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November 2006 - Posts

I loved reading your comments when I got home, it was a gift and I thank you.

The weekend was not what I expected, and then it was. There was no reminiscing, as we, as a growing family, have not figured out how to have group adult conversation time when the kids are around (especially during meals). But there was lots of family time, good food, and good memories. I was glad to be there for my mom and to just. be.

The family

The memorial ceremony took me a bit by surprise. I missed the end so I'm not sure if anything was said, but the main part was the offering of incense during morning prayer. After my mom, dad and the rest of the family offered incense, other people offered incense, and before they returned to their seats, bowed to mom to pay their respects. It moved me, and I didn't expect it. It was fitting, and right, and brought a kind of closure I didn't expect. I left the weekend knowing my grandmother was gone. Not forgotten, and definitely missed. But gone.

There were lots of good eats, and I think my belly grew another inch or two:

All grown up
taken by my niece; our heads aren't chopped off!

The photo is shocking, it can't possibly be real. Can I really be that big??

We were walking off an amazing Chinese lunch that I hope we repeat. The little goober is taking up valuable stomach real estate in my belly, but I ate as if I were only 6 weeks pregnant.

Walking - 1

Walking - 2

Walking - 3

Skipping rocks
my dad teaching my niece to skip rocks

oh, to be little again!

My nephew is adorable, we hit it off right away. Last time I saw him he was just starting to walk. He's a little monkey, a real Curious George; and he's so innocent and good natured that it's impossible to be mad at him. But boy, he has non-stop-on-the-go energy. Non. Stop.

Emerging from under the table  Hi!

My niece and nephew  After a granola bar

uncharacteristically still

At the airport on the way to DC, I spent an hour spindling. I have been a slacker Twisted Knitter, and haven't known what to dye, spin or knit. I found my project:

Chasing Rainbows Cashmere/silk

I love the colors, rich browns, earthy (photo is a little muted, see link below). It's the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks cashmere/silk I bought at MDSW that I've been waiting to use. I've been trying to get the wheel up to (laceweight) speed and haven't wanted to waste the cashmere/silk until I had it running reasonably smoothly. But now that I've started it on my new Forrester spindle (and my, does she spin),

Forrester lightweight spindle

it seems the right way to go. I only have 2 oz so I'm spinning quite fine. I'm hoping to make a lacy scarf.

I also tried to work on the pink panther socks (remember those?), just to get them DONE and off my list; but I decided the broken striping after the heel just wasn't working for me. I'm usually a "let it be" knitter, and don't worry about such things. But in this case, it seemed strange to interrupt the striping:

Pink Panther socks, in progress

I also brought a few lace pattern books with me so my mom could pick out a pattern for her lace shawl. She wants something in black to cover up her shoulders when she dresses up. After I got over the "knitting with itty bitty black yarn" bit, I bought a cone of ebony Zephyr. My mom picked out a simple rectangular shawl from Folk Shawls and now I have no excuse not to get started! Once The Project is done (dang those buttons), I've promised to give Scott some knitty love. Then, swatching!

Phew, phew and Phew. It's good to be home, I missed my honey.

Do you ever have that feeling, after a prolonged blog break, that feeling of not knowing what you have to say that's so important that you need to write it down and share it with the world? I do. Not that any of this is so important. But lately I've been feeling like, what do I have to say? What do I have to talk about? And it seems easier not to post when I can't answer that question.

I've been knitting and spinning. More knitting than spinning, though I'd prefer to be doing the reverse. On the knitting front, there's The Project, which is almost done. I made it through the long, unpleasant, yet necessary, seaming and end-weaving stage, but I'm at the dreaded find-pick-and-sew-on-buttons stage. I've had projects sit for years at this very stage.

On the spinning front, there's nothing resembling a project. Mostly I'm just trying things here and there, figuring out what I feel like spinning, and working on getting the Schacht to spin laceweight comfortably. Getting closer. I'm not sure if I'm just not in the mood to spin, feeling overwhelmed by my choices or by self-imposed and unrealistic expectations, or feeling intimidated by spinning another project to "match" the Falling Leaves shawl. Maybe I'm just not feeling inspired. Yeah, that's the ticket.

On the life front... mostly I've been dealing with the sadness of my grandmother's death, and trying to make sense of my feelings. They're complicated by pregnancy-induced hormones. Makes it harder to tease out why I'm sad.

It's a strange thing. My grandmother is gone. Somehow I can't believe it. I've lost 3 other grandparents, the first when I was 12. This is not new to me. She was old, she no longer remembered family, and I probably didn't see her more often than twice a decade. She's been slowly failing these last 4-5 years, and her passing has been inevitable, just a matter of time. Yet, despite expectations, she has seemed to live on, and on. 94 is a lot of years. I can't begin to imagine. She was a tough lady, and I'm certain, tough to live with. Yet I am completely attached to her. Who can understand these things? We didn't have long conversations. We barely shared a language. We were generations and a culture apart, yet somehow, connected.

Is it real? Is it imagined? Does it matter which?

