray best when I am in motion; even holding a yoga pose requires active participation.  As a result, I often make activities or housework a prayer or a time for meditation.

The fiber I prepped and spun into yarn was part of a meditation and a prayer for the person, the couple, and the relationship it was celebrating.  While the rite is over, as far as I am concerned at least, the relationship will continue.  For me not to complete the prayer by not completing the shrug simply does not seem right to me.  The meditative and prayerful act of choosing, cleaning, carding, spinning the fibers, and then knitting with them, consciously imparting my hopes and prayers for a happy life for them at each step, is not dependent on their actions.  Nor does my hurt and disappointment change my hopes and prayers for a long happy and fruitful relationship for them.

What it comes down to is that my faith is only as good as my discipline.  If I cannot have compassion on all beings when they and I need it most, then I’m not engaging in any sort of meaningful spirituality, only in fooling myself.  And so, I will complete the shrug.  I bought some very nice silver lined beads, and have some that were given to me by a generous friend, with which to complete it.  The yarn was wet finished first thing after chores this morning, before coffee even, and is hanging to dry.  I will complete this prayer; not to do so is to deny compassion, for them or myself.

I will not be driving to Idaho in November though.  The logistics of an 8 hour drive in winter for an event that was supposed to take place on the same day as my final (and has now already taken place) can’t be reconciled.  I simply can’t leave if I can’t take the final, it presents too many problems and the instructor still has not agreed to let me take it early.  Many things happen for reasons we don’t necessarily understand; perhaps this is one of them.