Tiny Pretty Granny Squares

The craft energy continues after some natural dyeing

I miss craft conferences. I miss the energy. I miss feeling socially awkward at mealtimes. I miss teaching and facilitating sessions. I miss the kind of full physical and mental exhaustion that only comes after three days of not sleeping enough, socializing entirely too much, and teaching with everything I’ve got.

I do not miss airports or airplanes. I do not miss security lines and taking off my shoes in public for no good reason or strangers inspecting my underwire*. I do not miss trying to relieve myself in a too-small space while trying not to touch bare parts of my body to the walls, railings, countertops.

I’ve taught online for many, many years. Mostly, I have taught asynchronously: I have recorded my lessons and students have been able to watch/follow them whenever they want. This is how Craftsy works. This is how I’ve done most of my self-hosted online classes.

In that way, the cancellation of in-person events and workshops in Covid times hasn’t really phase me. But though I’ve done the vast majority of my teaching online for the last seven years, I would also occasionally teach at events. Really great ones. From retreats in rural Washington held in legit overnight-camp facilities to hotel-hosted ones by the beach in Southern California, my favourite events were always the ones that were the biggest pain in the ass to get to. Planes and trains and vans involved, all in the same trip. Or a lengthy drive, a border crossing and a ferry all in one go.

After nearly two years since my last retreat or conference, I’m missing how much fuel I’d get from an experience like that, even when, paradoxically, I’d return home entirely spent.

Last week I hosted a natural dyeing demonstration from my kitchen. It was for Studio Hours at Digits & Threads, which we host each month and during which we focus on a topic to explore together, socially, with show-and-tell, occasionally an expert guest, and usually lots of laughs.

This time around, I was the “expert” – not in natural dyeing, but in trying things out loud and seeing how they go and encouraging others to try things, too. That’s my expertise, and this session was fun.

It reminded me how much I love teaching live, and it was bittersweet. Because “live from my kitchen” is not the same as “all packed into a room.” It was an okay consolation, though.

And at the end, I had a bunch of yarn I’d dyed with goldenrod and hibiscus (which may be quite fugitive; we’ll see!)

Which I decided, perhaps predictably, I’d make into granny squares. Maybe for a small blanket. Tiny two-round granny squares that aren’t actually tiny because the yarn is a heavy worsted weight and I’m using a 6mm hook.

I’m thinking of course that I’ll have to make up a tutorial for these wee squares, because I’ve got the teaching bug back.

I’m getting quite a lot of bugs back, actually. A bug to work more on climate action. A bug to socialize more. A bug to make more things.

Maybe it’s a stretch of gorgeous weather, or maybe it’s having had my first shot. The situation here in Canada isn’t the best right now, but for the first time in a long time I’m feeling optimistic that things really will get better sooner than later.


* Underwires, what a thing of the past, amiright? Even as I anticipate wearing real clothes again soon instead of seesawing between pajamas and daytime pajamas, I don’t anticipate ever going back to wearing an underwire. I highly recommend anything from here.

We’ve got April discussion threads going:

One about books, and one about crafts.

Come hang out and chat!

Items of Note

What I’m making: The Pi Shawl is on a shelf, the toque from my handspun is waiting for a moment when I can concentrate on making even crown decreases, but tiny granny squares are flying off my fingers, made with the yarn I dyed in my kitchen last week.

What I’m watching: Just started Shadow and Bone. I read the trilogy years ago and loved it, and remember almost none of the story. Also, catching up on several weeks of Grey’s Anatomy.

What I’m reading: Still Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville, very slowly. The kid eventually tired of Winnie the Pooh, and we moved on to The Magic Misfits, by Neil Patric Harris (yes, that NPH). Really, this is a series he’d love on his own, and I suspect he’ll continue it without me. Realizing that he’s old enough and sophisticated enough that the books we read together should probably be the kind he’d be unlikely to read on his own but that we’d enjoy together. Starting to chew on maybe some great classics (note: “great” does not include Treasure Island, which we started but both hated almost from the start). We’ve read some great classics together already—The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Swallows and Amazons, Winnie the Pooh, Stuart Little. What do you suggest? And are there more contemporary (or at least not quite so old) books we should add to our list?

What are you enjoying (or hating) reading these days? Head over to the book discussion thread!