A Priest Crafts – Episode 3: TDF is coming!

I wanted to do a short vlog while I am down south on fast internet, and it’s turning out quite short! Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

In this video I talk about Tour de Fleece – that’s when yarn spinners around the world rally around the awesome cyclists pushing themselves to the limit in France, by pushing our spinning skills to new heights.

I’ve always wanted to participate, but I haven’t managed to get it together enough to plan my project. This year I have the additional stumbling block of traveling for the first third of the Tour, but in the video I talk about how I’ve structured my Tour spin around overcoming this obstacle!

The Tour is July 1-23, and we follow the rest days and challenge days as well. I’ll be migrating the first rest day from July 10th to July 7th, since I’ll spend that entire day in airplanes, and I’m not going to test my luck by putting an antique wheel in my carry-on.


My current spin is 50/50 BFL/Tussah silk from Woolgatherings, in the colorway “Modern Love.” Purchased less than a month ago at Cloverhill. I’m spinning it for a Navajo-ply worsted-ish weight, in the ridiculous hope that it will be enough for a circular shawl-vest for my 4 year old.


My TDF spin is the same fiber – 50/50 BFL/Tussah silk from Woolgatherings, purchased something like seven years ago at Cloverhill (under different management). I’ll be spinning it for a traditional 3-ply staggered gradient, worsted-ish weight.

As usual, I will imagine putting it into a fair isle sweater. As usual, it’ll be much better in a shawl.


My wheel is an antique castle wheel of unknown provenance, lovingly called “Doris,” and anyone with guesses as to her make, please let me know your thoughts!

I will be on Team Wool n’ Spinning. See you on Ravelry!

 

Wool n’ Spinning Color & Breed Study: Split Complement on Gotland

I spun the Gotland the day after I posted that last post about the BFL, but I didn’t finish it before we moved onto our next leg of vacation, so here it is nearly three weeks later. I was inspired by Rachel’s live stream video last night (I won some stitch markers! Woo!), so I thought I’d finish it up while my thoughts of spinning it are refreshed in my mind. Forgive the casual style; I’m dictating this to my phone while taking a walk through a sunny neighborhood! I might forget a few pieces of punctuation.

Same prep, same dye, same dyer. The only difference between this batt and the last is fiber, and both are longwools. But in these same hands on the same wheel, Gotland is a very different spin.

BFL is a longwool in that is a relatively long staple, but it’s on the fine side, and very smooth. Or maybe I’m just used to spinning it. Katrina’s prep was light and airy and spun like butter. The Gotland was an entirely different experience.

I had never heard of Gotland before this year, but now I’m seeing it everywhere. It’s got this shiny mohair quality, is very hairy, and only comes in grey. Its most recent claim to fame is that it was used to make the elven cloaks for the Lord of the Rings movies. If a wool can convincingly pretend to be from Rivendell, it’s got a place in my heart.

It’s decidedly a longwool, in terms of strength (meaning the thickness of actual fibers, since it’s not PC to say “coarse”), and length of fibers. I don’t have a lot of experience to compare it with other longwools; I’ve only spun Dorset and Wensleydale out of the longwool type. But it seemed different. Quite different.

It’s remarkably soft, considering its strength. But what made it different for me to spin was that it was somehow sticky and slippery at the same time. It was a challenge! Part of that was my own fault, because I was limited by the wheel I chose to work with. The CPW only has a 16:1 ratio, so I was drafting two or three times per treadle, and that was pretty challenging. It got better once I started pre-drafting carefully. It definitely didn’t want much twist, so I kept it minimal

I wonder if somehow the Gotland just has more open scales? That would account for the softness and the stickiness. I’m so glad it was a carded prep, since that opened it up a bit; I imagine a compressed commercial top would have me fighting with it even more.

