Monday, April 23, 2012

Single ply yarns.

Actually, the name is misleading. Because plying is, by definition, strands of fiber wrapped around each other, single ply yarns should really be called "not plied yarns".

But anyway.

Here is our culprit:
It is simply a column of fiber, loosely twisted together. Unlike a plied yarn, which is several of those columns, twisted around each other:
That's a two ply yarn, one ply of blue and one ply of green.

What holds yarns together, ultimately, is friction. The twist of the yarn holds the fibers together, and the friction of them rubbing together keeps the yarn from pulling apart. The more twist, the more friction, the stronger the hold, the stronger the yarn. (Unless you overtwist to the point the fibers break, but that's not today's problem.) A single ply of yarn simply doesn't have enough friction to hold itself together under stress.

That flaw explains all the problems that single ply yarns have: The pilling, general weakness, and other abrasion issues are all because there's not enough twist/friction to hold the fiber in place. That's the reason single ply yarns are 'splitty' to knit with, too.

Yes, the structure of knitted fabric CAN help hold the fibers in place. But that means knitting so tightly that any softness in the 'hand' of the yarn (how it feels) is lost. See this?
Size two/2.75mm needles. It's still flexible, of course, but it's not the soft fuzz-fest that most people imagine when they first handle a single ply yarn. (Madeline Tosh, I'm lookin' at you.) This is going to be a scarf; single ply yarns are only good for low-abrasion projects like this. Socks, to be worn inside shoes, will be destroyed simply by rubbing on the shoes.

If single ply yarns suck so much, you ask, why am I knitting with one? Well, hell! Look at that color shift! I couldn't resist. But it IS splitty, and quite annoying to work with.

Why do manufacturers keep making them, then? Well, think about it. Plying adds another entire manufacturing step to the yarn making process. It uses a lot of power. Power costs money. Basically, twist is expensive. That explains not only single ply yarns, but all these under-twisted commercial yarns on the market.

If you're still interested in this topic, try "The Knitter's Book of Yarn" by Clara Parkes. She explains all this and more, in fascinating detail. :)

Now, I'm gonna go spin. I've got this glorious merino/nylon sparkle blend from Frabjuous Fibers and I can't wait to see it finished. Which means plying.

Friday, April 13, 2012


(For those new readers I've picked up, hi. I use this blog as a kind of journal, so there's ONE PLACE I know I can always find information. Today you're stuck with my kid.)

This is the Goob's current state:
Jeep tee shirt, purple tie-dyed skirt, and the cat. There you have it.

Lately she's having what I call a "brain spurt". Like a growth spurt, but it's cognitive stuff that she's making huge growth in. Her reading is just AMAZING. She's doing sight reading, the important, useful stuff. She'll see signs go past as we're driving, read them, and start telling me how we need to stop for whatever reason. She sees shows she likes go past on the digital TV guide and yell for me to stop, go back, and turn one on. She's officially beyond the sound-it-out phase, at least for common words. This pleases me immensely, because I think reading is THE skill you need for education. Everything else comes from it. (This was brought home to me when I went back to school at age 35 and was surrounded by kids; some had VERY shaky reading skills and it hampered them at every turn.)

I babble.


Along with the reading is other communication. She's been drawing signs.

This was outside her room, to keep me from looking in:

And this was drawn to warn people the kitchen floor was wet:
I especially like, on the left, she's put a little sign-in-a-sign, that looks like the ones put out in public buildings to warn of water. The action of the stick figure is worthy of XKCD, too. Love it.

The other day, we were watching Top Gear. (Top Gear UK, thank you, no American prissiness needed.) If y'all are curious about what I watch when knitting lately? Top Gear. During one show, one of the hosts gets an automatic weapon and fires enough bullets that he knocks down a tree. The Goober makes an "I am impressed" noise and told me "He's a gun lumberjack!"

There's also been epic yard work across the street. Retaining walls built, poured cement steps jackhammered out, all sorts of craziness. The Goob has watched it all with her nose pressed to the window. When they ripped out the shrubs in the front yard, put them in a dump truck, and drove them off, the Goob started calling them "plant burglars".

Sekhmet, too, is watching the action across the street.
And also the finches in that shrub poking up behind the curtain, to the right.

Now if you'll excuse me, my OT guy has decided spinning and knitting are exercise, and as such must be done every day. I have to do at least fifteen minutes of each.

For the first time, OT seems kind of cool.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Twenty years.

Yup. It's my anniversary today. The husbeast and I have been married for twenty years. I feel like the occasion should be marked by some huge, big deal. But even if it were, I'd still be left feeling like... what? How did this happen? It didn't FEEL like twenty years. (Which, according to the husbeast's grandfather, means you're doing it right. When twenty years feels like an eternity, it's time for divorce.) We had a conversation that went something like this, the other night:

HIM: What's the gift for twenty years?
ME: Electronics.
HIM: Huh. What about twenty five?
ME: Electronics.
HIM: Fifty?
ME: Electronics. And maybe some fiber.
HIM: Uh huh. Right, then.

