Pearls slipping off a string.

I had a dentist appointment today, and I decided to make a day of it and get a sub. As I confided to a friend recently, I’ve been hiding in a sad little hole. “Time to peep out,” she said.


Maybe I do have a touch of seasonal affective disorder. (No diagnosis like a self-diagnosis.) But winter has been dragging me down.

Maybe it’s not the weather or the season, but rather other things that accompany this time of year. Second term—my school system operates on trimesters, of all things—is notoriously challenging: snow days that take away from instructional time, holiday breaks that repeatedly make students (and teachers) forget what it’s like to be on a routine, flu outbreaks, and just general dreariness and weariness on top of it all.

(I don’t know how I would survive third term if it weren’t springtime.)

And most bleak winters aren’t made bleaker by a series of school shootings and rumblings of weaponizing school staff.

But now that it’s almost March, there budding trees, blooming flowers, greening pastures.

And there is Anne Shirley.

I have, more than once, shut off my phone screen to silence that infuriating world of Facebook to replace it with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea.

I listened to the original Anne of Green Gables a few years ago on Librivox. I’ve watched Anne with an “E” on Netflix. And now I own the Anneof Green Gables box set, and like little Paul Irving, I’m absorbed in a book of fairy tales.

That’s what it feels like.

I know Anne’s mind imagines the world in such a more fantastical way than the more sensible around her see, but even plain ol’ Avonlea seems like a dream to me.

Sometimes it angers me that the reason Anne, her friends, and the people of her village are all a-fluster is a building that’s been mistakenly painted blue instead of green. Don’t they know there are far more tragical things in this world over which to become distraught?!

But then again, it is nice to escape to Anne’s one-room school house where the children aren’t in fear of being gunned down and the most this schoolma’am has to do to protect her students is speak to them with both firmness and kindness.

This makes me both happy and sad. But a least there is happiness to be had there.

And here, as I sit by my own Lake of Shining Waters at the city park knitting, reading, writing this, and sipping what amounts to a free coffee from the local shop. The man on the bench across the lake just caught himself a big ol’ fish. There is a breeze. Muted sunshine. Twittering small birds. Honking geese.

Just a happy day.



I’m sort of superstitious about goals. Resolutions. Challenges.

Setting them, declaring them, participating in them almost always ends in disappointment.

I guess it’s all a choice: deciding to try something and deciding to feel like a failure when I don’t embody an arbitrary idea of success.

But still, I tweeted this.

Did I build in enough loopholes? I think I did.

During our recent snow-in, I bought this book on an emergency trip to the grocery store—obviously to buy pears—and promptly made the blingy little magnetic bookmark to go with it.

I’ve set a 52-book goal in Goodreads for 2018, one book a week. I don’t think I’ve ever read that much in my life, but so far I’m doing okay, thanks to abridged audiobooks of Sue Grafton’s alphabet detective series.

  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
  • B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton
  • Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun
  • The Wonderling by Mira Bartók

(I highly recommend Jonny’s touching graphic book and his Twitter feed.)

I started listening to C is for Corpse, but when I finished weaving Sissy’s birthday scarf, I left off and never went back.

I’m not sure I can stick it out all the way through Y, but Kinsey Milhone is a narrator I’m willing to revisit.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech is my current read. This will be at least the second—if not third—time I’ve read this one. I can never remember anything about it except that it’s good.

The yarn for Sissy’s scarf (Lion Brand’s Shawl-in-a-Ball in Namaste) is the yarn I’ve already bought this year, but I’m looking forward to getting intimate with my yarn stash.

For now, I’m working on a cowl.

The yarn was clearance at Sheepskein’s in Newburgh, Indiana—and purchased in December, for the record! It is Araucanía Aysén. The stitch is called Little Tents, something I found in Barbara Walker’s first stitch treasury.

For now, I’m quite happy with reading from my shelves and yarning from my stash.

New, again.