There was another weird thing that kept happening to me. I was trying to match the same singles sample as the BFL, because I wanted to spin basically the same yarn in the two fibers. But I kept spinning thicker than I thought I was. As in, I would think that I was spinning too fine, then I would compare it to my sample card and find I was spinning at the same thickness as the thickest part of my sample. That ended up being fine, because the BFL bloomed in the wash and the Gotland did not. Meaning even though the Gotland singles were thicker, the finished yarn is the same WPI. (Additionally, that meant it was denser, so less yardage.) But it seemed bizarre while I was spinning the singles.

BFL sample card with Gotland singles

I kept the singles twist as low as I possibly could, because I wanted to have more ply twist, and it would take very little singles twist to make it ropey. In the end after finishing I had a ply twist of about 33°, which was still less then the BFL had, but was close enough that I think they will work together swimmingly in a project.

Colour wise, I ended up doing the same thing that I did with the BFL: that is, I tried to line the colours up not quite exactly. This time I just stuck with the colour order of the batt, purple green yellow. In the final yarn, The colours actually lined up more than I thought they would, so I won’t see you that much colour play in barber poling. Oh well. I would have made myself nuts trying to control that any more.

The other big color lesson? Grey Mutes Everything. It literally desaturates the colors. That meant that the two analogous colours – yellow-green and yellow-orange – were much harder to distinguish, and they all blend together more easily to the eye. In a split complement, that meant that the split part (the two analogous colors) acted more like a single contrast to the more distant complementary purple. Thought for the future: if assembling a split complement on greys, balance the colors more as if I were balancing two hues, not three, because that’s how they’ll act from a distance.

Singles TPI of 5 with a ply TPI of 4 makes for a quite overtwisted yarn! It washed out to slightly overtwisted. Should be fine in the knitting.

The Nerd Numbers:

  • Source: carded gradient batt from CraftyJAKs Boutique
  • Prep: opened into two sheets, then stripped somewhat randomly; split into equal amouts for two bobbins, with a little extra purple on one for intentional slight misalignment of colours. Additional predrafting before spinning.
  • Spun Z, plied S
  • Singles ratio: 16:1
  • Drafting method: short forward, 3″ draft
  • 2-3 drafts per treadle
  • Singles TPI: ~5, just enough to hold it together
  • Plying method: traditional 2 ply
  • Ply ratio: 16:1
  • 3 treadles in 12″
  • Final TPI: 4
  • WPI: 11
  • Twist angle: 33 degrees or so
  • Yards: 150
  • Grist: 668 ypp
  • Ravelry page for this spin

Hairy and shiny at the same time! A fiber of contradictions.

It’s pretty cool seeing the two skeins together. They are about as similar as I think I could have gotten them under the circumstances. But just from the length of the skeins you can see how much the BFL bloomed and contracted in the wash, while the Gotland just relaxed. 

We’ll see how they knit up together. I want to stripe them in a round yoke; I swapped around colors in the BFL so I could stripe them and have different colors together. I still need to get a main color for the rest of that project, though; I’m looking for that natural grey DK Gotland that Blacker Yarns makes, but it’s looking hard to find. It’s either that or buy some Gotland top to spin myself, which I’m not sure about.

That was a very fun spin, and extremely fast after all my anticipation! It’s loads of fun seeing how everyone else’s yarn is turning out. Participating in a global spinning project is something very special. Thanks for reading!

Wool n’ Spinning Color & Breed Study: Split Complement on BFL

The real reason for tuning up the CPW, as described in the last post, is that I have a very specific spin I want to use it for. For the first time, I’m participating in a “study” spin-along: a thingie in which a bunch of spinners around the world have the exact same fiber, and we’re spinning it however each of us like, learning from our own and each others’ experiences. This is happening through Wool N’ Spinning, my friend Rachel’s blog-vlog-ravelry-slack-patreon community. If you’d like to check it out, a good place to start would be the Wool N’ Spinning ravelry group, where you can look at the “color and breed study” thread.