Meanwhile, in America, we spent Thansgiving Day with Gram. The assisted living place allows family to join the residents for holiday meals, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother's day. I was apprehensive, not sure what to expect. But it was a good time.

It was reassuring to see other family members visiting their relations; we don't see many visitors when we see Gram. It was inspiring to see how some of them interacted with their relatives: with humor, relaxed. We've been struggling with how to "do this right", how to cheer up Gram while our hearts break, how to sound cheerful, what to talk about, how to let her know she's not forgotten, that we love her. It's gotten easier over time. She's settling into her new place and overall is very comfortable there. She's got people looking out for her, both staff and residents. And she still knows who we are, and remembers there's a baby on the way.

When I first started visiting Gram 5 years ago, she welcomed me, no questions asked. Accepted me, into her home and her heart. In a way, she was the grandmother I couldn't have. One who lived nearby and spoke English, one I could get to know as a person, not just as a grandparent-figure. And, in a way, the little I can do for Gram now, the weekly and now bi-weekly visits, are all the more important because I could not do the same for my own grandmother.

I remember my shock, in the early days, of being able to ask Gram questions and have a conversation. I could never do that with any of my grandparents! Even if I could ask (and I did ask when I was older), I couldn't understand the answers.

This weekend I head to DC for the memorial service for my grandmother. I'll spend time with my family, and hopefully, reminisce about and remember Obaachan. I want to share memories and laugh, smile. Remember how Obaachan never wanted her photo taken and suddenly disappeared when a camera was out? Remember how red her cheeks got when she drank beer? Remember how much she loved amaguri? Remember how she used to wake up at 5 am every morning to water her plants and start the laundry?

Anyway, I guess I did have something to say. Not to the world, but to my blog friends. These things rattle around inside my head, and I struggle to find a balance on the blog, between public and private, fiber-related and Life-related. As do we all. Thanks for listening.

Me n Gram, Thanksgiving 2006
Me n Gram, Thanksgiving 2006

At The Gathering I started spinning the Crosspatch Creations batt I bought at Rhinebeck. Such joy! I tore strips off the batt, attenuated just a bit to get the fibers moving, and then went at it.

From the outside, the batts look light colored, with hints of mint and fuschia:

Crosspatch Creations batt

But opened up there is quite a bit of dark grey lurking underneath:

Crosspatch Creations batt

The nubby bits add wonderful texture and overall spin quite nicely into the yarn:

Crosspatch Creations batt

The yarn: dark grey with pops of color; tweedy, flecky, happy:

Crosspatch Creations

spun mostly thin with little fight to the natural bumps. There's no point in striving for pure consistency with this fiber. Instead, revel in the texture and color. Know that you're not spinning for a "perfect" yarn and enjoy the spinning, the feel, the nubs, the surprises.

Crosspatch Creations

I spun the second bobbin once I got home, but I've been faithful to The Project since then. I spun with the intention of making a 2-ply so that's probably what I'll do. And, it looks so good with itself, too.

The project is going swimmingly well. I was able to get past the last hurdles thanks to your suggestions and advice. The stitches and pattern are a bit fiddly, not my usual speed, but the results are lovely:

the project, in progress
as of mid-last week

Look at that texture!

And progress as of a couple of days ago (thank goodness for sunshine!):

the project, in progress

I've got a head start on some of the finishing work and I'm hopeful for a quick finish. I've been putting off spinning to get this done and I'm ready to get back! Quick question, though: do you think a simple mattress stitch would suffice or should I start pulling out the finishing books and do it right?

Look for More Progress soon!


Before heading to The Gathering, I cleared off a few of my bobbins:

clearing off the bobbins
cormo 2-ply; laceweight merino 2-ply; CVM 3-ply

At top is some dyed cormo from MDSW (0.4 oz, 66 yards). I was lured in by the color but the neppiness and VM really made this No Fun to spin, so I plied what I was able to get through. After sitting on the bobbin so long it definitely needs a warm bath to re-energize and balance it. It's fairly soft and skooshy, but I'd be hard pressed to spin more.

The blues were last seen as dyed top (100's merino; 1 oz, 200 yards). I spun it very fine, but unfortunately, I felted the fiber in dyeing it, so it was slow goings. Still, what I did spin is very soft. Also, I've had a good bit of trouble getting my Schacht to spin laceweight nicely. I just haven't got it set up quite right. It's my Next Project; I've been holding back on the laceweight for too long.

And my favorite is the 3-ply CVM (1.25 oz, 102 yards). Why? Well, it's my first 3-ply! I know, it only took me just over a YEAR after learning to spin to do a proper 3-ply. I did my first navajo-plied yarn within 3 or 4 days of learning to spin (on a spindle, no less). Why did I wait? Honestly, it seemed like a lot of work, and seemed harder to do. It wasn't.

My first reaction when I was done (or as I was spinning): "It looks like real yarn!"

I was elated, dancing up and down inside. It's silly, of course. I have been making real yarn all this time, after all. But it looks like "regular yarn". It was a real wow moment for me.