We're going out for dinner, tomorrow, kid-less, which is something of an event. We'll be sure to enjoy it. And that's another thing. A kid? A cat? A HOUSE? When did this get to be a settled family? Shouldn't we have 2.5 children and a dog? Wait. WHAT?

Twenty years. Where in HELL does the time go?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spring, then, is it?

I took classes in landscaping and greenskeeping and horticulture and all that. My first, knee-jerk reaction to my house and yard is to bring in a tractor, rip out EVERYTHING (except the lilac and the hibiscus) and start over. Two problems with that: The first and biggest? Money. An overhaul like that ain't cheap. Especially with the plants I want to put in. Second? I really, physically, just can't do it.

Plus there's that bloody damned moderation thing my OT keeps going on about.

My solution: I've picked one spot to try and do this summer. I can gradually work outward from there. Maybe I'll plant a random plant or two in the front beds while I'm at it, and in five years or so, I'll have kinda-sorta overhauled the yard.

So. My mess. Here it is:
That little L shaped mess? Starting on the left hand side of the picture, at the pinus mystery species that looks like it has mange, back along the wall of the porch, and then along the back of the house.

Here's another view, standing on the stairs that you can see on the right, there, looking back toward the porch:
Even allowing that it was very late winter when I took these photos, you can tell it's a fucking mess. None of the shrubs are a bit useful, there's landscaping gravel to scrape up and drag away, and I really will dance on the carcass of that idiotic topiary that's stuck in there.

See? I fucking hate topiary. They're worthless and you have to trim the damn things. And they don't even flower.
If it was a dragon, I could probably be talked into keeping it. But this? Oh, fuck no.

I'm waiting for the ground to dry out enough, so I can rip out those two... monstrosities there. Then I'll pull up the gravel, and I'd like to put in a poison garden. Medicinal herbs, and dye plants that don't taste good and/or are toxic. Because, then, I'd like to plant food plants up next to the house, between the walk and the house:
The idea of the poison garden (other than the obvious fun of it) is to work as a barricade between the food plants and the deer trail out in the back of the yard. The picture directly above, I was standing right next to the house when I took it. Meaning I can run a soaker hose down through there with no trouble at all, in time of drought. (I am willing to water food plants, MAYBE medicinal and/or dye plants, but that's it.) It's a western/southwestern exposure, and the shed you can see at the upper right of the picture acts as a very good wind break.

I've been watching the weather, the micro climates, and sun exposure for a couple years now, and I think I might have it down. (Other side of the garage, where the wind hits? Alpine conditions. It's crazy.) This should work, if I can hold off the deer and I don't fuck up my hand.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Anyone?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

I sense a theme, here.

I staggered into OT this morning and asked my guy to do something involving tranquilizer darts and knocking me out for a week. Unfortunately, he doesn't have that as a treatment option .

Over the hand massage, we were discussing why I was smashed flat, and it came out that I sorta kinda on Friday drove for five hours almost straight. Which is bad on the face of it, then add in that I don't take any painkillers when driving for obvious reasons, and, well, by the time I got home I was a mess that still hasn't unmessed.

My OT started discussing moderation. How I can still do pretty much anything I want, but the days of four-hour knitting sessions - or five hour drives - are over. It hit me, because, see, FIFTEEN YEARS AGO I got these same talks from Colonel H, the head of OT where I had my hand put back together.

Apparently, I have learned nothing in a decade and a half.

I'd been doing pretty good - I only spin for an hour at a time, only knit for about half an hour without a break. But then I start feeling better and do something stupid, like that drive on Friday.

I think it's time to turn over a new rock, and start acting like a grownup.

I hate that.

To make myself feel better after this realization, I stopped off at Natural Stit



To make myself feel better, I stopped at Natural Stitches and bought two more Crazy Zauberballs. Woohoo! So, that's something. Not much, but, fuck, it was... moderate.

Hell, I hate adulthood.

ETA: I got the motherfucking gnat and so do not have to burn down the motherfucking house.

Monday, April 02, 2012


I am slooooowly getting back in the groove of blogging. It's really hard to get back in that head space where you think in blog posts as the world goes by. But! Here are my distractions! I finally got the loom warped.
That's silicone baking paper there on the back beam. My new excuse is, I can't bake cookies because of it. Ha.

I'm now down to the more boring but much less difficult chore of winding up the stick-shuttle-thingie:
Everyone who dropped by and left messages with information on weaving? Thank you. My shoulders are already a mess, so I won't be doing any crazy weaving marathons like I do spinning or knitting.

I'm still knitting on the third shawl:
Crazy Zauberballs are fun!

And spinning. I've got a Pagewood Farm roving, called "Peaceful":
It's all the colors I'm gradually decorating my living room with. I've got some half-assed idea of doing a wall hanging or pillow with it. Maybe some stripes in a blanket? Something.

The reason for all this relative activity is because I missed OT last week. Instead of laying on the couch wishing for morphine, I've been able to do something. In small, short bursts, anyway. For every hour of spinning, there's two hours drooling on the couch. But, it's something.


Today, the Goober composed her first poem. I am posting it here, for posterity:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I interrupt,
but Mum does too.

She also correctly used the word "appalling".

I'm gonna just sit here and gloat over the kid's vocabulary. Y'all just go on.