For this study, Rachel is leading us in a study of Gotland wool, dyed in split complement colors, prepared as a batt. Katrina over at CraftyJAKs Boutique dyed up some Gotland base in a split complement of purple, yellow-green, and yellow-orange.

This is my Gotland batt. The Gotland base is a perfectly gorgeous grey, which has a huge impact on how it takes the dye. The purple dye was rich and dark, but the green and yellow seemed much lighter, so they didn’t compete very much with the influence of the grey. I was really curious what the same dyes would look like without all the grey influence, so I asked if we could add another breed to the study, one that came in a lighter base. Katrina and Rachel were pleased with the idea, so here are the exact same dyes on a cream BFL.

Cool, huh? Katrina has a fantastic color sense and a reflective inspiration; all her colorways are very soothing and thoughtful.

I spent a very long time hemming and hawing and pondering and deliciously deciding what to do with these two batts while I waited for them to come in the mail. They arrived just a week before we went on vacation, and I didn’t want to rush through them, so… I brought them with me. It seemed rather silly to bring fiber down when I was being ruthlessly stingy with my packing for the sole purpose of bringing as much fiber back north with me… but I didn’t want to wait until July, and let the study go by without me. So down it came. CPW is fixed up and had a practice spin, and I was ready to sample.

I sampled off the BFL, because even though the two batts are the same weight, the Gotland was obviously a lot denser, and that would mean less yarn of the same thickness.

This BFL is a dream prep. It’s so incredibly light and fluffy and easy to spin. The funny thing about it was, when I just went with the flow, I kept wanting to spin it too fine. Above is my first sample, a good 14 WPI fingering. I want more of a worsted weight, at thinnest a DK, so I tried again.

Now is the time to tell you My Plan.

I want to put these two batts together, so that the comparison of color and fiber can be carried all the way through to finished object. The idea that pegged itself in my mind is garter stitch stripes, particularly in the yoke of the Puffin sweater. I would have to cardiganize it, switch it to top-down, and adapt it to worsted weight, but I’m not going to bother my head about such details at this stage.

What that inspiration does give me is some direction about what kind of yarn to shoot for. I wanted two-ply because of how I would handle the colors, but I wanted no-thinner-than-DK so I could leave the door open to spinning a sweater quantity to coordinate with this stuff. Fingering weight would close that door! The sweater inspiration is also why I overplied it a bit. I’m spinning all these singles pretty low-twist, and plying them high twist, so they can be light but strong. This should make a yarn that is as round and sturdy as two-ply can be, but not so overtwisted that it’s unpleasant to work with. I like my sweaters hard-wearing.

With decisions settled about yarn structure, I turned to color. I wanted two gradients to put together with garter stitch stripes. The problem is, when you put the two batts together as-is,  the value contrast takes over the eye. The Gotland just looks dull, and the BFL looks overly bright.

I started matching different colors from the different batts, and came up with color pairings I was happy with. I best liked how the BFL yellow and the Gotland purple set each other off, and the Gotland green with BFL purple were also pleasing. (I apologize for these poorly-lit phone photos; they don’t give an accurate sense of the color pairings.) The BFL green and Gotland yellow I was less pleased with, but the light yellow dye went so subtly onto the Gotland that I don’t know if there’s anything I could do to keep it from just looking grey.

I stripped the batts down, rearranged them, then split them in half lengthwise to spin into a traditional 2-ply gradient. I didn’t want to the colors to line up perfectly – or, really, I knew they wouldn’t line up perfectly, and was happy to embrace that fact, since it would result in a wider variety of color combinations to study. So in each of these pairs of trays, I put an extra yellow strip in one, and an extra purple strip in the other. I’d be CPB-plying the leftover bits anyway, so precision was not important.

I started with the BFL. With all this prep out of the way, the spinning went by in the blink of an eye. I struggled to keep it as thick as my sample card, and was glad to have it handy. It wasn’t my most even spinning, but I wasn’t fussed.

