Friday, June 24, 2016

Spinning Straw into Gold


I’ve always had high expectations for myself. I assume thats's pretty normal. High expectations should come along with our divine potential. They keep us focused on growing and improving.

 Unfortunately, I’ve had to downscale my expectations a lot. I’m still testing my limits to figure out a sane balance in my life. When I push those limits, I always pay a price.

This has been a payment week. Last week I went camping, but was very careful not to push myself. I sleep on a bed in my parents’ trailer, napped at least once a day, knit the pieces to last week’s angels, and read most of Walden. It was a beautiful, restful time, far away from dishes, laundry, and eternal remodeling.

But I got back on Thursday at noon and planned to put a blog out on Friday. That meant finishing up the angels. What I imagined as a quick job, turned into a full eight hour work day. I sat and sewed. I didn’t realize I was hurting myself until it was too dark to take  pictures and the angels still needed hair. I have been creeping ever since with increased pain and the anger and depression that goes along with hurting myself.

Thus the story of Rumpelstiltskin.
A quick re-read reminded me that the poor miller’s daughter was operating under the too high expectations of her king and her father, not herself, but she still had to pay the price.

The magical Rumplestiltskin offered to spin straw into gold and save the maiden’s life. First, she chose the payments--things she could part with, like a necklace and a ring. But in the end, he demanded her baby, something worth more than her life.

In my case, I eliminate the option of a magical happy ending. (My doctor says we’ve gone through about 20 “miracle drugs” so far.) For most actions, I choose the payment—grocery shopping or swimming cost me some extra time napping. Knitting and spinning make my arms and shoulders tired. Church will send me to bed until evening. 

If I chose to do more, I no longer set the price. This time, it has been most of a week pretty much down. That leaves me two weeks behind in dishes, laundry, and knitting projects. I don’t know when the price will be paid so I can speed back up to my usual slow walk.

Perhaps as a reminder, I have purchased a mascot from I plan to call her Patience because that is what I need most.

Buying a knit bear seems silly for a knitter, but I am supporting a blogger who struggles to do what I want to do. He supports himself solely through his knitting and his writing. 

Thanks to my husband, I don’t have to do that.  But I hope that someday I will be able to pull my own weight again financially. For me it is pride, not survival. Patience will be essential to keep my pride and aspirations from hurting me again and again.


When I buy fiber ready to spin, it’s a simple operation to sit down and produce pretty yarn. But going with the theme of overly high expectations, I prefer to start with “raw” wool right off the sheep. 

I have two bags of nice Icelandic wool in my porch. I have only begun to put a dent into this wonderful supply. 
The dog is begging to go outside with me.
He won this time.
First I need to sort it. Some of the wool, mostly from the legs and belly of the sheep is just too dirty to work with. (This particular fleece has a lot of vegetable matter tangled in it, but is remarkably clean. Some fleeces that I have worked with were so coated with clay/mud that I had no idea what color the sheep was until after I washed it.)

I wash the wool by letting it soak in very hot water with dish soap. I run the wash twice, then rinse.

Once the wool is clean, I gently squeeze out as much water as possible and set it outside to dry in the sun. 

Carding the wool lines up the fibers to make them easier to spin. It also pulls out knots, short fibers ,and more of the vegetable matter. I run clean fiber through my drum carder twice. By the time I have sorted, washed, and carded the wool, only about half of the wool I started with is usable. In pioneer times, I would use this waste wool to stuff furniture or insulate my walls.

Carded wool from a distance looks soft and clean, but I will still be picking straw out of the wool while I’m spinning and from the yarn while I’m knitting.

My plan was to wash wool to show the lovely sink water and to spin to show the finished product, but I am already feeling the carding. I don't want to spend another week down with blog-related injuries. Time to post pictures and call it a blog.


I have used the down-time this week to work on one of my knitting weaknesses: socks. I have knit amazingly few socks because I don’t value socks very much. I buy them cheap; wear them out; throw them away. Most of the time I don’t even wear them. But so many people swear by hand-knit socks and value them as gifts. 

So I bought a class and a kit from The teacher, Lucy Neatby,
This is Lucy Neatby. I'm a pretty conservative crafter.
demonstrates each step slowly and thoroughly, adding in many useful knitting tips along the way. It is definitely worth the price. 

I’m one of those annoying students who work ahead. I make a lot of mistakes because I jump into step three before completely understanding step two. 

But in spite of myself, I have accomplished a pair of socks I would be willing to wear—if it wasn’t 90+ degrees outside. I think they will look very cute over the tops of my ankle-high boots. But until I am tempted to keep them for myself, they will be on sale in my shop. (At least they will be posted by tomorrow, 6/25.)


  1. Hang in there! I think about you very often and send healing, restive thoughts to you!