The second reason I love it: I made it from the fleece. I separated the fleece by color, washed it, ran it through the carder (first drum carded thing!), and spun it. How cool is that?

my first 3-ply handspun

Thanks again for your kind words and condolences. The DC memorial ceremony was moved to Thanksgiving weekend, so this last week has been down time for me to just be, especially the weekend. I had Friday off and, despite the recent and sudden (pregnancy induced?) appearance of a strangely normal internal clock, I managed to sleep in until at least 11 am. Ahhhhh.

The weekend at The Gathering was mixed. I know I would have enjoyed it more under different circumstances: sometimes I really enjoyed the company of other spinners; other moments I just had to get away and cry.

Since I signed up a couple of months late, I didn't get most of my first choices. My backups were all spinning classes, since that's what I was most interested in learning. I shoulda known myself better. My first and third classes were Beginning Spinning and Hand Spindling, respectively. Now, before you start snickering, I'll admit... I guess I'm no longer a beginner spinner. And, I guess 4 months of spindling before I got my first wheel taught me a lot about spindling. Go ahead, you can laugh now.

In Beginning Spinning, I learned to Andean ply, which came in handy through the weekend. I spent most of the class practicing what I thought might be long draw with clouds of yak I had brought. In Hand Spindling, I took the opportunity to try out the myriad spindles she had on hand. (I really gotta get me a Golding spindle. Niiiiiiice.) And in both classes, I helped someone learn to spin. Which is always cool.

The second class was all I had hoped it would be. Building Your Spinning Repertoire with Bobbie Irwin. We covered a few short draws, point of contact, spinning from the fold, long draw, faux chenille novelty draft and tailspinning from locks. Turns out I had done many of these before without knowing specifically what it was called. And, turns out long draw is not what I thought it was. It was great to learn the specifics, see it in action, and learn tips for each. 

We used wools, including a really nice Finn top that made me love Finn and not hate inchworm true worsted short draw. We also used ramie, silk waste, cotton (for long draw), yak (with guard hairs), and a few others. What fun!

Friday and Saturday evening were Spin-Ins in the same room as the handful of vendors. I wasn't planning to buy anything, but then, well, you know how it happens. I'll just say it's Judy's fault. And Cindy's. I may as well have been following them around. I bought cashmere/silk from Foxfire, a pound of Montadale roving from Christopher Hall, and a light weight Forrester spindle that spins and spins.

The Spin-Ins were easily my favorite part of the weekend. Being in a room full of spinners and knitters, spinning and hanging out, was really lovely. I sat with Judy and got to meet a few of her RI spinning buddies: I sat next to Cindy and Muriel (see Cindy's photo); Marva was in two of my classes; and I picked Beth's brain about the Schacht Matchless. What a nice bunch.

I had zero signal on my cell phone and without it and Internet, I felt out of touch and far away. By Sunday I was ready to come home and get some hugs from Scott. And what a sweetie, he did some more cleaning while I was away. Clearly, spinning and fiber weekends are GOOD for me, aren't they?

It's been raining and grey since the weekend, dark when I leave work, and getting cold for green picnic table photo ops. I'm still trying to figure out what I'll do. Mebbe just go back to nighttime flash photos?

In the meantime, PumpkinMama reminded me I owe another bump pic. Here's what I looked like today:


And this one was to prove I still have a waistline:

But it didn't work...

Thanks so much for your condolences, it means a lot to me.

Next weekend my family will get together in DC for a Buddhist service, and then my mom will fly to Japan to spend time with her family.

This weekend is the NHA's The Gathering. I decided to go and enjoy the time off and the company of spinners and fiber artists. Spinning and creating seem a good match to my mood; my grandmother was a talented craftswoman, so it also seems fitting.

I'll return Sunday and reply to messages. Thanks again.

My grandmother passed away.

I heard the news yesterday from my mom. She debated calling me at work to let me know. I'm glad she didn't wait, I wanted to know.

My grandmother, Obaachan, was 94 years old, living in what they call a Group Home, in the countryside of Japan. Some of my family went to see her back in April, but the last time I saw her was in 2002, four and a half years ago, for her 90th birthday:

At my grandmother's 90th birthday, 2002

I wanted to visit for our honeymoon, but when Scott and I found out we were both going to be laid off, we put off the wedding. Then, as Gram got worse (Scott's grandmother), we feared she wouldn't be able to attend, and realized there is no good time. We threw together a wedding in 6 weeks with family and a few friends. Going to Japan at the time was just too much for us, so we chose Canada for our honeymoon, and decided we'd go to Japan once our finances were stable, once we had jobs, once we had time to plan a trip. Too late.

I've been expecting this call for years.

I began mourning in February when Obaachan no longer recognized family. Those thoughts still fit. Only now I know I know her better than I realized. I'm glad I put it into words; that's my grandmother. To me. I'll pass those memories and stories on to my child, so Obaachan is not forgotten.

Obaachan, I'm sorry I couldn't see you one more time. I know you understand and I know it's okay. Thank you for all the good memories and for taking care of me. I'll miss you.