IMG_3370The gap between Christmas and the new year is always an interesting time. It is the lull after all the frantic holiday preparations—despite attempts at serenity—and before things return to “normal” with a whole new calendar.IMG_3299I like it…IMG_3442…mainly because school is still out, but the stress of the holidays is subsiding. But also, as I imagine most people do, I find it a time of both reflection and looking forward.IMG_3320Looking back on 2017, it is hard for me to put a finger on any one thing, any one feeling or event that defined it. I started out bitter and angry, and from that, this blog was born. Then in the spring, I found renewal and energy. I reacquainted myself with dyeing fiber and opened the Etsy shop. I introduced myself to embroidery. I worked almost maniacally churning out fiber goods, and then, the school year started.IMG_3360Being a teacher this year has been a whirlwind. During the first half of this calendar year—the second half of last school year—I became detached from the workday, which had become an existential drain on my psyche. That was a positive move. But when the new school year came around, I allowed it to require so much more of me. Yes, it was by choice. I began the year not detached, but invested. I went all in. And once you go all in with anything, backing off isn’t easy. And once you go all in with teaching, there is very little time for anything else.fullsizeoutput_183bSo the creativity and making—that which defined my springtime recovery—all but ceased.IMG_3361I did read a few books. These three very different ones come to mind: Stephen King’s IT, John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, and Lindy West’s Shrill.IMG_3279Also, I did a little making in the form of these hats and mittens to donate.

(I know the hats are mostly not identifiable as such. I barely took progress pictures, much less ones of the final product.)IMG_3252IMG_3276IMG_2554fullsizeoutput_1839IMG_3388And then, when Christmas break snuck up on me, I threw myself into handmade Christmas presents.IMG_3414Felted coasters for my sister.fullsizeoutput_181bfullsizeoutput_181cHandwarmers for several.fullsizeoutput_1823fullsizeoutput_1818Woven scarf for my littlest niece.fullsizeoutput_1825fullsizeoutput_1824fullsizeoutput_181aCrocheted hats for my dad and brother-in-law.fullsizeoutput_180eCoffee cozies for my mom.fullsizeoutput_1802fullsizeoutput_1808fullsizeoutput_180cJumbo knitted blanket for my husband.fullsizeoutput_1863.jpegThen I found a new fun thing to do: LEGOS!fullsizeoutput_1812IMG_3519fullsizeoutput_180bAnd lastly, I’m going to try keeping a bullet journal in the new year. I’ve enjoyed setting it up over the past few days.fullsizeoutput_1811fullsizeoutput_180fIMG_3525See you in the new year!

Behold, my little book of magic.

I’m lost in the black hole of organization.

Here’s the latest accomplishment: untangling the rat’s nest of circular needle cables in my life.

This 2″ Avery mini binder & some page protectors did the trick.

My super-precise interchangeable cable length system: really short, short, long, & really long.

Also, I have a veritable bevy of US size 8 fixed circulars—and a mysterious lack of size 6s. As in zero.

Anyway, I’m not a very organized person usually, but lately, everything has been simultaneously wadded up & strewn everywhere.

I feel like I’ve got to get a handle on this sitch in order to be productive. Like, my right eye is twitching.

No, literally, it’s twitching right now.

Introducing Fencerow Fibers.

Approximately twenty-four hours ago, I opened up my Etsy shop. Fencerow Fibers: hand-dyed yarn & spinning fiber inspired by the flora & fauna of Kentucky’s fencerows.

Yesterday morning and early afternoon, I hung out with Kim at the local lawn & garden fair, while she sold her handmade soaps and homegrown gourds.

It wasn’t really the market for fibery wares, but I had fun spinning and talking to interested folks about the wheel and yarn-making process.

And then I came home—with my half-body sunburn from sitting too near the tent’s edge—and stocked up the Etsy shop I’ve been dreaming about for four years.

I wrote a long-winded About page and dug up my old Flickr account, where I had stashed photographs of my homeplace’s fencerows.

Before midnight, I received my first order from my fellow fiber enthusiast and friend from way-back, Heather. (Check out her Etsy shop, Skittish Coyote Studio! She crochets some killer goods with a real eye for style.) I happily prepared this first shipment earlier tonight.

