Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Thank You Letter to Wil Wheaton

I don't remember when it began, but at some point, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns at 5pm on Fox became a tradition in our household.  My mom, sister and I would usually watch in the sewing room before getting supper together. It got to the point where we could tell you which episode it was before the screen changed from black, but that didn't stop us from continuing to watch the episode.  It was our thing and we enjoyed it.

The thing that I didn't understand (and no one beyond my family had a clue about) was that I had dysthymic disorder, commonly referred to as chronic depression.  This was before there was much talk about this sort of thing, so I really didn't understand why I usually felt like shit.  I could fake happy around friends, but while I wasn't a rebellious teen, it also wasn't particularly easy for my parents to get along with me.  I had a good life: friends, parents who loved me and each other and a great sister. I played soccer, I loved to read and did well in school.  There was no real reason for me to feel so bad, why didn't I feel thankful for what I had?  My mom is wonderful, but didn't understand why I couldn't just be happy.  And if not, why didn't I talk to someone about it.  But why would I talk to someone, what the fuck was talking going to do?  How was talking about how shitty I felt going to help me feel better?  Well, she'd say, maybe it would help if you knew you weren't the only person who felt like this. Well shit, now I feel terrible for the people who feel like me.*

Back to ST:TNG.  Not only did I like the show, but I had a serious crush on Wesley Crusher (played by non other than Wil Wheaton, but you probably figured that out from the title).  Now, after school, I would usually come home and take a nap.  My mom would come wake me up by 5 to watch ST:TNG if I wasn't up by then.  But, when I was feeling especially crappy, I just want to stay in bed.  At that point, the only thing getting me up was if Wesley Crusher was in the episode.

Now if you follow Wil Wheaton on Twitter (you should) or you read his blog (you should) you know he's been cleaning out his garage and going through stuff he's kept through the years.  He's made some funny comments about his insecurities as a teen and he's written a post about depression.  And this is where I say thank you.  Your teenage self may have been insecure and kind of a tool, but I thought you were awesome enough to get out of bed to watch on TV (which was a bigger deal than it sounds like). 

I was finally diagnosed with depression in 2001 and have been on medication since then.  There are still days that are harder than others, but knitting, spinning, reading and exercise help.  Watching my daughters grow up also helps.  My family and friends help.  And knowing I'm not alone, well, it does kind of help.

I am not as eloquent or funny as I would wish, but I just wanted to write this down.

Now, I will leave you with pictures of the birthday girls Margaret (11/15) and Alice (11/23), eating cupcakes (made to Margaret's exacting specifications by my MIL) for Alice's birthday.   I can't believe they are 5 and 2 already!

Alice ate the frosting, but left the actual cake almost untouched.  The only part Margaret didn't eat were the crumbs that dropped to the floor.

There will be actual knitting (and spinning) content soon.  Really.  Because, dude, I went to Rhinebeck this year and it was AWESOME!

*My mom feels guilty that she didn't do more at the time, but really, how would she have known what to do?  I wouldn't have talked to anyone.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I am not your biggest fan

Dear Joss Whedon, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Seth Green, and every other celebrity I follow on Twitter*;

I am not your biggest fan. 


Don't get me wrong, there are certain celebrities (like the ones I follow on Twitter) who seem like cool people and of whose work I am a big fan, however, I just don't get the whole fan thing, exactly.  I've been reading a lot of ComicCon tweets this week and while it seems like it could be fun, I don't think it is for me.  I would love to go to some of the panels, but to stand in line forever just to get someone to sign something?  I just don't really get it.  (Confession: in college I went to some ... convention thing and did actually meet and get a picture with David Boreanaz, it was fine, the line wasn't too long.  I don't think I have the picture anymore)(I've also been to a couple readings/signings of the Yarn Harlot's.  They were funny and the part where she spoke was great, and now I have books signed to me, but, those are just things.)

Do these people need me to stand in line to tell them I like their work?  No.  They hear that all the time.  I don't feel like I need to get things signed, I don't need more "stuff".  And while they seem like interesting, funny people, it's not like we are going to have some amazing bonding moment in one minute and become best friends and start hanging out.  New friends are cool, but I like the friends I have and don't feel like I need to "upgrade" even if that were likely.

If there were downloads of the panels at conventions, I would be willing to pay a small fee to download and watch certain of them.  If Wil Wheaton came to Aurora, IL to do a reading of some of his work, I'd love to go (if I could get a babysitter).  I saw The Avengers and will get the DVD or Bluray so I can watch it with Joss Whedon's commentary.  But I'm not sitting in line forever to do any of this, either.  I like showers and bed more than a flash of a meeting with someone who might be the nicest most interesting person in the world but who won't really be able to show that in one minute.