It’s pretty striking to see one finished single next to the tray of yarn that is identical to the one it was spun from. This is why my 8 lbs of fiber stash takes up far more room than my 16 lbs of yarn stash!

If you notice in the batt, the gradient includes sections of overlap between colors. I had rearranged this batt so the yellow and purple were next to each other, which were at the ends, so they were not carded together at any point. I preserved the sense of gradation with a little bit of combo drafting at the color change. It looks quite marled in the singles, but that was unavoidable with a value change like that. I put the green-to-yellow at the end of the yellow section; I don’t know if I’ll end up using it in the knitting.

Plied with plenty of twist, I got just the finished yarn I was hoping for. Quite twisted, with just a titch of energy still in it after a bath, very round for a two-ply. Not too ropey, since the singles were soft, and the carded prep helped with that as well. Healthy sections of barber poling overlap at each color change, but not so long that they overwhelm the solid-color sections.

The Nerd Numbers:
Prep: Smooth batt, stripped, not predrafted
Drafting method: short forward draft with smoothing, 2 drafts per treadle
Spun at 16:1 on CPW, 2 x 1″ drafts per treadle, so ~8 TPI in singles
Plied at 16:1 on CPW, 4 treadles per 12″ length
TPI: 5.5 average
WPI: 11 average (yellow sections were thinner, purple sections were thicker)
Ply twist angle: ~45 degrees
Weight: ~96 grams
Grist: 821 YPP

So far, so good! Now on to the Gotland. I’ve started, and I can tell you already it’s a very different spinning experience!

Hello Old Friend

Hi friends. I am on vacation! Huzzah and hooray! We’ve been gone over two weeks now and are having a lovely time. Being in Maryland in May is like heaven. There are lots of things I miss about the North while we’re away, but it’s a treat for a little bit to just be with my family and do all the things we used to do together, initiating my kids into the ways of long grass and skinned knees. I’ve been spamming my Instagram and Facebook with vacay pics, if you like to see lots of green things.

I’ve also been crafting.

I wanted to sell my Canadian production wheel, because I was sad that she had sat unloved in a basement for two years. But the more I looked into it, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to sell her for enough to even buy an upgrade for my Traditional, let alone another more practical wheel. I took her out, and on the advice of an Instagram friend, washed her up and oiled her down.

After the usual amount of arguing about the right amount of oil and the right drive band, working out her tension system and the installation of a little shim to even out her wobble (thanks Dad!), she was ready to spin. I pulled out a fun-but-not-precious item from the basement stash to get her used to moving again.

This is some alpaca roving – yes, roving! – that my mom bough me when we were both first getting really into gradients. That Christmas she bought me this roving, a gradient already spun into singles waiting to be plied (she knows I love plying), and a gradient yarn. The other two stages of gradient are already now finished objects, but this roving languished in the basement stash, having joined the club when spinning was already on the way out for me.

It’s 100% alpaca, or so says the bag, with some very substantial handfuls of sparkle thrown in there.  It’s from Painted Spring Farm Alpacas, which a belated Google tells me is in York County, PA.

An aside about sparkle: If you’re going to put in sparkle, put in a lot of sparkle. I love it when a sparkly fiber prep is just loaded down with sparkle, and when it’s well mixed in. A little bit of sparkle just feels like a mistake, and concentrated clumps of sparkle are fine for art yarn, but a pain for most yarns I make. This roving hit my sparkle sweet spot: loads of it, and very well blended.

See how jumbled up the fibers are, rather than being all straight and smooth? This is definitely real roving.

As we got used to each other again, my CPW started spinning very nicely. She hoovers oil like my sister does ice cream, and her hooks are so deeply grooved that anything fuzzy likes to catch on them, and I’m still working out how to use the tilt-tension system with any amount of precision. But she still loves to make yarn. All her grooves – the wear (not warp!) on the treadle, the grooves on the near edge of the flyer, the grooves in the metal nails that serve as guide hooks – they always make me wonder, how many miles of yarn has this wheel made? How many people have been clothed from her lonely bobbin? She’s probably made more yarn than I will make in my lifetime.

