Pygorean Theorem

The best-laid plans of knitters and spinners gang aft into the bit-bucket.

Beware the idles of blog, lest backwards story the tell to have shouldst thou.

Hair today, hair tomorrow.

OK, so the theorem part isn’t exactly ready for prime time yet - but at the rate things are going the pygorean part will be pretty soon. All of the above statements, however, are deeply true, and thereby hang many tales that I will have much ado to disentangle, what with the blogging mojo having been AWOL for so long.

Sorry about that… there’s been a lot going on, not all of it bloggily interesting - and during it I fell into the momentum trap, the one where you get such a head of steam going with a project that you fall fatally just a little behind with documenting it, and then next thing you know the behind-ness snowballs into totally hopelessly huge behind-ness. (Not to mention equally massive behind-ness on responding to comments. Planning to catch up soon. Honest.) I have been pretty good about taking pictures along the way, or in some cases about preserving samples from parts of the process that I figured I’d want to tell about later - but the triage and organization of all that gets a little daunting, and by the time I have a brain cell available for it I’ll probably have finished the project; hence the likelihood of telling at least part of the story in reverse.

And speaking of pygorean theorems, remember the magnificently bad shaggy dog story that wound up stating that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides? (Hmmmm - note to self: Way to ruin a punch line, self.) Well, this much I can tell you now about the dehairing of pygora fleeces: the doe of the pygora is definitely not equal to the son of the doe of the… oh, never mind. One of these days I’ll dig up my fleece samples and pictures and give you the run-down on how I went about prepping the fiber. Suffice it to say, for now, that the kid’s fleece was pretty easy to work with and yielded a pretty high percentage of lovely glossy locks; with his mother’s fleece I had to sweat and strain for every fiber and the usable yield was dramatically lower. OTOH the fiber itself was very beautiful - soft, fine, shiny, white. White enough that I knew the only way to get a reasonably consistent color was to blend the two, which meant de-hairing ALL of both before I started spinning.

Doe Fluff

Of course, I didn’t come to that conclusion until I’d already spun some 450 yards of singles from the kid fleece alone.


And on top of that… if you’ve been keeping score you may recall that at the end of my careful sampling I had decided to BLEND the pygora and the silk anyway. So what gives?

Just this: that I wasn’t entirely accurate in evaluating yield ahead of time. Basically, once I saw how much usable fiber I was getting from the first fleece, I rashly decided I could do the whole thing in pygora alone. So I dehaired a big whack of the kid and started spinning. Then I took a closer look at the doe fleece. A really closer look. Then I actually worked with a sample of it. The difference in overhead was so drastic that for a brief while I thought I might not be able to use it at all. It’s funny how a discovery like that will tend to make you more realistic in your approach to a project.


So anyway, that’s when Plan B C D E F kicked in. De-hair and prep ALL the pygora. Spin it, blending the fiber from the two fleeces. Spin a comparable amount of silk. Ply the two together. Deal with the bouclé-ish character of the yarn… somehow.

I finished the de-hairing on Monday of last week, I think. Now there’s a process that’ll put hair on your chest.

Hair on your chest
This is the first time I have posted a picture of my chest on the Internet.

Not to mention everywhere else in creation. I swear there is not a single surface or texture anywhere in my house or indeed within a two-mile radius that is not affected by guard hair. My guard hair has guard hair. And it’s fierce militant guard hair; you wouldn’t want to tangle with it in a dark alley. My lint brush is cowering under a chair.

It’s also stealthy guard hair, at least in the case of the doe. The kid’s guard hair is softer and it’s reddish. The doe’s guard hair is white like the rest of her fleece, distinguishable only by shape and texture - not always a simple proposition given the puffy cloudlike behavior of the soft pretty stuff. Every time you think you’ve really finished with a handful, you turn it over and dang, more chameleon-like white-ninja guard hairs lurking!

Doe Fluff

Even after that, I spun the first few skeins with tweezers ever at the ready. Then the tweezers went AWOL in protest; I think they’re still hiding out somewhere among the couch cushions. So I switched over to my jeweler’s needle-nose pliers. Just as good and easier to find.

Anyway, to leave a long story long without making it absolutely interminable… I ended up with just shy of 1,500 yards of singles.

Pygora Singles

About 32 WPI, give or take, soft and creamy and just a little rustic.

Pygora Singles

I re-skeined and washed them on their own…

Pygora Singles

…then spun up several of these.