If my fan card must be revoked, that's ok, I'll just sit and spin.

No, really, I've got lots of Romney and Corriedale roving to spin.  Also some silk, some Blue Faced Leicester, Wensleydale, and more.

*Joss Whedon is not actually on Twitter

Monday, May 7, 2012

Is there confusion?

Last night I woke up and my stomach was churning with acid and I was having a mild panic reaction to the thought that I might have given the wrong impression about Beth Smith from The Spinning Loft in my last post.  Did I?  I don't know, I'm kind of afraid to go back and read it now.  The only reason I didn't write this post last night at 3am is that Alice was sleeping in the Pack 'N Play in our room because we had company and their child was in her crib; I didn't want to wake up Alice (which leaving would have done) and I didn't want to possibly wake up our company.  So, during naptime, it is.

Anyway, the gist of it is this... she is an awesome and inspiring teacher.  She is kind and helpful and wonderful.  If there was anyone in the class that she didn't like, she did not show it at all and was gracious.  There was one person who wanted help with things that were not covered in the class description and while she shut them down, she was not at all rude about it and I don't think the person left thinking they had been rebuked (which they really hadn't, except in the imaginary conversation that happened in my brain). 

So, was there confusion before?  Is there now?  Well, I hope not.  If there wasn't before, well, the acid in my stomach at 2am was telling me a different story, and I don't want to wake up tonight and think there might have been someone who read this (hahahaha!) that decided not to take a class with Beth because of something I said.  There is another teacher (who I shall not name) who I wouldn't take another class with, but Stringtopia teachers were GREAT!

Knitting and spinning news will have to wait... the girls are napping which means it is time for MY nap.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stringtopia 2012

This last weekend, I went to Stringtopia 2012 in Lebanon, Ohio.  It was so much fun and so inspiring, I actually felt like I needed to blog.  I know it's been a while (hello, August last year), but what can I say, after the girls are in bed, I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Or doing some knitting, or a bit of reading.  Well, add more spinning to that mix, because, as I said, I had an inspiring weekend.

The samples from Breeds Study and Spinning for Lace
Stringtopia started last year, and while I had heard about it and wanted to attend, I didn't think going with a 5 month old would be doable.  Well, after taking a class with Abby Franquemont last summer (see previous post), I knew I didn't want to miss it this year.  I would have missed it, however, without the assistance of my most awesome mother.  She flew out here from California and we drove down to Lebanon with the girls.  While I filled my days with wonderful fiber classes (more about them below), she spent time with Margaret and Alice.  We all ate our meals together and I helped get them ready for bed at night (before leaving again for socializing), but for the most part, Friday through Sunday, the girls hung out with my mom.  The best part?  She's willing to do it again next year!

So, what did I take?  What classes inspired and instructed?  Breeds Study with Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft was a fabulous class.  Learned about how sheep and wools are classified, but most importantly (to me), we covered how to process the wool ourselves.  Excellent instructions for washing, and flicking, carding, and combing locks.  I have a set of cards, but now I want a flicker and a set or two of combs ... oh, and fleece, I want the fleece to process.  The number and quality of samples we got to spin was phenomenal, and she provided a way to organize it, too.  Other than the obvious knowledge Beth possesses, my favorite part about her as a teacher was how she handled a student who wanted individual instruction that was not part of the scope of the class.  She was polite, but directly and quickly told them to (and I DON'T quote), 'F-off, that is not what this class is about, this is about sampling the fleeces of different sheep breeds.'  Seriously, it was a thing of beauty.

Saturday was again with Beth, but this time, Spinning for Lace, which is really about spinning fine yarns.  Again, we had crazy samples (qiviut!!!) and again I came away feeling more confident in myself.  Both classes helped me think about my spinning so I can better make the yarns that I want to, instead of just ending up with whatever comes out.

Sunday I took Doing More with Your Drop Spindle with Abby, which was great.  I've incorporated some techniques already, however, I have found the best way to do more is, wait for it... use your drop spindle.  I know, shocking, right?  If you actually use it, you get yarn made.  It's crazy.

And then, Sunday afternoon I had Spinning Silk with Sara Lamb during which I cried.  No, she was great, they were tears of exhaustion, joy and "ah-ha!".  One thing she said (really, it was kind of a theme with all of the instructors throughout the weekend) was that you don't have to be perfect.  Now, I will  not claim to be perfect (certainly no one who has seen my house would claim I'm a perfect housekeeper), but I know I have some perfectionist tendencies (which I have tried to squelch).  That being said, however, I don't tend to pursue activities at which I am not immediately compentent.  When I started spinning, I could make yarn, and I enjoyed it, so I continued.  I didn't spin as much as I might have, though, because while I could make yarn, it wasn't the fine yarn I wanted to make.  And logically, I know that to get better, I have to practice, but this weekend really hit that home for me, and also made me more accepting of the yarn I get while working towards the yarn I want.