The roving was fun to spin; it was a new kind of challenge. I spun it long draw, or at least as long draw as I could. It was compacted, obviously, from its years of basement confinement, and needed a bit of pre-drafting; even then, it liked to stick. There was a lot of support from my left hand as my right hand pulled back. But I didn’t do any smoothing. This is as close as I’ve come, I think, to a true woolen yarn. Look at all that fuzz!

It was funny to be spinning something that was in one way very processed and in another very earthy. It was obviously carefully dyed, and had all this sparkle well blended into it, but right beside the sparkle was a lot of VM. Additionally, the finished singles were soft, but they also had a strange squidgy feeling to them – as if there was a lot of lingering dirt.

I built my second bobbin load very precisely. You can tell I’ve been on Instagram too much.

I spun the 4 oz on two bobbins just to avoid overloading, and wound them with my mom’s ball winder. When I use a ball winder with my singles, I am in the habit of turning the handle in the same direction as the yarn’s twist. I’m not sure, but I hope this means that the slight bit of twist applied by the ball winder adds to the twist in the singles, rather than taking away twist. And when I use a ball winder to wind singles, I use it to wind all the singles. I figure, be consistent?

Navajo plying was awkward, but not terrible; I’m finding it’s harder on this wheel to get high tension spinning Z twist, so in future I’ll save S twist for plying and spin my singles Z. I got it done, though, and made a yarn I’m proud of. As you can see, I didn’t hold back on the twist. I have a thing these days for sturdy, overplied yarns, going into my imaginary sweater stash. (The sweaters are imaginary, not the stash.)

Since it’s all alpaca, with a hint of sparkle, it won’t have any memory. I learned the hard way with my first alpaca handspun, lo these eight years ago, that I shouldn’t attempt to do ribbing or hats or mitts with 100% alpaca, or anything that would suffer from sag. One day it’ll be a shawl, either by itself or with a contrast yarn, or it’ll be a pop in a sweater yoke. (It sat next to some dark eggplant purple the other day, which surprised me by setting it off beautifully.)

My old friend the CPW passed the test. My parents don’t want me to sell her; they want me to keep her as a vacation wheel. Who am I to argue with people who have that much room in their house?

A Priest Crafts: Episode 2 – Striped Top Study

Hello friends! Episode 2 of my new blog is ready for your viewing pleasure. This month I play with a new-to-me preparation. I did something a little different with this video: make a plan and show you the process from idea to singles to finished yarn.

Links:

Nebula Medallion Vest:

Rachel Smith’s tutorials on:

If I find anything more about the top, where it came from or what it’s called, I’ll add it here.

Ravelry page for this spinning project

I ended up with ten mini skeins, all of the same wpi, but using different drafting techniques to get the singles, and plying them together differently to get subtle variations in how the colors mixed. The next step will be take the yarn all the way to finished product, where I can get really down in the weeds with what the colors are doing with each variable. (It’ll be in a blog post, in case you want to skim!)

I’d like to commit to six months with these videos. Probably posted early in the month. I’m not sure where this medium is going for me, so I’ll play around with some different styles. After September I’ll evaluate.

Please leave your thoughts and corrections and ideas; they are deeply appreciated! Thanks for watching.

A Priest Crafts: Episode 1 – Intros and Corespinning

So after all my wailing and gnashing of teeth last week, I’ve decided to go ahead and do it. I used some of my birthday money to register Wondershare Filmora, and recorded my first video on my birthday. After I finished re-recording the last bit, I was immediately bulldozed by a headcold that has left me trapped on the couch. I hope this isn’t a sign. Anyway, this couch time gave me time to edit, but means that I am now missing the Palm Sunday service.