I put together a Facebook page for Fencerow Fibers, and now I’m mulling over my options with Instagram and Twitter. I’m not sure if I should create new profiles for this entrepreneurial project or if I should just change my personal handle from @raisininthespun to @fencerowfibers or what. I don’t want to spread my social media “presence” too thin, but I also don’t want to bombard my non-fiber friends with marketing-type posts. Also, I don’t want to lose the identity of this blog with the name change. I suppose there is the option of changing the name of the blog to Fencerow Fibers…

I’m just not sure what to do.

Well, except go to bed. It’s been an eventful weekend, I’m tired, and it’s late. Good night, friends!

The fast lane.

I am not a speedy doer of things—except for eating, drinking, and talking.

An abridged list of things I do more slowly than most other people who do them:

  • Write. I agonize over every single word. (Yes, even these.)
  • Read. I read, reread, and research the things I’m reading about. One page can turn into an hour-long rabbit chase.
  • Knit. I throw, not pick. My skill set doesn’t include continental- or Portuguese-style knitting, even though I’ve tried.
  • Crochet. It astounds me how much faster crochet is than knitting, but still, I don’t zoom along.
  • Spin. Even though I spin fairly lightweight yarn, I keep my wheel set on the slowest ratio. And I might as well just forget the fast flyer that I got when I thought I would get faster over time. Who was I kidding?
  • Dye. The technique that I use to dye top and yarn for gradient effects is time- and space-consuming. There are faster ways of getting color on fiber, but I am not wiling to sacrifice my envisioned design in the name of speed.

I like doing these things, but I just don’t do them quickly.

So when I bought an Addi Express knitting machine to make tubes of knitted yarn for dyeing, you would think the speed at which I could simply turn a handle and crank out row after row would be satisfyingly fast. Maybe even too fast for me, the slow poke.


My goal was to produce 100-gram yarn blanks—kind of like sock blanks, but tubular and waaay longer—and after I found myself cranking for over twenty minutes with only about fifty grams knittted, I knew my problem wasn’t solved. Yes, I was “knitting” a million times faster than I ever could by hand, but it wasn’t efficient enough, even for me. The point was to have a quick and relatively easy way to prepare the yarn for dyeing, and at that rate, it was going to take far more time to prepare the yarn for dyeing than actually dyeing it.

With less than an hour of having the Addi out of the box, I ordered a sewing machine motor off eBay after watching this video. A few days later, the motor arrived, and it was time to give the Addi Express the Binford 5000 treatment.

It took lots of finagling. I went through several rubber bands. I enlisted the help of a gigantic wood clamp. I trashed many yards of yarn while test knitting. I cursed and even walked away at one point. But eventually, I figured out how to adjust everything just right, and finally, I got what I was after.

And boy, is it fast. It still takes some time and patience, but the effort it takes to produce a dyeable yarn blank is well worth it.

On Easter Sunday, I took two machine-knitted blanks out to the garage to dye, and this is what I got.

I decided to go with a rainbow scheme. It was my first time dyeing pastel colors!

I dyed both “skeins” in the same colorway-—except for the part where I momentarily got my jars of yellow and orange dye swapped around.

Yes, there is some rainbow top hiding in there, too.

I love the way the tube of yarn looks coiled up like this.

I wound one up immediately, straight from the blank. I simply loosened the yarn on the end, looped it on the ballwinder, and frogged it into a cake.

Here they are side by side. They are the same amount of yarn in the same colorway—one wound, one not. Of course, the order of color on the wound one is reversed from the coiled one, as I frogged from the pink end. If I were planning to sell this yarn, I think the coiled presentation is much more eye-catching, don’t you?

As soon as I had this finished yarn in my hands, I started having ideas about knitting it. I tried out a few ideas before I settled on a garter striped wrap in a rhombus-like shape.

I’m designing it myself, though it is a super-simple concept.

I get giddy when a new color in the gradient starts to peek out in the knitting.

I am enjoying the process of making this. It is simple, but engaging. I like seeing the stripes add up, the slanted angles grow, and of course, the colors evolve. The blue finally started to emerge yesterday. I don’t know what it is about seeing it appear, but that color change just never gets old.

If this wrap turns out to be of practical dimensions, I might be putting the pattern on here for you—aaand maybe even a link to an Etsy shop where you can purchase the yarn to knit it.

Plot twist!