Jacob wool spun on Turkish drop spindle and Greensleeves spindle

While down there, I sold my darling Louet S-10 Maggie to Shelly.  She had spun on it and really liked it, and after spinning on Abby's Louet Julie last summer, I bought one of my own.  I didn't really need both wheels and while I have an emotional attachment to Maggie as my first wheel (and a good one she was), Shelly will provide her with an excellent home and get a lot of use out of her.  Beth brought a shop down with her and boy, it was hard to rein myself in.  I came home with some lovely dyed Jacob and a braid each of dyed Shetland, Wensleydale, and Tussah silk.  I might have also purchased a small Turkish spindle (with which I am in love) and a Greensleeves spindle that was too beautiful to pass up.  To thank my mom for helping out, I got her a cool small handheld loom (didn't get pictures of it before she went home), beater and yarn needle.  It is something easy and quiet she can do while watching soccer games with my dad.  And I got a Cricket loom for Margaret (also, kind of, maybe, me).

Margaret enjoying weaving
There is more to Stringtopia than just the classes, you get to meet some really wonderful people, too.  I've known Nancy Folsom online for a while now, but getting to meet her in person and hang out with her was really fun.  She is just as funny and snarky in real life.  And Sandi Wiseheart is just as great as you would hope.  Rebecca and Lara and Janet are all warm and funny and wonderful people, too.  I know there are people I'm not mentioning, but seriously, it was so much fun and I really am looking forward to heading back next year.

The girls have changed and a lot has stayed the same since my last post.  My parents have visited once, my mom has been out two other times; Margaret turned 4 and Alice turned 1, both in November.  So we're here, just playing and running around and knitting and spinning and really, this time, I hope not to let so much time pass before blogging again, but, sometimes what really needs to happen is a nap.
Alice napping in the car on the way home from Ohio (photo by Margaret)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Knitting again

Back in February I took a class at the wonderful Knitche on how to knit continental to improve the speed of my knitting, because although I'm a good knitter, I am not at all fast.  It was a good class and I decided to only knit with the yarn in my left hand after that, to practice and improve and pick up speed.  Well, as it turns out, all it did was kill my desire to knit.  Sure, for a while I dutifully knit with the yarn in my left hand, and while it wasn't slower than how I knit before, my knitting didn't have the same even tension.  I knew the tension issues would resolve with practice, but instead, what happened is that slowly, I just stopped picking up my knitting.  Instead, I spun and crocheted; I like doing those things, so it wasn't a hardship, but I have a lot of knitting projects on the needles and I missed the easy (if slow) relationship I had with knitting.  So, yesterday, I decided, the heck with knitting faster eventually, I want to knit, period.  So, I'm back to my slow but steady throwing technique, and I knit more yesterday than I have for months.
Point Reyes, North Beach

We went out to California at the beginning of June to visit my parents.  Dave couldn't come due to too much work crap scheduled, but Margaret and Alice and I had a great time.  They were even good on the plane.

Reading with Grandpa Brian
As you can see, we went to the beach.  Had to rent a minivan to get us all there, two car seats and three adults do not fit into a Subaru Impreza Outback!  But it was worth it, Margaret loved seeing the ocean again, and Alice got her first taste (literally) of sand.  The first time we took Margaret to the ocean, she was crawling, and so when we set her on the sand, she tried to crawl, and because of, well, sand, her hands slipped out from under her and she face-planted.  I suppose it's lucky that Alice wasn't yet crawling, because she sat there fascinated and then started trying to eat the sand.  Didn't seem to hate it, thought it was interesting.
Rainbow across from my parents'

Swimming at Connie's
 My mom has some really wonderful friends, and one of them had us over to swim in her pool.  We had another offer from another friend, but it was our last day and Margaret was so tired she didn't even want to blow bubbles.  Alice and Margaret both loved the pool!  Margaret has been taking swimming lessons, and you could tell that she was much more comfortable with the water than last year.  She even swam the length of the pool and back by herself with a couple noodles.
 While we had the minivan, we also went to Fairytale Town.  It is such a cute place and Margaret had a blast.
 When we were at Point Reyes, Margaret kept asking to pet the cows we saw, so when she got a chance to pet this yearling, she was thrilled!  She also spent a good amount of time petting a sheep.
 One of the wonderful things about Fairytale Town is that everything is kid-powered.  There are no rides, just things for kids to climb on and play on and slide down.  To enjoy it, you have to be active.  Also, adults aren't allowed in without children, unless they are attending a birthday party and are on the guest list, so you don't just have random people there... it's just for the kids.
@ de Young Sculpture Garden

 One of the days, Margaret went to the Sacramento Zoo with my dad while my mom and I took Alice and went with one of my mom's friends into San Francisco.  There we went to the de Young Museum to see their exhibit "Balenciaga and Spain" and to the Legion of Honor to see "Pulp Fashion".  Nothing I say can really do justice to either exhibit.  Amazing. 