I hope you like the title I came up with at 6 am today. It’s nicely tongue-in-cheek, as “priestcraft” is generally a negative term according to google. Our beloved Mother Martha always used it to just describe what priests do. For me it captures an important reality that I am a priest first, a maker second. I make in the context of my priestly calling, not the other way around.

So, check it out! It was super fun to make, though also quite humbling. I apologize that the audio is kind of quiet. I think I know what went wrong, and hopefully I can fix it next month.

Here’s some links to what I talked about:

frostyarn’s etsy shop (Please note her shop is locked because she is prepping for a show in June, but if you don’t mind a little PG-13 rated language, follow her on Instagram. Her work is the bomb.)

Esther Rodger’s corespinning videos (1 of 5) And here is Esther’s website. I actually just remembered that I got to meet Esther once when we were both selling in the Cloverhill booth at Maryland Sheep & Wool, back in 2009 or something. She was wearing a giant circular sleeveless sweater just like the one I’m making, made entirely of artyarn, so I guess I was subconsciously copying her!

Here’s the ravelry page for this spin. You will find all the Nerd Numbers there, including grist for each skein.

Candy Clouds #1 and #2. 

What I didn’t mention in the video because of all my excitement were the aspects that didn’t work. I was happy for this yarn to be thick and thin, which is a good thing, because I’m not very practiced at drafting merino, so there was no way it was going to be even. The downside of this is that my wheel is not really built to handle this kind of artyarn spinning. The yarn liked to get stuck in the oriface at every thick point, and the bumps sometimes got stretched out in the squeeze through, or they caught on the guide hooks. If I try corespinning again on this wheel, I’ll do it with a fiber I feel more comfortable drafting evenly, and/or with a less fluffy, out of control core. I’m already pondering the possibility of someday investing in a portable wheel with large oriface and bobbins for easier artyarn spinning. I could suffer through these difficulties for one spin, but I would hate doing this all the time. Ya need the right tools for the job.

Stay tuned for the last stages of knitting the sweater; I have high hopes of wearing it for Easter morning and being able to write about it. Now I’m off to make some tea, read the Bible, and kick this cold, because I need to be on my feet by Tuesday for the last night of my Big Work Thing. God’s provided for every stage of the Thing so far, so I’m not even worried about it.

Have an amazing Holy Week, and may you see all your dreams surrendered to die with Christ rise again with him someday.

Penitence and the Green Dragon

The first two weeks after Ash Wednesday didn’t really feel like Lent.

I tried to be penitential, but my efforts to induce reflective suffering were repeatedly thwarted. The things we gave up – too much phone, TV for the kids – were a relief to be rid of. Putting them down didn’t feel much like a burden, and that space was filled with joy. I even tried to be more penitential with our food, switching breakfast and lunch to something more boring, and sticking to simple, vegetarian, bean-based meals for dinner. But that intentionality accidentally reactivated my cooking mojo, so we were just eating tasty, fun, filling simple dinners.

All that changed a couple of weeks ago, in the buildup to the Big Work Thing’s Biggest Thing. That’s a sort of retreat called the Alpha weekend, part of the Alpha course.

Bobbins filled last weekend.

A big part of being a priest, functionally, is event planning. If I had known that, I probably would have eschewed ministry life entirely, because me and event planning don’t go together well. I felt inspired and called to lead this Alpha, and that’s been widely encouraged, confirmed, affirmed, and supported, but I knew it would be hard for me. I have a ton of prayer support, and awesome leaders and teams to work with, but sometimes it is hard. Especially in the last week and a half. It came out in my Lenten disciplines – rather, at my total failure to keep them.

Two skeins, 6.3 oz. total, and a baby .6 oz. skein of leftover Polwarth.

One of the hardest things about it, although it was also the best, was that God kept sticking his hand into it. Every single week of Alpha, something major has looked like it was not going to work out. But, at the last minute, it kept working out. Either someone would step in and surprise me, or someone I thought would surely say no would say yes, or someone would decide to be more generous than I had any right to expect. I sent a lot of long emails to my prayer team (and am still sending them, because we have a few weeks left).

