It's hard to know how to start a blog entry after being MIA for over 4 months. Um... hi?
Life has loosened up its strangle hold in the last couple of weeks to the point where I felt able to blog, but then the thought of how to write up the last 4 months overwhelmed me. So, I'm not going to try to cram it all into one post. And, unfortunately, knowing my track record, I may never get around to getting it all out. Strike that. Some of it is too personal, to me and others, to be fit for the blog. So I definitely won't get it all out here. But I'm going to at least start with some of the bigger parts and with the good stuff.
The last four months have contained some of the most difficult, but also rewarding, times of my life (so far). There's been a lot of work, between my actual job and working on the book. I've worked harder on this book than I've ever worked on anything in my entire life. My projects were all due in on June 30th and I am very proud to say that I did meet my deadline, and I'm very proud of what I made. The 28th and 29th were two of the most intense, miserable days of my life as I worked until my eyes crossed and worried myself sick over whether or not I was "good enough" to do this, but I did it. I am so happy and relieved that that part of the process is over. What a weight off my shoulders! I can't wait to see what you think of the projects once the book is FINALLY out (slated for June 2009). Oh, and I have a book title, now! It's going to be Spin, Dye, Stitch and I'm happy with the title. I also have a cover, but I can't share that just yet. I promise to show it off as soon as I can!
I don't know that I've ever completely spelled out the details of what exactly it is I'm doing, so here it is: Spin, Dye, Stitch is going to outline the basics of spinning on a spindle or wheel, how to dye fiber before spinning or yarn after spinning, and will include 10 projects that are forgiving of beginner's lumps and bumps, to different extents. Some projects are perfectly suited to that first wild and crazy lumpy bumpy stuff and others are for a little later in the spinning journey. There's also one more feature to the book, but I'm saving that announcement. I think it's pretty exciting and I'll be talking about it here before the end of the month, so make sure to come back and visit!
Okay, enough plugging my book.
The biggest announcement I have is that Mark and I got engaged last month. We'll be celebrating our 12 year anniversary next month (yes, really. We started dating when I was 16), so this is quite a surprise to many people, and with good reason. I've never made it a secret that I wasn't planning on getting married, to Mark or anyone else. I've always planned on being partners with Mark and spending our lives together, but marriage was not something that was in my plans. It was always something Mark hoped for, but he was always happy to be with me, even if it meant not being married.
Unfortunately, during the past 4 months, there was a major crisis in my family. Through it all, Mark was there for me in ways I never imagined another person could be. He is and always has been an amazing partner, but that fact was really brought home during that difficult time. It was a huge paradigm shift for me, but a few different factors, including what we went through, made me want to "make it official." I want to stand up with him and formally make the commitment that this is for life, that he is my family, my partner. It's hard to explain how things have changed without totally explaining how they were in the first place, and that's too personal for the internet. Since he knew (or thought he knew) how I felt about marriage, he was not going to be asking me, so I took matters into my own hands and asked him. And yes, I did get down on one knee (not one person has found out that I asked without needing to know this). Since I was the one who asked, and we're not being very traditional about any of this, I wasn't thinking of a ring, but Mark insisted, so we went out together and picked out a very sweet little ring. We're making plans to elope to Jamaica in January. I'm thrilled and excited. I can't wait to be married to this man.
And speaking of Mark, in the last 4 months he stared and finished his first semester of culinary school and scored straight A's! I'm so proud of him. He is so committed to this. He's deep into the second semester and well on his way to keeping up that 4.0 GPA. Next semester he FINALLY gets to start the actual cooking classes--his first semester will be on yeast breads, quick breads and waffles. I'm going to make him pratice a lot for his final exam ;-)
Finally, I'll wrap it up with some fiber content (this is supposed to be a fibery blog, after all). Working on the book has not kept me from pursuing some extracurricular activities. As promised, I've been carding up a storm on the drum carder I got for my birthday, and I'm loving every minute of it. I bought myself a sampler of half-ounce pieces of different colors of merino and I've been having fun playing with different color combinations. I've had about enough play and I'm ready to start carding with "the good stuff" but I'll have to do a lot of dyeing first to establish a good palette that I can just pull from, instead of having to dye first every time I want to card. Here's what I've come up with recently:
Not all of these show their true colors (ha! a pun!). For instance the bottom left is the most beautiful (unphotographable) shade of blue/aqua/turquoise and contains streaks of lots of "hot" colors--oranges, reds, pinks--but those are buried in between the layers and you only see the tiniest hints here. I'm so excited to spin these! Each is a half-ounce or a little more, just enough for a delicate lace scarf, or, if plied with something else, a small triangle shawl, a la Swallowtail.
I also started up a new shawl with some handspun that's been marinating in the stash awhile. I had planned to make a stole with this using the ostrich plume stitch pattern, but stoles aren't my best look, so I converted the plan into a top-down triangle shawl using the same stitch pattern. I'm very happy with how it's turning out so far. Plus it's been a relaxing knit that I really needed to get me through the book projects. The top was dyed by the Silk Worker and she did a gorgeous job. It's so easy to make her stuff look good!
These pictures were taken with half of the shawl on blocking wires, so you're only seeing half of what is done here. It's about 32" across the shoulders right now and 16" down the spine. I have a LONG way to go before this is done. It's 433 stitches per row right now, and it will probably be around 750-800 stitches per row by the time I finish. I love this pattern, though: it's easy to memorize and knit and give such beautiful results. I'd say I hope to have it done in time for the wedding, but I think even this lightweight shawl will be too much in Jamaica. I'll just have to make sure I have something else special to wear it to. Maybe my first book signing?