Silk Singles

Mmmmm, this was fun. Mmmmmmm, undyed tussah, om nom nom nom nom nom. The pygora was labor-intensive all the way, what with the constant vigilance against guard hairs; it didn’t take all that long to spin but it FELT like forever. The silk? Hah. Long-draw, from the fold, and before I realized it I had blasted through half a pound of it.

Oh, that reminds me. I really should come clean about my wheel, huh. I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting the Romney lately; this is what I’ve been using for Project Pygora:


That’s a 24″ saxony I’ve been rehabilitating, and I love it madly. It’s a story for another time, but this I can tell you; the more I spin on it the happier it gets. As well it might, because until a couple of months ago it was mouldering in someone’s barn. (It sure didn’t look like that when it arrived here.)

The plying is also an interesting story for another time, and it’s about half-done so far.

And yeah, I know you’re supposed to FINISH plying for a project first, but, well… so sue me, I cast on last Friday. (Actually, it’s a good thing I didn’t ply it all at once. But as I said, story for another time.)

First Frogging

That’s how much I did on Friday evening before frogging back to zero. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It wasn’t… about anything. On the face of it that may not seem to matter much, especially given that I’m intentionally going for soft fuzzy abstractish lace rather than something really representational. But still… wedding. Significant. Even if it doesn’t scream out to everyone in the room, there should be a theme and it should mean something.

Also, I wasn’t happy with the gauge.

So I took a deep plunge in the frog pond, rewound the yarn, went up a couple of needle sizes, and made a fresh start in a whole different idiom. And this time… it’s right.

Thematically - I’m revisiting the Seven Chakras, in fuzzier lacier form. It works for all sorts of obvious reasons, not least among them the fact that yoga class is where Lauren and I first met, and we still practice together.

It’s been fairly plain sailing ever since - well, until last night anyway.

It progressed through this

Three Chakras

to this

Four Chakras

and as of this morning it was here

Five Chakras

before I frogged back to the lifeline for the second time in a row. (That’s about 24″ diameter.) I’ll tell you about that tomorrow soon, but for now I think I’ll leave you with some detail close-ups.

Muladhara Chakra is here represented by a series of diamond figures clustered around the center:


Svadhisthana Chakra is an elongated and lacier version of the same Banded Crescent I used in the sock:


Manipura Chakra is a flame, of course - again similar to the one in the sock, but this time set off against a very open lacy background:


Anahata Chakra is a heart again, scaled down from the eyelet-edged one I used in Golden West, and set in a stockinette ground with an eyelet bead divider between repeats:


I don’t have a close-up yet of the Lace Lozenge variation I’m using for Vishuddha Chakra, because - well, if I’d been happy with it I wouldn’t have frogged it, would I. The pattern is fine, but I’d been playing just a little too fast and loose with the increase ratio, and the ovals didn’t have room to breathe.

By this time tomorrow, I fondly hope, that band will be redone and I’ll be making armholes… again. Which is yet another story for another time.

9 Responses to “Pygorean Theorem”

  1. Programmer at Arms Says:

    Um, I love your wheel. A lot. You’re spinning some mighty fine frog hair on it.

    I’m also really interested in the way the silk and pygora colors blend. They’re not indentical, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, but the way that shows up in the knitting is really fascinating. How is the hand on the plied yarn?

    Nice chest photo. First in a series?

  2. Dan/Brewergnome Says:

    So… you’re telling me that there is not Distributive Property of Pygorean math? Rats. Son times silk plus doe times silk does not equal son plus doe times silk.

    The shawl, however, is gorgeous.

  3. Rachel Says:

    the shawl is beyond gorgeous…. it will most definitely, most certainly become an heirloom handed down from generation to generation

  4. Linda Says:

    yeow. I was starting to wonder if you’d fallen off the deep end of a spinning wheel, or something equally dangerous. I’m glad to see that you’re tooling right along, Lovely project, too!!

  5. Astrid Bear Says:

    Wow! That’s going to be some gorgeous shawl. Lovely wheel, too :)

  6. onafixedincome Says:

    Holy wow, hon. Holy wow.

    Shawls have armholes??

  7. Rosane Says:

    Wow, Lisa. This is turning into a gorgeous project. The yarn is lovely!

  8. Terry M Says:

    Your shawl is absolutely STUNNING! Wow……
    And nice writeup about dehairing Pygora. Been there, done that. Hate it. Glad you did it, however - AND blogged about it! Hope we get to see it all finished!!

  9. Cathy-Cate Says:

    There are Many Many Stories in the Naked City.

    Or sumpin’.

    Waiting (anticipating) — the shrug looks loverly so far, and the epic continues!~

Leave a Reply