I also really enjoyed seeing some friends and their kids.  I just wish I could have spent more time with them, too!  Andrea and Jodi, bring the families out here!

We were in CA for 2.5 weeks, which was not enough time with friends and family, but a little too long to be out of our normal routine.  Margaret was a little hesitant to return to school, especially since during the summer she has a new teacher in a new room.  She got over her tears quickly, though and has been thoroughly enjoying herself.

Polwarth wool, color Hoarfrost.
Jen and Alice
The Friday after we returned, I went up to the Lake County Fairgrounds with Jen and Alice (Margaret spent Thursday night and Friday with her Grandma Kathy) to attend a class at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair.  We took Photographing Your Fiber with the always wonderful Franklin Habit.  I had a fangirl squee moment when we walked into the class and he knew that we had met before.  The class was great; some of it was needed review, and some of it was new to me, but it was all fun and I got the nerve to play around with the settings on my camera.  The picture above is one I took at the end of class.  Although I would switch the lighting around a bit, the color is pretty true.  It is a mostly worsted spun combed top that I enjoyed spinning.

As I was standing in line waiting to get into the fair to class, I saw Carol Sulcoski of Go Knit in Your Hat and Black Bunny Fibers walking into the building.  When I happened to see her after class, I took the opportunity to say hi (even though I felt like an uberdork) and she was so friendly.  My darling friend Nan was there, and since I hadn't seen her in far too long, that was wonderful.  I also met up with a friend I only knew online, Diane, and had a blast hanging out with her.  Diane and I introduced ourselves to Abby Franquemont.  Now, I have wanted to take a spinning class with her for quite some time, but with Margaret and then Alice around, I thought it wasn't the best idea.  Well, she basically double-dog dared me to take a class with her that weekend, so when I got home, I signed up for her Blended Fibers class that Sunday morning.  Boy am I glad I did, I learned so much, including that I needed a new wheel.  My Louet S-10 is wonderful, but it is not great for spinning fine yarns.

 I will conclude with a few more California pictures.  I haven't even hit July, that will be coming soon.
Blowing bubbles with Grandpa Brian, Grandma Lynn and Alice in the background.
At the Tempo Park playground
At the "chicken park" in Fair Oaks.
Checking out the horses at Orangevale Park
First ice cream cone.  Strawberry.

One of the first few days when it was cold and rainy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Long Day

I started this by giving a detailed description of the past two days.  Then I thought to myself, "Self, they don't need the gory details."  I deleted it and you may thank me later (I like yarn and fiber to spin, I will wait by my mailbox).  The upshot is that Margaret is sick and I feel really bad for her.  She's been vomiting and we spent the morning in the ER and Zofran helps, but she had to take another dose before bed and I was really hoping the dose in the hospital would have gotten her over the hump and she would have been better by now.

In other news, I painted her nails for the first time on Wednesday.  I got quick drying polish because if it took long to dry it wasn't going to stay on
Check out my awesome nails.
While she was feeling a little better today, we got our hair cut.  I take her to the same woman who cuts my hair because she got a crappy cut at one of the kid places, and I really like the woman who cuts my hair and she does a great job with Margaret, too.  I'll have to take a picture of her when she's feeling better.

I made the doll, AND the dress.  Crazy.
Margaret with Petronella.
 So, there is the doll in her dress.  Rather proud.  First time I believe I've sewn something on a machine that wasn't just a straight seam.  When I showed my mom on Skype she thought it was nice, but thought my mother-in-law made it.  She was much more appreciative of the awesomeness when she was informed that I made it (because it would have been no great shakes for either grandma to make because they both sew very well).
Pay no attention to the large drop of drool on my chin.
In other news, The Countess is getting bigger and stronger every day.  She was also really good while we were in the ER.  Started getting her to sleep in her own crib and room last Friday and so far it's going pretty well.

Figured out how to stop these entries from posting as notes in Facebook (really not at all intuitive).  Next time I'll show you progress on my Polwarth fiber.

Monday, March 28, 2011


If you are reading this on Facebook, it might seem strange that I was talking about Alice as if I hadn't mentioned her before or posted pictures.  However, I am actually writing this at oldbeanknits.blogspot.com, my blog, which I've been crap at updating recently.  Somehow, a while ago, I linked things so these posts show up as FB notes, and I have no idea how to change it.  So, there you have it.  I'll have a real post again soon.