God keeps coming through, and in ways that make it clear he is invested in this project. What this is teaching me is that I need to honor him and give him the glory for it. That’s what I asked him to do, after all: make it happen if he wants to use it to glorify himself. Why am I surprised that that’s what he did? I think that’s the main reason he keeps waiting for the last-minute save – I don’t think it’s coincidence, and I don’t think he’s doing it just to mess with my head. I think he’s doing it because it says, in a way we can’t ignore, yo, I’m here! This is my kingdom you’re working on, and I’m gonna build it!

Color mixing. This is going to make amazing tiny subtle stripes.

A key moment for me actually came in association with this yarn I’m showing you. I’ve been using spinning as a way to get my mind off the pressures, to relax and even pray when my brain won’t shut down. I’ve been passionate enough about the spinning that it’s been an effective escape. This yarn in particular was a joy to sample and test and decide exactly what to shoot for. I really enjoyed spinning the singles, as the sampling had helped me refine not only my target yarn, but how to relax into the process of making it.

1 skein is consistently 11 WPI; the other is consistently 12 WPI. Total yardage is 356 yd. in 6.3 oz. Avg. grist between them is 907 YPP.

I was really looking forward to plying this yarn. I love plying; it’s that moment when everything comes together for the first time. It’s the final yarn being born, really, and it’s not a terribly long labor.

When the time came to ply, though, there were only a few days left before the Alpha Weekend. Things were getting sorted, but it took until the day before it started for me to even have confidence that all the pieces would be in place at all. Then there’s always the question of how it will go, and if anyone will show up. I was determined to be present, not to run away from the anxiety, but that meant that spinning was not an effective escape. I enjoyed the plying, but it didn’t delight me. I was distracted. The creation of yarn, though a gift of beauty from a creator God and a good thing, was not going to rescue me. The power of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of my friends carried me through, not my coping mechanisms. This might surprise you, but that actually lets me feel much more free to enjoy my coping mechanisms, because it was finally proven to my subconscious that yarn can’t really compete with the power of real relationships. That’s a bit of obviousness I’ve been struggling to internalize, so I’m glad it happened.

The weekend itself went very well. I won’t go into details, but a great number of prayers were answered, and the guidance myself and others had been receiving from God were confirmed. When the event actually started, I was able to be present and calm.

And best of all, the way God had been making his investment in the project felt – by his annoyingly last-minute semi-miraculous contributions – meant that I was completely confident that he would do exactly what he wanted to do in it. The success of an event like this isn’t in the number of people who show up, but in what the Holy Spirit does inside each person, and that can’t be measured, certainly not by me.

I like dragons. I know they’re usually bad guys, both in the Bible and in Tolkein, but I can’t help it. I used to have a little necklace with a dragon on it, and a necklace with a “dragon tear” glass pendant, and I especially liked to wear it during Lent. They gave me two reminders. First, that the great dragon will, along with all evil in the end, put into submission to the God who is good (see Revelation 12, esp. verse 8). Second, that God is in the business of releasing us from our dragonish-ness, like Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and that’s pretty much what Lent is for.

Closeup on the polwarth leftovers. Gorgeous, warm, and much more even than the combo ply, but I’m happy with my choices.

I called the samples “dragon eggs” just for their color, and for how cute the mini-skeins looked curled up into fat little twists. I’m calling the final yarn “Green Dragon,” for that color, for all the Lenten dragon-y reasons above, and for the location of the same name in the Shire, a place of much ordinary enjoyment and frivolity.

It can’t be very comfortable being wool that’s in the process of being made into yarn. It’s shorn off its sheepy home, then scalded, brushed, pulled through small holes, and finally stretched out and twisted under tight tension – usually more than once. But then, a warm soapy bath, and ah! The release! And something new and beautiful is born. That is Lent, and this yarn, and this week.

Thank you for reading. And thank you God.